Today on the blog, I'm pleased to welcome author, Lou Abercrombie. Lou's book, Fig Swims the World is published this week. You can read my review of it here.
“Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you”
– Misty Copeland
When I completed my first ever marathon swim – 10km down the River Dart – I was not only exhausted from the 2hr 50min swim, but mentally unprepared for how I would feel upon completing what was the most challenging event I’ve ever done. The months of training three times a week, spending hour upon hour in the pool and the quarry, suddenly hit me. I’d done it. It was over. As I waded out of the water, past helpers and spectators, swimmers being hugged by friends and family, and with no one there to greet me, I suddenly felt completely alone and promptly burst into tears on a complete stranger. That was the last swim I’ll ever do alone…
I’ve never really needed anyone to spur me on with a challenge. I’m a proactive person and extremely determined when I want to be. But I’m lucky enough to have a supportive family who never question whether I should do a particular swimming challenge. In fact, on one of my favourite swims – the TrygFonden Christiansborg Rundt – I had my husband and kids cheering me round, waiting to greet me as I climbed out of the water. It was an amazing feeling seeing the pride on their faces. And there’s still no hint of boredom when I tell them what my latest swimming challenge is going to be, though I think at some point they’re going to realise that all of our holidays are based around places I want to swim!
While I occasionally get the odd comment about how crazy I am to swim in 6°C water, on the whole most people tell me how much they enjoy seeing the photos from my swimming adventures. My friends tell me that my swimming is inspiring and brave. And what’s really lovely is that since my Dart swim, they’ve gone out of their way to support me. Last summer a friend came along for the Wild Wye 7km event and even though it took me over two hours to complete in the pouring rain, she was there for me when I got out of the water crying from the cold, and drove me home when I couldn’t manage it. Something I’m truly grateful for.
Then there’s the friendships I’ve made through swimming. Since open water requires a swimming buddy for safety, naturally I’ve been drawn to others who like it as much as I do. My brother and sister both love swimming; there’s my friends Rach and Anna who like sea swimming and Jo-anne who I swim with every week at a local quarry; and finally, there’s the complete strangers on swimming events who become friends for a couple of days united by our passion for being in the water.
Fig Swims the World is a story about friendships and how they can be found in the most unlikely of places. She doesn’t have many strong friendships at school, yet in the world of swimming, she finally finds who her tribe is. And that’s exactly it for me. With open water swimming, I’ve finally found my people too…
Other places to find Joe Abercrombie: