My swims have been extremely gratifying because they allow me to push my mind and my body beyond places I never dreamed were possible. With each swim I learn a great deal about myself. They are personal odysseys of playing with the unknown in a habitat in which I am not naturally evolved to exist.
These swims give me a great sense of personal satisfaction. However, I believe these could be even more gratifying if there was a way I could make them about more than just my own personal journey. To this end, I’ve been searching for a charity to support for my solo swims. Something that is both personal and relevant to my experience but also that hopefully resonates broadly.
I was extremely lucky to have had a pod of dolphins escort me during my Cook Strait swim. Great white sharks are a known entity within these waters and 1 in 6 swimmers are said to have an encounter. So I can’t help believe that these dolphins were swimming with me as guardians ensuring a safe passage across the Strait. Those dolphins were so close to me, I could almost touch them.
During my Molokai Channel swim from Molokai to Oahu in Hawaii, a treacherous stretch of water inhabited by tiger sharks, I was also lucky to have a dolphin escort. I remember hearing squeaks and then seemingly out of nowhere through the dark abyss appeared a dolphin lit with a bioluminescent glow. I swear we made eye contact.
I am profoundly affected by these encounters in the wild and I feel deeply compelled to give back. And I may now just have that opportunity. Many such cetaceans are subject to what I believe is inhumane captivity for profit and entertainment. Yesterday Sea World went public on the New York Stock Exchange.
I ask other swimmers to reflect on their time enclosed in lifeless pools and wonder if they would wish that on animals created for the open seas. I remember early last year when I began training in a pool for the first time. With my Cook Strait swim a mere 2 months away, my two mentors helped me put together an “accelerated” training plan. This included mind-numbing 4 hour and 5 hour swims in a pool. I cried during a couple of those swims. Here I was, captive, for hours, swimming back and forth in a box filled with heavily chlorinated water. I remember at the time thinking that this must be how it feels to be a captive dolphin. My heart sank.
Today I’m extremely proud to share that I will be supporting Dr. Ingrid Visser in an effort to raise awareness and funds for a captive orca named Morgan.
Dr. Visser and others are working tirelessly to have Morgan released and have demonstrated that she was illegally kept out of the wild and are actively seeking aid. I urge you to view the video below and, if possible, provide any support you can to assist in saving this majestic creature. Orcas can live to 80 years in the wild. In captivity the average life is 9 years. At the very least, please help me increase awareness of this poor creature’s plight.
In support of the Free Morgan Foundation,