On the morning of the 8th of September Meg Ziegelbauer, 12, woke up at 3.30 am to head to Lake Monona, Wisconsin to be part of a crew of seven Rescue Divers assisting the 2500 Ironman competitors who had to swim 2.4 miles in the lake. The challenge of lake Monona swim, beyond the water temperature which on average revolves around 70°F/21°C, is that part of the race is against current. The seven rescue divers were divided into two boats and followed the swimmers progression. Overall the swim went rather well with only about 10 out of 2500 participants having to be rescued for exhaustion. To qualify for the final stages of the Ironman, the competitors have 2 hours 20 minutes to swim 2.4 miles/3.8 kms with a fair bit of the way against current.
Meg who started diving at 8 years of age, was part of the crew to rescue the Ironman swimmers. Non recue divers may wonder how it is possible for a 12 year old girl to rescue Ironmen competitors. To that, experienced rescue divers would reply that a water rescue involves techniques and equipment which allow a smaller person to rescue a bigger one, and thankfully so I would say!
This being said, as a dive Instructor myself I must pay a huge tribute to Meg’s courage and attitude which are frankly amazing. At 8 years old, Meg started diving in local queries with her dad, Greg Ziegelbauer who has been a diver and who has rescued people for years as a professional firefighter. Whilst quite a fair amount of adults are scared or reluctant to dive even in clear, warm tropical waters, Meg aged 8 went down to poor visibility and cold lakes and queries waters! This is not a small achievement.
I interviewed Meg about what she thought of the Ironman rescue experience and what were her future plans:
What did it feel to participate to the Ironman experience?
– It was kind of cool, quite interesting!
Would you do it again?
– Yes definitely, I would like to do it next year and the year after, every year if I can.
Do you remember the first time you started diving?
– Yes, I was kind of scared of the deep end and really cold as it was in April but in the end I really loved it! My dad started diving for firefighting and got me into it.
How many dives do you have?
What are you plans for the future as far as diving is concerned?
– I want to become a Dive Master, then an Instructor and then I would like to become a Navy Seal* as women have just been admitted to become Navy Seals. If I can’t get to do that, I would like to become a Marine Biologist.
*For the record, to become a female Navy Seal, you have to do between 50 to 90 push-ups and sit-ups in two minutes. 10 to 18 pull-ups and run a mile and a half in 10 minutes. Swim 500 yards/460m in 12 minutes, sidestroke.
What is your motivation?
– I like diving, and helping people.
To conclude I would only say one word: admirable!