I thought I was just stupid.
I grew up the majority of my life thinking I was just stupid. I had an immense amount of trouble reading, writing, and doing math for most of my elementary school years. I would struggle in the classroom to the point where I could not keep up with the rest of the class. I remember overhearing my teachers telling my mom that I would not be able to go to college or get a respectable job in the future. I would cry silently in the back seat of the car on the way home from school due to sheer frustration and discouragement. I took labels on as objective-reality truths and struggled all through my early years of college with feelings of not being good or worthy enough.
The swimming pool was the place I would go to during this time of my life where I felt like a normal human being. In fact, not only did I feel normal, I shined and glimmered in the water. I was good at swimming, and it provided me with a deep sense of reassurance that I could make something out of my life. The moment I put on my swimsuit, cap, and googles, I was an invincible superwoman who could fly through the depths of the cold and promising trenches.
You are not a label.
Labels are what you call yourself in your head. They are tags that you attach to yourself to describe the person that you think you are. The uniqueness and complexity of the individual can get lost in the application of a label. I am not stupid; dyslexia is just something I have. I am not dyslexic; dyslexia is just something I have. I am not dyslexic; I am Danielle.
Swimming through Dyslexia.
It is now known that most children with dyslexia have a reasonable level of intelligence and can succeed in school with tutoring, extra time, or extra help. I found this out much later in my life as I graduated from both college and graduate school with the highest academic honors. While I did not discover dyslexia was something I had until my college years, I am thankful for that now because it opened me up to the endless possibilities of who I am. I am so appreciative of swimming because it provided me both space and encouragement to keep going, and it opened the doors to so much self-discovery and improved self-worth. As I continue to find myself One with the Water, I know I can overcome anything by merely opening myself up to the endless possibilities this life has to offer.
-Danielle Wahl, Marathon Swimmer.
Danielle has 18 years of competitive open water swimming experience. Danielle competed at the national level in high school swimming in races such as the FINA Open Water National Championships. She also swam in college competing at the NCAAs and was a three-time All American athlete. Danielle has successfully crossed the English Channel two times (2013, 2014). Her English Channel swim in 2013 was the fastest swim of the season with a time of 9 hours and 49 minutes. In addition, Danielle has successfully crossed Catalina Channel (2014). This coming September, Danielle plans to swim Manhattan, which will complete her “Triple Crown.” On top of her swimming experience, Danielle has her Master’s degree in Sport and Performance Psychology and is extensively trained on the mental side of sport, performance and marathon swimming.