Monday, July 23, 2007

Open Water Swimming

by Lynne Cox, author of SWIMMING TO ANTARCTICA

There will be no competitive open water swim for me this summer. Reading GRAYSON will have to do. And it will do just fine.

In this slim book, Cox tells the story of an early morning (before sunrise) training swim in the ocean off Seal Beach, California in March (55 degree water) of the year she was 17. She had already swum the English Channel twice, and the Catalina Channel once.

As the sun rose during this swim, Cox suddenly became aware of a huge presence swimming near her. She was afraid it was a shark, but it turned out to be an 18-foot baby grey whale. Because it was swimming with her, she could not swim to shore -- it would beach itself and die. So, in spite of the voices inside her head that doubted the choice, and following the voices inside her heart that felt a compassionate connection to the baby whale, Cox stayed in the water for several more hours, swimming from a pier to an oil rig and back to the pier LOOKING FOR THE MOTHER WHALE! She had the help of a lifeguard boat, several fishing boats, and a small crowd on the pier, but she was the one who stayed in the water with the baby until he was reunited with his mother.

The book is a lyrical description of the intimate connection of a swimmer to the ocean, the tides, the currents, and all of the living creatures of the ocean, both beautiful (dolphins) and frighteningly beautiful (rays and purple jellyfish). It's also the story of the power of positive thinking, and mind over matter. Everything you ever needed to know about taking risks, pursuing goals, and overcoming doubts, you can learn from Lynne Cox in this book. Here is my favorite passage:
"The answer came to me. Wait as long as you need to. The waiting is as important as the doing: its the time you spend training and the rest in between; it's painting the subject and the space in between; it's the reading and the thinking about what you've read; it's the written words, what is said, what is left unsaid, the space between the thoughts on the page, that makes the story, and it's the space between the notes, the intervals between fast and slow, that makes the music. It's the love of being together, the spacing, the tension of being apart, that brings you back together. Just wait, just be patient, he will return."

1 comment:

  1. I've been dying to read this one. I'll have to pick a copy up now.


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