A smart swim friend, before End-Wet, gave me some advice, actually lots of practical advice, but two pieces have stuck with me
- Swimming for 10+ hours is a long time to spend in silence and you own mind
- Finish or not, there will be highs and lows after the event that you will be dealing with for months
Today I want to focus on point 2
I was back in water 3 days after End-Wet, nothing too serious just a mile and have kind of kept to that process with my longest single swim over the past 3 weeks only being a 5km (3.2 Miles).
However, in my mind End Wet seems like an age ago (3.5 weeks) and a refrain I hear in work a lot “what have you done for me lately” gets stuck in my head and I feel lazy and I have no real concrete swim plans and I find myself maybe undervaluing the swim I did.
On one hand after the event with the initial “high” I wanted to talk to everyone about it. I wanted to share with people how weird and wonderful it is to “swim” 36 miles and having the ability to do that.
But then recently I find I don’t want to talk much about it when people ask. When people do then ask and I mention 36 miles of swimming, I follow instantly with “oh but there was current” so who really knows how far I swam.
Yes, the distance on the map is 36 miles but that’s not truly what I swam. So OK take 8-10 miles out for current, yes that’s still 26-28 miles and yes not that many people swim 26-28 miles and yes only 128 people have ever completed this swim and yes there are other factors which play in to every individual swim having its own challenges (visibility of 8 inches) and End-Wet is considered a little masochistic due to the visibility and remoteness challenges. But then it still comes back to, was it as impressive in my head as I originally thought? Was it just a float down a river, was I just doing my impression of Moses in the basket.
Then I find myself questioning other things:
How far could I actually have swum, could I have gone another hour, “yes I have no doubt on that one”, could I have gone another 5 hours, “Maybe….. I felt pretty good and was really enjoying the swim for the last 10 hours”. Had I not made bad decision’s on my goggles could I have gone faster? Maybe. What did I prove to myself by doing this swim? Who am I trying to prove anything to? The dogs and an ability to raise money for rescue are definitely one element but it this about my ego? Is it self destruction? Is it masochism to put yourself in this pain (cause there is always some pain mental and physical). The answer to all of which is “I don’t know”, but I do know I had not met my limit yet (at least in my head). But what is the limit, is it quitting, is it passing out, what defines the limit?
Maybe it is this attitude that drives people on to find their next adventure or is it that these challenges become an addiction, is this the drug and the searching for the high you get on completion of the challenge that lasts only briefly, to then be replaced by the low as you search for the next challenge to replace that high and provide some new focus.
I don’t mean to sound like I am only focusing on the negatives or the confusion, there was much that I learnt that can be applied to future swims and that’s the rub, the negative thoughts and the positive thoughts both still seem to be driving to the “next swim” and it feels like it’s going to be a long few months in relation to swimming as I figure this out.
A Somewhat Adequate Swimmer