I knew without question, this swim would transport me into a different realm of existence (mentally and physically) – I was estimating a 10 hour adventure with no guaranteed outcome.
And so, as I slid into the water to begin my swim, I knew I was essentially rolling the dice and risking my life. Who, you may ask, would WILLINGLY, do that? Well I think there are few opportunities in life where we get to experience RISK - the chance to risk our physical and mental boundaries, and experience the vulnerability of the human condition. I want to see how far I can go. I want to SEE and I want to FEEL just how far I can really push myself.
Surprisingly, the first part of the swim– dare I say – went swimmingly. Mentally buoyed by my dolphin encounter, with the sun shining, I felt pretty good. Random thoughts darted in and out of my mind. I thought of my family. I thought of all my friends. I thought of all the wonderful people in my life who have supported me through this journey so far and who I was certain would be tracking my swim live, via the GPS tracker. In my head I played out recent conversations and experiences. Every thought felt very brief and very random. At one point I even sang the New Zealand national anthem in my head. “God of nations, at thy feet…” Random. Yes indeed.
My “feedings” every 30 minutes, drinking a carbohydrate mixture in the hopes of keeping the “gas in my tank” seemed to come and go pretty quickly. After 3 hours of swimming, Philip told me I was over halfway. I couldn’t believe it. OVER HALFWAY?!!! That put me on pace for a finish in under 7 hours!
My finishing time was only of importance to me because it meant how long I would spend in the water. Despite my cold-water training, and extra weight for insulation, and the fact that the water temperature felt tolerable (57-58 degrees) I was still concerned that my body might breakdown with hypothermia. Learning that my swim would be completed in less than 7 hours was such an incredible feeling.
But Mother Nature had a different idea. I don’t think she felt I was challenged enough. Anything I’ve ever wanted in life and that which has meant something to me, I’ve had to dig in and work for. This swim was to be no different. The wind began to pick up. And the water began to stir. Out of nowhere I began to sing a lullaby. It made me feel calm. But I knew everything was about to change.
“Hush, little baby, don't say a word, Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird don't sing, Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring…”