When I was on holiday in Croatia last week I set myself the challenge of swimming to an island. I chose this tiny little island above, just a couple of hundred meters off the coast of the island I was staying on.
But that's not exactly what I want to talk about here. If you want to know more about that there will be a blog and a video up on my Year31Project blog soon. What I want to talk about here is open water swimming. Or more precisely swimming at sea.
If I ever get the opportunity to swim the English Channel - please keep your fingers crossed for me that I do - then at some point during the swim I will be halfway, which is to say that I will be 10 miles or 5 hours from land - of course there will be a support boat but I'm not allowed to touch it without being disqualified - out in the middle of the choppy and deep, very, very deep ocean. And that's scary!
At the end of the day I'm pretty sure that I can get myself into the right shape to do the swim and I'm really hopeful that in the future I will be able to save/raise the money required to do it. However, what about the mental element that comes with doing a physical challenge like swimming the channel? Do I have the mental strength?
I've ways taken this for granted. I've not given it much thought. When I put my mind to something, I invariably do it. No matter what happens, I grit my teeth and stick at it until it's done, or at least until I get to a point when there is just no point in carrying on any longer. Sometimes things just aren't going to happen and it is important to know when to give up. But I don't see myself as I quitter. However, I'm going to let you in on something that happened while I was swimming away from that tiny little island in Croatia.
On the way there I was completely fine, excited even. However, on the way back I freaked out a little. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was because the water started to get a bit choppy, maybe it was because the water was so deep or maybe one of the many well wishes who constantly tell me to be careful - they are right to I suppose, I can be a little reckless sometimes - had gotten into my head. Whatever the reason, I started to panic a little.
I stared worrying about sharks - when the waters get choppy every wave starts to look like a hundred sharks fins - and jelly fish and boats and whales and all manner of things that I didn't really need to worry about. And I only panicked a little and nothing happened. I simply swam back a little faster than I had swam there. But it did make me wonder: if that little swim freaked me out, how will I cope with being in the middle of the English Channel, 10 miles from shore?