Many of you know that this year I took on the challenge with two other friends to swim the full length of the formidable Lake Windermere – that is 10.5 miles in total. The aim was to challenge ourselves physically and mentally whilst challenging out boundaries and limiting beliefs.
On April 1st I started my training. It became clear that I had some work to do. I was used to plowing through the surf on my surfboard with muscle, brawn and zero finesse. What I was aiming for was to glide through the water like a fish.
The training has been hard and costly with time, effort and a lot of support from the family. The commitment to get out of bed and train in pools, lakes and occasionally the sea was tough. A highlight was the offer from a friend to use their idyllic, private pool at any time (much appreciated).
On September 27th Simon Walker, Simon Thurz and I tentatively stepped into Lake Windemere at 7.30am with our support crew. The setting can only be describes as picture perfect. The water was like glass and the mist was rising as the sun crept up over the skyline of mountains lining the never ending length of the lake.
We set off with trepidation but eager to start the challenge.
The first 2 hours were a pleasure, each stroke cutting through the mirror image water and not a breath of wind on my exposed neck. The only interruption came in the form of a welcome 2min pit stop every 30min to refuel on liquid and bananas
Then the mind games started with the early twinges from cramping calves and tightening shoulders. But soon the cold became more of a concern. I was struggling to keep the upper hand as the lakes 16 degrees were working against my core temperature. Up until this point I had been in control but now thought of how little distance had been achieved, how much was still to go made me really question whether I would complete the swim. Something had to change because under the current circumstances the intended result of reaching the other side was going to be snatched away.
The Game Changer In the distance, about a mile away, was a small pontoon – a marker that was now my new goal. This was to be a significant point to make some calculated decisions whilst I still had some form of physical and mental control. Am I going to stop? Am I going to battle on? (maybe this will pass and I will get better) Is it time to put on more clothing? What food is going to make a difference? I mulled these questions over and over with every stroke and still the cold water kept flushing through, draining away whatever energy and confidence I had left. I reached the pontoon and stumbled out in a juddering, unbalanced state not in full control but control enough to know I had to add layers, move around a bit and get some warmth inside of me. I battled to get more layers on and food in me to even out the temperature balance to gain control of my convulsing body. 5min, 10min, 15min passed and I could see a change. I was gaining control. My support crew was not so sure but after a phone call with my wife they felt convinced that in my improving state I could continue but the final call would be her’s. I jumped in eager to make up lost time determined that I could do this!
We pushed on, the miles got longer, time got slower but we were making ground and I felt balanced in the temperature battle, the upper hand was on my side for the moment. Words of encouragement was consistent from the support crew and doubts were been replaced with confidence again. Just keep moving, eating and drinking and dont doubt yourself.
By 3pm we had all made it,in our own individual times, we all experience our own personal mind games and battles and were pushed and tested to give our all.
This has got me thinking
What is your personal battle?and What limitations do you put on yourself? and Is it time to push your boundaries both physically and mentally?
As I look back, I ask the questions
Was it worth it? Absolutely!
Have my confidence and boundaries be increased?
Would I do it again? Absolutely!
“Give it some thought and if you are slightly inspired or challenged I would love to have a chat about what boundaries you could push and train you in your pursuit”.