On the 29th June 2019 I completed a 36.4km swim around Gozo’s magnificent coast. Here’s a brief overview of this amazing experience that thought me lessons about the importance of the endurance mindset which includes plenty of grit and resilience when taking on challenges way outside of your (current) comfort zone.
Saying yes and kick starting a new adventure
In February 2019 I decided to join the WaveofChange Malta cause and swim around the Island of Gozo on 29th June in aid of turning the tide on plastic waste in Malta and Gozo. The round Gozo swim would be no mean feat – a 36km open water route, starting the swim at 03:15 whilst swimming around Gozo’s rugged and wild coastline which is known for its currents and jellyfish swarms in June.
This swim has definitely been filed under one of the most challenging life events I’ve ever undertaken, from both a physical and mental perspective. To put things in to perspective, a 10km swim is the equivalent of running a marathon, 42.2km, so this feat was the equivalent of running ~3.5 marathons, or 148km non-stop!
Training to swim 3.5 marathons
The first challenge was ensuring I found the right time-balance between family, work and training in the pool and sea leading up to the big event. This also included eating the right foods to fuel my diet for the swim, so I shifted my eating habits at the start of 2019 towards the Planetary Health Diet , with slightly less meat – I really recommend this way of eating (aka diet!) – see image to the right of my fuel for the round Gozo swim which was 100% vegan. I consumed close to 1 kg of dates. There were many firsts and mini celebrations for me during training as my longest ever swim up to March 2019 was ~7km! So when I swam 10km in April, I had a mini celebration and continued to celebrate my new distance personal bests up to the final training swim of 22km. Now I can celebrate my longest distance to date of 36km.
The swim – round Gozo
On the swim around Gozo, I focused my mind on taking it feed-by-feed and getting through each of the 45 minute segments as I only breath to my left and didn’t want to focus on landmarks unless I asked my team where I was (see the video below, were I asked my team where I was – half way!) The back-wash along the cliffs, the jellyfish – got stung around 5 times – and the currents from Ramla onward were major challenges, however the biggest physical and mental challenge came at around 23km when my left shoulder started to ache with pain becoming intolerable at around the 26km mark. I tried to change my stroke, took Catafast but nothing really helped, so I worked with the pain as much as I could for the last 10km (~ 4.5 hours of pain).
I was continuously visualising arriving and touching the wall at Hondoq ir-Rummien for the last 10km to keep me going, whilst also crying underwater at some points due to the emotions and pain. I chose to work with the pain and channel this emotional energy into my stroke to keep on going. I completed the 36.4km swim in just over 12 hours (see image and Garmin data below).
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”
My swim captured by a Garmin Fenix 5
Details on this swim are available in the link below. The watch was worn by Andrew Grech, who was mostly on my support boat: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3834654112
One thing is for sure – I definitely couldn’t have done this swim without the support of my family, and on the big day, my extraordinary team of gentlemen, Matthew Gusman (skipper), Andrew Grech (support swimmer and feeder) and my coach Julian Harding (observer) amongst all the other individuals that were involved in the organisation of this amazing event. Having a great team around you when the going gets tough is what will help you endure that much more and push yourself as hard as you can.
On to the next one…
Video of a feed outside San Dimitri Cliffs, Gozo
Arriving back at Hondoq!
Steve is in too! #waveofchange QLZH Foundation Yachting Malta Ltd
Geplaatst door Wave Of Change Malta op Zaterdag 29 juni 2019