I talk quite a lot about the community of swimmers in my presentations and I mentioned it on the radio the other week too. Over the last few weeks in the disappointment following my Windermere swim I’ve had chance to witness it first hand.
One of the most obvious ways was in the support I received at the end of the swim itself. For many people the fact that I suffered and took longer than I had anticipated made it an even better swim. I received plenty of pats on the backs and hugs and people wanted to congratulate for overcoming it all and completing the swim. At the time I couldn’t really accept it all as I felt like a failure. But the community of swimmers understands that it is actually the swims that you complete even when what feels like your entire being is begging you to quit – those are the ones that take a greater effort and should be recognised as a greater achievement. So apologies to anyone I may have brushed off that evening.
This community and show of support was repeated online. Again I brushed it off at the time, and while I’m still not happy with my swim (or myself), I can now see what people mean.
But even greater than that is the fact that some of the stars of the support are willing to help others out. Soon after the swim I reached out and asked a two-time channel swimmer if I could have some of her time to chat to her about where I went wrong and what I can do to put it right. She responded almost immediately and was very generous with her time and advice.
I do feel better after the swim now and am starting to plan for next year – thanks in part to the great community of swimmers I feel lucky to be part of.