On the 19th July , I shall be heading to Cornwall; not on a typical summer holiday, but a trip to the seaside nonetheless. I am attempting to become the first person to swim from Cornwall across the choppy,cold and very tidal and curent-affected 26miles to the Isles of Scilly. I will have a fishing boat with crew on it, although not for company- for 90secs every 45mins I will feed furiously on carb powder in juice and this is the only window of communication. I will be largely blind and deaf to other people.
I will not wear a wetsuit, nor will I touch the boat at any stage. If I get stung by a jellyfish, the crew can only hand me antihistamines and pain killers and sympathise. I will swim through the night, pitch black below me, pitch black to the side, blurry lights dazzling me as I breathe to the side facing the pilot boat making it hard to judge how close it is. Endless front crawl. I will do well over 40,000 strokes. It will hurt at times. It will feel unbearable at times. There will be no discernible reason to carry on. And yet I will.
As the sun rises over the ocean, I’ll get a surge of hope almost choking me in giddiness at having made it through the night. And yet I will be about half way at that point. However much you know yourself, stripping back layers of rationale, reason, personality and ego; pouring yourself into a single pointed goal teaches incalculable values. Imagine 10yrs of counselling condensed in 24hrs. Hell and back would be a quick side trip….
And yet, the euphoria, the timeless sense of accomplishment – not at having made it across to the other side- but at having gone there to see a way through is something to hang your hat on. Making land is a minor detail when the getting there takes all you know, all you are and all you didn’t know you had to give. It will take a week for it so sink in.
I expect the swim to take longer than 18hrs. Sensory overload and deprivation at once. I am excited at putting myself at the mercy of our fickle waters and weather. I’m stoical about the outcome- others have tried and failed. I genuinely can’t imagine not making it across. It does not compute. It’s not over til I run out of water.
I’m feeling trepidation that I’m letting others in on my secret world this time- taking you with me someplace I’ve held sacred. It’s part of my journey to do that- throw the doors wide open. I’m curious to see what I’ll learn this time, and I’m as ready as I can be.