In swimming straight out to sea, there’s not always a support crew tagging along- most training sessions (for me, anyway) are truly solo operations. I check the tide times and weather report, drop Dyl off at school and peg it to the coast.
The first time I went solo, I was tentative, and hugged the coastline. It felt brave just marching into the ice-cream head inducing brown water. It was envigorating and enlivening. It also induced a pain in the neck- looking up every few strokes to navigate was a bind. I much prefer the selfish freedom of someone else navigating, keeping watch on the surrounding boats and giving me an easy pilot line to follow.
However, there is a massive benefit to plying the water on your own- learning to trust your own sense of what you are capable of. Dealing with hypothermic symptoms, guaging how far you can safely push your body, reading the water- all give huge bounties of confidence and an inner strength that carries forward to your wider life. Trust in your body to cope, trust in your awareness of your state, trust in the water: yes, I’ve been caught out by a change in currents that meant a 1 1/2hr swim turned into a 3hr one, but coming out the other side, my body never felt like it couldn’t cope, my mind quickly got in line (no point kicking yourself and giving up was NOT an option- truly!!) so it proved a turning point and meant that I will go out in 5 foot chop- you don’t swim far, more up and down, but it is fun timing your breathing and surfing along; I will go out further and enjoy it. I’m not so worried about jellyfish now I’ve ben stung multiple times; sharks are not so scary (especially in the UK-more non-existent)and I can hear boat engines so can keep track of their movements.
The level of trust that you can create – both within yourself and in the universe in general – does not take away the hard work of swimming through a tide change, nor does it make you lax about getting cold, but there is a deep and profound resonance within myself that is a very different kind of surety, confidence. Quiet, not puff chested, but gritty and unswerving. I have no need to prove I can, I do it and that’s enough.
I would like to add to this that trusting your crew- and having a trustworthy crew- is vital to giving one the freedom to explore and enjoy the limits. It’s also a humbling experience and very moving to be so looked after and supported.