Wednesday, April 22, 2015

SLOW Swimmer Profile - Jill Wilson

Hello! I am Jill Wilson and I have lived in Salt Lake City for about 10 years now. I’m from Texas originally and have lived in Boston, Nashville and Memphis. In my first career I was a professional musician and played in the Memphis Symphony for 15 years. I moved to Salt Lake with my now-husband in 2005 and we got married on a ski run at Alta in the middle of a blizzard on April Fool’s day in 2006.  No foolin’! Currently, I work at the U of U in the Biochemistry department with the administrative staff team there.

My swimming career began when I was 3 years old at the Lee High School swimming pool in Midland, Texas. My dad set me down on the pool deck and told me not to move, so of course as soon as his back was turned I plopped right into the water. Every father’s nightmare! Not long after that, my sisters and I found ourselves enrolled in swimming lessons. That was back in the old days when they taught the S-pull and the frog kick. I’m sure none of you are old enough to remember that!

Having grown up mostly in East Texas where the lakes are murky and filled with snapping turtles and water moccasins, I didn’t know open-water swimming was a “thing” until after I started doing triathlons.  My first tri was the Women of Steel in 2011 (pool swim) and from that moment I was hooked! One little problem though: I am primarily a runner, but like many triathletes I was an abysmal swimmer.  Thus began my quest to improve as a swimmer.

Over the past couple of years I have done several open-water triathlons, including Daybreak, Echo and Jordanelle. In 2013 I graduated to Olympic distance events and did four of them! I’m contemplating a half-iron this summer, the one in Utah Lake. We’ll see if there is enough water there to swim in by August. Back in February I did my first swim meet ever, the QUAC meet. What a blast! I came in dead last in the 200 but beat the time goal I had set for myself, so I was happy. At the moment I am preparing for my third Boston Marathon on April 20, but that won’t really help my swimming much.

There have been several swimmers and coaches who have been instrumental in building my confidence and helping me improve. The folks in the Fairmont Masters team and coach Max Hunter come to mind, also Becky Black, Jamie Hubbard, and of course the wonderful and supportive members of SLOW. You are all my heroes! It’s interesting how sometimes a big breakthrough can come from a casual gesture or a comment from a fellow swimmer. My friend Cheryl from Fairmont Masters gave me her extra pair of fins. She didn’t need them anymore, but I have gotten so much use out of those things! I am finally starting to break the habit of allowing my legs to dangle down like jellyfish tentacles.

Utah is such a beautiful place to live and there are so many great swimming places to explore. I love swimming at Echo reservoir and Jordanelle.  Bountiful Pond is…well, it has some cool pelicans and it’s easy to get to from work or home. I would have to count my most memorable swim as the 2013 Echo Triathlon because it was the first time I was able to let the anxiety melt away and just enjoy the water. This summer I plan on swimming in the Great Salt Lake for the first time, so count on me being at the Spring Cleanup!