Butterflies and lightning...

The anticipation of an open-water swim is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. The nerves, the doubts, the fear, and the excitement are all completely and utterly THRILLING. To my mind there are few opportunities in life where one gets to test their mental and physical limits so wholly, so absolutely, in an arena that is so completely out of one’s control. Unlike a temperature controlled and sterile swimming pool, the open-water is the exact opposite. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature. And I love it.

In the days leading up to my swim my mind was consumed with a myriad of emotions and my stomach was filled with butterflies. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alive as during those days. It’s an incredible feeling. For all the seemingly hundreds of negative emotions, there were just as many positive and uplifting emotions. I wanted to savor it. I wanted to savor ALL of it. But the days and hours were accelerating and I had to a swim to prepare for.

We drove up to Lake Tahoe 2 days before my swim. Ask the experts and that’s hardly ideal, given the time it takes for the body to acclimate to the altitude. But that was all we had to work with and we made the best of it. I spent those days hydrating, carbo-loading and “tormenting” Joe with my inner monologue…. “do you think I’m drinking enough water?” “do  you think I should eat more potatoes?” “I’m worried about the water temperature – what do you think?” This final prep was all too familiar and frankly quite comical.


Because despite my nagging fears and doubts, I knew, overall I was very well prepared. I had trained and tapered meticulously to the point of being religious. And a part of me simply couldn’t wait to swim.

With so many butterflies in my stomach I felt like I was going to burst and I knew that the only relief from this culmination of months of controlled, regimented training would come with me standing at the water’s edge poised to dive into the lake, into the unknown.

Joe made last minute shopping trips and we organized the supplies. I rested, and waited. I almost felt TOO prepared. And because of this I knew deep down that something something was bound to go horribly wrong.


The weather was closing in. Thunderstorms, rain and lightning were forecast for my swim. I prayed to Mother Nature for a chance. And, just like my Cook Strait swim, I didn’t ask for it to be easy, I just wanted a chance to swim.