Not long ago a good friend of mine asked me how my swimming was going. I told that everything was progressing well and that I was training to swim The Santa Barbra Channel.
“Swimming The Santa Barbra Channel?” She asked incredulously (nice word huh?), “How far is that?’
“Well, I’m swimming from the mainland to Anacapa Island a distance of 12.4 miles.”
“!2. what?! Wow that’s a long way how do you train for that? Isn’t it cold? Don’t you get seasick? What about sharks, aren’t there sharks down there? Gee, I know I couldn’t make it.”
And there it was, the comment that stirs up more in me than anything else: “I know I couldn’t make it.”
To be honest, there are times when I’m swimming in Aquatic Park, and nothing is going right that I feel the same way. My stroke seems off; I’m unable to keep up with my swim girlfriend (a common issue that will never change); It feels like I’m drifting off course. The list seems endless.
I can’t speak for any other marathon swimmer, but I do know that I some times will be sitting in the sauna alone at The South End Rowing Club, wondering if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.
And just as I get to that point of packing it in and saying; “Screw this crap it ain’t worth the aggravation.” I think about my friend Jackie Corbell who swam the English Channel. What’s that you say, more than a thousand swimmers have swum the channel? Correct, but it took Jackie more than 26 hours to do it! A good friend of mine, Susan Petro, did Anacapa just under 16 hours. I have no idea if they ever let doubt creep into their minds or not, but I do know it never stopped them from achieving their goal.
So yeah, I have doubts and yes I’m slow, but I won’t let that stop me. I’ll train, I’ll work on my stroke, I’ll try to swim a wee bit faster if I can, but one thing I won’t do is quit.
When I was an amateur boxer my trainer use to tell me the same thing: “Either win or come back on your sword.” I’m either going to knock this swim out or I’m gonna get knocked out, but either way, I’m not quitting.