Swimming like life is often complicated, I guess I could throw all sports in to that category if I was to look at all the variables but screw it, I stop swimming in middle of some water and I die. In that vein I have often debated why I did not pick a different sport when I decided to return from a more sedentary lifestyle but I think the easy answer to that is, I was a shit football/soccer player, the idea of running from anything has never appealed mainly cause there is nothing worth running from, easier to just let it catch you and get it over with and cycling well, who wants to deal with the saddle sores, only sadists.
“I love pain it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something”
I believe the above statement is an accurate reflection of a lot of long distance athletes, swimmers, runners, cyclists etc. I think we often try to attribute it to a nobler cause and say ” I want to see how far, how long, rarely how fast (at least in the amateur category that I know), I am not saying it is a conscious choice but there are often a lot of similarities in personality among the people taking part in these activities (again my own personal opinion of the people I interact with), there is stubbornness, as borne in the boundary pushing, there is often self righteousness regarding rules (not a bad thing), a control factor pushing back against a world where we often don’t control things, a desire to show people that have dismissed us that we can excel at something and a certain part of us that likes pain. In that way, I have often found myself pondering if marathon/ultra marathon atheltes can define ourselves as “the island of misfit toys”. For swimmers This is not a slight against us swimmers (of which I am thankful to consider myself one) but we haven’t picked a glamorous sport, it does not contain big potential pay Checks, or sponsorship or lots of news articles, it gets done silently and with little fanfare which makes one of my comments above, an entirely personal objective of pushing back against anyone that has doubted us in our earlier days.
On my pain this week I have swam 43.5km or 27 miles, I swam 3 times in one day to hit this target, breaking up my swims to accommodate life and work. Today I had to paint a wall and my arms ached, but while I was swimming it only hurt for the first 1000 meters each day. So why do this? It’s complicated, cause I can, cause 99% of the people in the world can’t swim 27 miles in a week never mind in a day, cause pain distracts, cause subconsciously we all recognize that one day we will go in the ground and billions of us shortly after will never be thought of again and will have left no visible mark on the world maybe we are trying to find a way to live on in a history of something (ooh he went dark).
I like to listen to music loud and there is a song I have a particular fondness for that always hits home for me on this, the song is by Frightened Rabbit, the song is “The loneliness and the Scream” and part of the lyrics go as follows
“Am I here? Of course, I am, all I need is your hand to drag me out again, it wasn’t me, I didn’t dig this ditch, I was walking for weeks before I fell in, to the loneliness, oh the loneliness and the scream to prove that i exist”
Leading to an oft pondered thought of whether this is my scream to prove that I exist. Added complication occurs from the fact that I am an adequate swimmer within my peers, I am not leading, I am a pack member, a small pack admittedly. But an ability to endure pain allows me to do this, I think I have an ability to endure pain further than a lot of people, yes lots of marathon swimmer do 10km (officiallish distance for a marathon swim) less people push that to 10 miles and on, less people have swum the English Channel than have scaled Everest (not that I have done either) only 128 people have completed end wet (last years 36 mile swim- the day after I was unable to lift my left arm) and the swim I will attempt this year only 6 people have ever completed from my research but my attempt is not down to an incredible swim ability, it is down to mental fortitude, an ability to endure pain, stubbornness and a certain level of stupid, that I am stupid enough to believe will get me through.
I often debate posting things like this, because I realize how it may come across, some may worry about my mental health but honestly I am in full control of my faculties and believe many of us think these things without saying them, some may believe I am a conceited ass (maybe fair) but I know I can’t be the only one who looks at the carousel we all spend our days in, that society has constructed and thinks “is this structure all there is and must we follow?”But that’s for a future in person debate that I won’t write here 🙂
Thanks for reading my baseless, non scientific views that purely are my opinions
“It’s all a mind game and the willingness to suffer until your feet hit dry land”
A Somewhat Adequate Swimmer