Prowess

What could possibly speak more for man’s prowess as an athlete than the ability to master earth’s most abundant, most powerful element- WATER’

This is my quote for this week. I love it because it speaks about the challenges of open water swimming. But I don’t believe it is all true. We are always at the risk of the elements. I have huge respect for the ocean. I am regularly humbled by it. We will never master it. I have loved the water since before I could walk. I respect the ocean and even with my many years of training I know the ocean will always teach me and humble me. It’s one of the things I love about it. For me, being an athlete is a gift from God.

I think what speaks more than prowess as an athlete is one who acknowledges that they are mere mortals; just vessels that get to show the world a glimpse of the awesome creativeness of God. The ability to swim in the vast ocean is a demonstration on the bigness of the world out there.  The bigness of God who created the ocean and all that is in it. As the weeks pass by and the daily countdown gets shorter, training gets tougher. I feel like I am ready and now just want to go and swim, but a friend of mine reminded me that even though I think I am ready, when I hit a tough section in the channel (and I will) these last few weeks of training are going to be what helps me get through it. The mental battle I have to face each day to stay in the water and finish the hours of monotonous swimming up and down a black line in a pool or fight against wind and current at the end of a tough sea swim is what helps to mould and shape me to battle it out when it counts.

Cold, dark early morning sea swims are worth it for the glimpses of phosphorous I get to see as my hand enters the water. Swimming at night is actually one of my favourite times to swim. There is something about the stillness of the night sky and the darkness of the water that is mesmerising. At night I don’t seem to notice the choppy waves, strong currents or the time passing by. I am enveloped by the quietness of it and seem to glide effortlessly through the water. Waiting for sunrise is a welcome relief from the dark chilly air though and the warmth of the sun brings with it energy to continue into the day.

The chance encounter I may get to see dolphins, fish, rays, turtles, whales or even a shark add to the rewards I get of sharing the ocean with these creatures. I have yet to encounter a whale or shark whilst swimming, but the gift of a pod of curious dolphins makes every swim worth it.

I am at my happiest when I am doing a long training swim.  I find my joy and freedom swimming in the open ocean. Freedom can be defined to me by watching people excel at what they love.

I fight mental battles regularly to keep training and not give up on a training swim when it’s hard. But even after a tough swim, I always feel better afterwards because I have learnt something about myself. I have learnt to find joy in the journey of my sport. It can be taken away at any point, there are risks associated with open water swimming. But it is my sanctuary.