Achieve the Unachievable

On Sunday the 2nd September 2018 I took part in an epic event. I swam 11 miles up Lake Windermere, as a double leg amputee this was an interesting undertaking. The race took me 6 hours and 52 minutes to complete, I had rather a long time to think about ‘stuff’.

Just to put my swim into context: I swam…

  • Over 22,000 front crawl strokes
  • 704 lengths of a stand pool
  • 17,702 metres

I’ll be honest it was a particularly challenging event. I had to make sure that I stopped every 30mins to take on food and water, my flask of hot chocolate made the world of difference. I wouldn’t have made it without my paddler who supported me the whole way. As I mentioned before I had time to contemplate ‘stuff’.

Whilst I was swimming it got me thinking about how achievable this event was to complete. I’ll be honest with you I think anyone could attempt this event and compete it, as long as they can swim and as long as they trained before hand anyone could do it.

I’ve participated in different challenges over the years, many before I was injured and many afterwards too. It didn’t matter what race or event it was there was a common theme. All types of people entered… big, small, old, young, fit, not fit, male, female, expensive kit, no kit and everything in-between. For many just completing an event was enough. Yes there are winners and yes there are losers. However, in my opinion having the tenacity to enter and have a crack is winning enough for some.

Competition is an important part of being human, I would have loved to have won, it would have been great if there was a disabled category in these events. I’m always a little disappointed when there isn’t. I’m often the only disabled person in these competitions. I would like to see more people with restrictions take part, I would like to see event organisers think about how they could make these challenges more disabled friendly. But it also takes a little effort from us, the more people who take part the more organisers will have to think about how they can make these things easier for all to enter.

When all is said and done. I think Theodore Roosevelt had it right….

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this video. Open Water Swimming does wonders for my mental health, I hope you have something similar in your life. If you haven’t go find it…