Next month I will begin the adventure of a lifetime.
Together with 5 teammates we will attempt a swimming feat that has never before been dared.
On Sunday September 23rd, at 10am, our first swimmer will jump off the boat underneath the Golden Gate Bridge and swim west towards the Pacific Ocean.
Once a few miles out into the ocean, she will take a left turn and head south. After 1 hour of swimming, the next swimmer will jump in the water and relieve her of her "post."
After this swimmer completes 1 hour of swimming, he will in turn be relieved as another swimmer will enter the water.
This rotation will continue for each of the 6 swimmers, continuously and around the clock, for 7-8 days.
We are a team of 4 men and 2 women with a single collective goal: to swim from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. Yes, San Francisco to Santa Barbara.
An unprecedented, world record breaking 339 miles.
Abiding by English Channel swimming rules, none of us will wear wetsuits or fins – just a swimsuit, cap and goggles. Water temperatures are expected to range from 58 degrees to 52 degrees.
There won't be a hot shower or sauna to warm our bodies as we finish each 1 hour leg. We'll have to towel-dry and remove our swimsuits quickly. Then dress in thermal underwear, ski jackets and woolen hats to warm up our bodies. After that my body usually shivers for 20 minutes, depending on the water temperature.
But I will not be able to waste any time, because time in this event is limited and critical. We will have a maximum of 5 hours between each swim leg to warm up, sleep/rest, eat, go to the bathroom, hydrate, and prepare to jump in the water again.
It's a dizzying schedule for one day, let alone 7 or 8 days. Because that's how long we expect our swim to take – we will swim continuously, 24 hours per day, until we reach Santa Barbara. A time-sensitive and carefully choreographed sequence that we've been practicing. And we're ready.
But the reason we're attempting this swim is much larger and far more meaningful than setting a world record. Our ultimate goal is to raise $500,000 for a very special charity called Semper Fi Fund.
Semper Fi Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit set up to provide immediate financial assistance for injured and critically ill members of the U.S Armed Forces and their families. Many injuries are quite severe and the recovery process is long and arduous, requiring enormous funds for hospitalization, home modifications and support that are often way beyond a typical family's budget. Semper Fi Fund provides this support for these heros, and by participating in this swim and raising money, we are paying respect for their service and contributing to their assistance.
And, while I never served in the Armed Forces, I know first-hand what it's like to have your life drastically changed. I know what it's like to be injured, vulnerable, and disabled. Because, I too, was legally disabled for two years.
Less than five years ago, I vividly remember hobbling on crutches through the doors of a place I never – in my wildest dreams – imagined I would be.
Suffering from immense pain, defeated, depressed and vulnerable, I arrived at the San Francisco Prosthetic and Orthotic Service, a custom prosthetic shop for amputees and other disabled individuals.
On the recommendation of my surgeon I was to be fitted with a custom prosthetic/orthotic that would allow me to walk again. A device I would have to wear for the rest of my life.
Still in a state of disbelief, I found myself praying for a glimmer of hope but also praying - BEGGING - that I would one day wake up and this would all be a just terrible nightmare.
But as I scanned the room, I noticed two customers – both amputees and former Armed Forces servicemen - and realized I was the "lucky one." I still had both legs. A mere 30 minutes from amputation, the surgeons were able to save my leg. And while my prognosis was grim: extreme damage to my peroneal nerve meant I could no longer feel my leg from the mid calf down and had little mobility, I was still the "lucky one."
As the prosthetic technician took a plaster mold of my leg, I began to dream. I began to imagine what my life would be if I weren't disabled. I began to dream of the day when I could respectfully announce to my surgeons, physical therapist and nurses "I proved you all wrong."
In the 2 years that followed, I managed to do just that. Making a remarkable and uncharted recovery I beat the odds. I became a medical case study and began to swim.
Fast forward two years later to today. I'm still dreaming. And today my next dream is bigger. Now I dare to dream through more uncharted territory.
A new mental and physical test as I journey – swim 339 miles – with 5 teammates from San Francisco to Santa Barbara.
Because when you dare to dream, you never know, it might just become reality.
P.S// We would all sincerely appreciate your support. If you feel so inclined, donations may be given here. Thank you!