Somewhere in the 2,000 competitors of the La Jolla Rough Water Swim is GCU’s University Pastor Mik Milem.
GCU University Pastor Mik Milem signed on for a service project, and jumped in the deep end. Steve Shaeffer and Randy Bellah invited Pastor Mik to accompany the swim team to a service project at Rescue Mission in downtown San Diego. Then they invited him to swim in the LaJolla Rough Water swim – a one-mile competition in the ocean at La Jolla Beach on September 13.
“I started swimming competitively at age 4,” he says. “My older brother and sister were on a summer league swim team and my mom had to take me with them to practice every day. About a month into the season, I decided to jump in and start swimming on the team, never having any formal swim lessons.”
Pastor Mik has not competed in several years. The La Jolla Rough Water swim was his first competition since intramurals in college. He is an avid runner however, and regularly competes in half and full marathons.
“I attended Oral Roberts University and they required every student to take a PE course and maintain at least a minimum aerobic fitness level as part of their mission to educate the whole person,” he says. “Running was the quickest means to earn the required points. It stuck with me and I have kept the discipline ever since.”
He has ran the PF Chang’s marathon and half marathon twice, as well as the 188 mile Ragnar Relay Race twice.
“I was late in running my first marathon,” he says. “Younger in life I was busy with family and ministry and ran just for my own enjoyment.”
As he sat on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, he admits the course ahead of him appeared “ominous.” He would join close to 2,000 people – divisions leveled the competition to men ages 19 and older, a woman’s division and two junior divisions (ages 13-18). The course is a triangle with two buoys that take swimmers out and back to shore over the course of one mile.
“I really was not certain that I could complete the course,” he says. “But once the horn blew and we took off, there was no looking back; I just had to keep swimming and finish the course. Adrenaline and determination really got me through the swim.”
He survived, and the experience has Pastor Mik considering more swimming competitions, such as the Masters competitions.
“I know for sure I want to train for the La Jolla Rough Water for next year and swim it more competitively,” he says. “Swimming doesn’t define me; but I’ll try my best to make it a part of my discipline so I can see where it goes.”