River Hugger


HAPpy People - Chris Farmer

April 23, 2018

How long have you been swimming? 
I’ve been swimming since age 3.  Mom was a swim teacher.  I was on the high school swim team in LA and consistently placed 7th in LA city for backstroke.
 
How did you find the River Huggers?
Word of mouth.  A friend told me about the group.
 
How do you respond when people are repelled by the notion that you swim in the Willamette?
I
say, “Well, you don’t swim when the particulates are up like after a big rain, and I swim with the River Huggers with the Human Access Project.  They actually track the data and provide lots of websites on water quality. ”  

What do you think about when you swim?
I listen to tunes sometimes with audio flood iPod player  - it’s water proof.  I have a list of spiritual rock Christian music or Buddhist chants.  Of course, for safety issues I can’t always do this.  Then it’s back to my thoughts which I focus on pace, form and how to increase my speed.  I've been working on interval training during long-distance swims - where I say to myself, the next 20 arm pulls on a countdown, go harder.   Of course there are moments like, “look at that bird,” or “wow, I forgot about the laundry still in the dryer” or I just pause and take in the scene.  Just moments of scattered thoughts, but I do try to bring my focus back to my destination.  I’m also watching for boats and the shore and making sure I know where I’m going.
 
How does your spiritual life inform your athletic endeavors?
I’m actually a New Thought Christian Minister and Spiritual Advisor for Unity of Beaverton.  I practice a path of a solid state of joy.  A joy that is not high followed by a low but a solid state that can weather the storms.  I am constantly turning inward to see how I think and feel in the moment.  Athletic endeavors play right into my spiritual practice.  I listen to chants sometimes.  I speak them softly to myself to build up my strength; like the Japanese Buddhist chant “the Light Mantra.”  Sometimes I coach myself with common phrases like “Come on Chris, you can do this.”  Sometimes I listen to inspiring music or podcasts when it is safe. 
 
One thing for sure, athletic endeavors can be a meditation practice.  One form of meditation is to meditate by focusing on a single object.  That’s what I do sometimes with the River Huggers.  Focus on the bridge or the shore destination and feel the motion, the movements, the waves and what it feels like to be alive.
 
What do you do outside of your swimming life?
I’m training for a FULL IRON MAN this year in Canada at Whistler the end of July.  That’s a 2.4 mile open water swim, 110 mile bike ride, and a 26 mile marathon run.  I’m also raising money for Cancer for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society with a triple crown event in Bend this year.  That’s a 56 mile bike ride on Friday, Half Iron Man on Saturday, and 10k on Sunday.  I’m also raising money for the American Lung Association through the “Reach the Beach” event in May which is a full century bike ride.  Training consumes a lot of my time.  As a weekend Minister, I speak once a month in the Unity of Beaverton main service and hold a weekly applied spiritual practice circle on Sundays at 9am.
 
Yes, I also have a day job.  I am a computer electrical engineer working for Pacificorp as a Transmission Finance and Compliance Consultant.  It keeps me busy and they are supportive of my fund-raising activities which I’m very appreciative about.  I work hard at tracking “power trading markets” and programming to ensure data quality on our bills.
 
What has been your favorite swim so far?

I love swims with destinations and clear water.  I swam in a lake in Yosemite once that had no boats.  The water was so clear, you could drink it.  I love just seeing a shore and going for it on a hot summer day.

Do you have a dream swim you would like to do? 
I’m always just looking for opportunities for open swims.  I love the Hagg Lake open water swims in May and really looking forward to getting back into the Willamette with the River Huggers this summer.  I just love the water and being able to swim in open waters.




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