HAPpy People - Cindy Werhane

January 23, 2018


What is this about the rumor that you started out doing Synchronized Swimming?

CW: When I was young, we lived blocks away from a Park District Pool. I spent as much time as possible there. By enrolling in Synchro I could start my day there at 10-12 for synchro, 12-1 for swim team, 1-5 for open swim, 6-9 for open swim. Once I was old enough to life guard, I had the option of teaming swim lessons or coaching Syncro, so I taught synchro. 

What do you think about when you swim?

CW: Everything. Nothing. I use to let my mind wander, but now I meditate on different concepts. Mostly I attempt to focus on my stroke and find its faults, then correct them. If I am in a long swim of multiple hours, I might think about one person and remember our swims together or their words of inspiration and what they have taught me. After a feed, I’ll pick another person. That way I don’t feel lonely but like my friends are with me and keeping me moving forward. If I am doing a recovery swim or a mental health swim (to relieve stress, anger, or sadness, I might try to resolve a problem).

Volunteering is a sentinel part of your competitive swim practice.  Could you share your philosophy about it?

CW: The sport of OWS is not an individual sport. It’s a team sport and takes a community for any one swim to be successful. The events require a lot of work to put on, safety is essential to success, and race directors often lose money. So I believe in giving back - I support paddle, lifeguard, and organized training swims. I think it’s important as a swimmer to engage in your community as a thank you for allowing you to race. We are lucky to do so. It’s an honor and I’d like to pass that opportunity forward to others.

As an oncology nurse, you know death, you see it.  How has that informed your swimming?  Are there parallels you see between how you approach your work and how you approach your swims?  Alternatively, does working with cancer and death make you want to dance on the edge of danger and hypothermia? 

CW: I’m not a dare devil or playing with danger. I approach challenges very strategically, hopefully as safely as possible. I think this is an important skill to master, so that in real life (vs planned cold water swim training) when confronted with a challenge, you’ve practiced the basic management strategies and calmness required to deal with it. I do believe that in facing fears and observing your reactions, growth happens.

You approach your swimming with great discipline, thoughtfulness and planning.  Are you like that with all of life?

CW: No. I wish. I try. But no. 

You seem to enjoy connecting people and generously share your knowledge, motivation and goggles.  Do you have a vision for where you would like to see OWS in 10 years?

CW: Not really. I guess I’d like to see it take on its own life, without much prompting from me, which it already has. I’d like to see people outside of Oregon use it as a resource. I’d love to see OWS host more events like Oregon Swim Week. I’d like to have us help ratify new Swims under NWOSA. But basically I’d like it to grow beyond me. 

With 13 marathon length swims under your belt, do you know what is next for you personally?  After your amazing 25 mile swim across Lake Memphremagog how do you go forward and figure out what is next? 

CW: I have 6 swim events lined up for next year. Three are group events, three are solo swims. Each event has a different intent and challenge. I’m VERY excited for my line up. It will be a great year.

What is your dream swim--like if money, time and physical limitations weren't an issue, what would you love to do?

CW: I feel like I had my DREAM swim in Vermont with In Search of Memphre last September. It was magical and I couldn't have written it as a more perfect story. I can only hope to repeat that feeling of joy and accomplishment. I owe that swim to community support, team members, a stellar event director, my fellow swimmers, training partners... it was a culmination of every hard lesson learned and people’s belief in me.  I feel blessed to have that day in Memphremagog. And blessed that it was the fuel to pursue new goals. 

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