Well, I am completely exhausted and done while writing this but I suppose that’s part of it.
I feel like I’ve been having a no-energy-for-life-week and it’s been really hard to get myself to go swimming. Somehow it actually works to just tell myself I don’t really have a choice to catch a break because I don’t have much time left: around nine more months before the big event. It seems a little surreal to me that I’ll actually be doing that within a year but I’ll just ignore that thought for the time being.
Anyway, today the plan was to swim across the Vinkeveense Plassen near my village Baambrugge. Laurette took us, her daughter, my mother and myself, with her on her boat so we could cross the ‘lake’. I had done it once before but this time we would go from Island 4 to the harbour. I am extremely well at procrastinating so it took a while before I had everything ready: wetsuit on, standing on the shore, turn my watch on and go!
The first dive is always cold. You sort of freeze and everything gets a little numb. The first few meters are quite heavy and tiring because you’re trying to warm yourself but you get in the flow quite quickly and then it’s just a matter of you and your thoughts, occasionally looking up to see where you’re going, occasionally stopping for water or to adjust your goggles because you can’t see crap with all that water in your eyes.
You think about so much stuff. Like the fact that I’m not terrified of swimming in open water anymore but thoughts of sharks, alligators and mythical monsters still haunt my mind now and then, just like the same La La Land song keeps returning every few minutes.
You think about so many things, you have conversations with people in your head, you prepare speeches about what you tell people about your thoughts, and you try to find solutions to your problems or the things that are bothering you. There are no distractions other than your thoughts or the occasional leaf you see twirling around a couple of meters beneath you in the black water. And then those weird images of fish, monsters and that annoying song come back to you again.
Halfway through you get bored; it’s so repetitive and you really, absolutely do not feel like going on anymore. You look up and see you still have a long way to go and you start thinking about why you’re doing this again…
It’s all just mentally exhausting and all I want is a break. Just a vacation of a week where I don’t have to swim or do anything related to my Channel Swim. But I can’t, I have to keep going and just get through this.
I’ve realised something that makes swimming in open water mentally exhausting. I’ve always been afraid of the unknown. I’ve always been afraid of the dark because something can just take you by surprise, you can’t see what’s coming or what’s around you. The same goes for swimming in the open water: you can’t see what’s beneath you or what’s around you yet you feel all that space.
Normally you always have the ground directly underneath you, and it’s not like flying in an airplane, because you still feel a surface under you, or bungee jumping, because you’re basically just falling and being pushed up again (can’t speak for skydiving unfortunately).
But you’re just floating there, with so much filled up space beneath you and it’s just something new you have to get used to. You just to have trust yourself and believe it’s not as dangerous as you think.
A whole new kind of world just opens up to you and it takes a while before you get acquainted and feel comfortable, especially if you’ve always been terrified of it. So I think the most exhausting thing is getting comfortable with being in a new environment but once you do, you start loving it and you’ll start wondering how you could’ve ever been afraid.
Eventually Tess, Laurette’s daughter, jumped in as well and that straight away makes me feel a little safer and less vulnerable and alone. It was funny to see her arms and legs move through the water and I’m glad she joined me for a little while! 🙂
Eventually I swam 3,5km across the ‘lake’ and I was incredibly irritated when I started and I got extremely mad at myself asking: why the fuck am I doing this? But once I was done the sharp edges had been taken off and I felt slightly better and quite satisfied that I had swum so much today anyway! 🙂
I am a nineteen-year-old girl from Baambrugge, a tiny village near Amsterdam, with big ambitions. I like to set big goals for myself, I like to explore my own boundaries and see if I can expand them.