Training for each of these swims requires a tremendous amount of learning, practice and dedication. I was never meant to be a swimmer let alone an endurance athlete. Two and half years ago, I completed my first endurance event: an ultra-marathon. A 28.4 mile trail run with over 9,000 feet of climb and descent. The main reason I chose such a daunting goal was simply because all the medical experts said I would never run again. I didn't really train for it. I just did it. (I could hardly walk for days afterwards - but the reward of pushing myself into a realm I was never expected to be, fully eclipsed the pain and suffering of extremely tired and sore muscles).
Eventually as the passion of swimming took over, I still didn't really know what I was doing. I didn't care that I was a slow swimmer. All it meant to me was that I had room to improve. I knew my stroke was inefficient, couldn’t swim butterfly, and had no clue how to perform a flip turn. And I knew I needed to change. Two years ago if you had asked me how long my taper was, I would have replied with an enquiring, "What taper?" Today I can provide a confident and accurate description of my taper.
Building endurance and strength takes a lot of time. I go to bed before most grandmothers and am awake the next morning well before dawn. The more time I spend practicing this sport, the more I learn what is required of my mind and body to survive a safe physical and mental passage across the seas. This means a lot of time is spent practicing. On a weekly basis it seems I'm learning something new about my "self" and the limits of my body. And while training can at times be exhausting, isolating and all–consuming, everything is still very exciting. I love it.
The act of trying something new, overcoming challenges, and growing is exhilarating and highly motivating. Especially when you look back from whence you came and marvel at the trajectory of personal accomplishment.
“There are many things that seem impossible only so long as one does not attempt them.” -- André Gide
Photo by Hawkins Biggins. Climbing out of the water unassisted (per swim rules) to finish my 19 hours 27 minute swim across the Molokai (Kaiwi) Channel on November 10th 2012.