20/05/2013 by Carl Reynolds
Capt. Matthew Webb’s quote is used by the CSPF to describe the journey you’ll be required to make, to become a Channel Relay or Solo swimmer. What is doesn’t do is infer that by doing something ‘great’ you become great yourself.
I am one of those to have fallen on the foothills. I got some long hours in, but the bones (or rather the muscles) have delineated a boundary for me; “thus far and you shall merely ache; further and you shall suffer”. And because I now have more time to reflect – my aqua addiction’s call is fainter at the moment – I think about the meaning of struggle.
It is, I think, a practical truth that it’s not easy doing something great. And that a great thing varies according to your perspective. For most people, myself included, swimming across the Channel (whether skin or suit) is a great thing. For those that have crossed, I have discerned a sub-set who then think, “Ah, but what next?”. There’s the Triple Crown, the Ocean’s Seven and a host of other challenges. And these are pursued with vigour and enthusiasm.
For others crossing the Channel is mission accomplished; and they then go off and climb some other mountains. In others the crossing is a pivotal moment in their lives; things change – jobs, houses, relationships. New vistas open.
For me there is a small sense of loss, but a greater feeling of relief. It’s been inspiring to stand in the foothills and commune with the mountain tops, but for now I am on the plain again looking at a different landscape. I wish all of my swimming friends, acquaintances and yet-to-be-knowns an incredible summer. I’ll be helping to look after one of you and look forward to chatting with more of you.