“If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.”
- David Viscott -
I’m doing this, I thought as I sat on the back of the Seafarer II ready to jump into the English Channel to begin my swim. It was just before 11 am on August 31st, 2014.
I am actually doing this!
And when Mike Oram gave me the okay to swim to shore, I jumped into the water with a final, “Here we go!”
“Here we go!”
I swam to shore and clambered up on Shakespeare Beach to see Judy’s beaming face awaiting me. I wanted to throw my arms around her and ask if she could believe it! This is happening! But I was gross and greasy in my layers of bag balm and focused on the boat and starting the swim. I know I looked around, but I don’t remember absorbing the details of much of anything.
I was just so excited. So nervous. Hoping… just hoping…
I raised my hand over my head, quivering with readiness and anticipation. There was no quiet reflection, no pause. I was all forward motion, all readiness and its accompanying passion. This is what I came here to do. And I know that I can do it. And I will. My crew and the boat crew counted down from 5. The boat horn blew. I waved goodbye to Judy, and I jumped into the waters of the English Channel to begin my swim to France.
When I put my face in the water to start the swim, I entered an onslaught of nervous dark thoughts, fears, and concerns. I was so surprised to not be my normal happy go lucky self.
Why are you doing this? You’re never going to make it all the way, you know that. Why are you even trying? You totally set yourself up for failure…
Dover Harbour in the background
I was second guessing my decision to go as soon as possible. I had absolutely jumped at the first opportunity to swim. That’s what you do in marathon swimming – if the weather is good to go, you go. Mike Oram had tried to fill his Sunday late morning slot on the Sea Farer II with a swimmer and I was the only one willing. The weather was gorgeous and what wind there was currently would die down at night, leaving me with a calm, smooth sea. However, it meant I would swim most of the day and finish in the night. It looked like the weather would be good for days and in my mind I would have preferred to start the swim at night and swim into the day. I was nervous about the night portion of the swim because I’m a little bit afraid of the dark sometimes. No matter what, though, I was going to be swimming in the English Channel at night. And I would much rather wrestle with my mind than unknown weather a few days away. This is what all my training told me to do – swim at the first opportunity.