Hello! I'm Shannon House Keegan, founder of Intrepid Water and Marathon Swim Stories. A SwimMastery Fundamentals and Advanced Skills Coach, I think of myself simply as a Water Relationship Coach; helping individuals find the freedom to swim further than they thought possible, whether that’s 25 meters or 25 miles. I'm also a marathon swimmer, wife, and mom to two boys: Roen, nearly 8, and Soren, 6 years old.
A pool swimmer my whole life, in high school I faced insurmountable performance anxiety that literally took my breath away. I hung up my cap and goggles for a few years before discovering water polo as an exciting application of my swimming skills that didn't require starts, turns, or racing the clock.
In my twenties I reacquainted myself with lap swimming for fitness then dabbled in triathlon, only to have my performance anxieties crop back up, compounded by a gripping fear of open water. Despite being a strong swimmer, I preferred the bike and run because I could breathe!
At 35, I decided to face my open water fears and performance anxieties and signed up for a one mile swim in the murky waters of Lake Memphremagog, in far northern Vermont, USA. As I arrived at the beach with my stomach in knots over what I was about to undertake, I witnessed the first place finisher of the 10 mile event, which had started many hours before, walk up on shore. When I realized that she had been swimming the entire morning while I was debating what to have for breakfast and how much was too much coffee, I was awe struck. I finished my one mile event and vowed to go further the next year.
When I allowed myself to look past the lake weed and sometimes murky water, I discovered freedom and ease outside the confines of a pool.
In 2010 I stepped up the next rung of the ladder at Kingdom Swim; the 3 mile event. I couldn't wait to swim more. Next, I hopped over to Bermuda Round the Sound and completed my first 10K, just 15 months after my first open water mile. I knew absolutely nothing about salt water swimming. Fortunately, I was saved by a generous individual with a tub of Vaseline at the start of the event, but I learned the hard way that I need to close my mouth when I swim. It took well over a week for my salt tongue to abate.
Each year I swam further. My fears of what lurks beneath present, but less consuming. Familiarity helps, as does exposure.
Through two pregnancies, I continued to feel a pull back to open water, pushing the limits of my body and mind while nursing babes on shore. Always listening to my body. Each experience building confidence. Ultimately, learning to trust myself.
It took a fortuitous conversation with a friend who I was watching swim and providing tips for me to realize my calling. I said, "I wish I could just help people enjoy swimming." And she said, "why can't you?"
Then and there I started my coaching journey. Beyond workouts and training plans, I want to help people enhance their relationship with the water. By developing a mindful swimming practice, swimmers can find solace from the daily grind, reduce their chance of injury, and increase their swimming longevity.
My hope is to help more people find a love of swimming. For the health benefits, sure, but because reuniting with our watery origins, fully immersing ourselves in the experience, and mindfully swimming, has the capacity to make us better - in every sense of the word.