What if Edison had been a Marathon Swimmer?

jcmalickjcmalick Charter Member
edited April 2012 in General Discussion
So obviously this is a rhetorical question but refers directly to setbacks and how everyone deals with them. In a way, it is keen to say that Edison would be much to the liking of the modern day marathon swimmer that, when faced with adversity (i.e. coming up with 1000 prototypes before successfully masterminding the lightbulb) he would in fact pick himself up like a prize boxer and fight for another day. In light of Tampa Bay Marathon Swim, and the many reasons why marathon swimmers face defeat (I know I have had my fair share), what goes through a marathon swimmer's mind the second of facing a setback in the moment (getting forced onto the support boat for whatever reason usually safety...hypothermia, unforseen conditions, injury, etc)? How long does it usually take for you to make the decision to try again as Edison would or move on?

Comments

  • caburkecaburke Charter Member
    edited April 2012
    I swam the storm shortened Tampa Bay. Getting on the boat was a much easier decision than you might expect. I was feeling very strong with only about five miles to go and could see the finish line when they pulled the plug. I held back on the pace so I could finish strong, my nutrition plan worked well and I was excited to finish my first 24 mile swim.

    My crew knew I was going to be upset and waited three or four minutes before they gave me the bad news. I was shocked and disappointed when they told me I had to get out. Of course, my first, selfish reaction was “the heck with the weather, I’m finishing.” But that only lasted a few seconds. I quickly realized that I had four people out there supporting me and their safety was worth a lot more than finishing the swim.

    Yes, I put in a lot of time training. Yes, I’m disappointed I didn’t reach my goal. But, in the end, I did swim almost 19 miles and had the finish line in sight.

    Chalk up a victory for Mother Nature with Sarah a close second.

  • I am an aspirant for the EC next summer. I have a copy of the Channel Association Handbook. It is full of practical and valuable information, historical data, and statistics about swimmers. It also addresses the issue of dealing with a failed attempt -with 2 different stories from 2 different points of view. Both were honest accounts and one was more accepting than the other of the necessity to stop the swim. I think that is a very important issue for anyone attempting such a great challenge - while it is imperative to have a positive attitude, a prior visit with the possibility of a result less successful than one had anticipated, is in my opinion, a valuable component of training.
  • jcmalickjcmalick Charter Member
    edited April 2012
    @caburke: I've had a few occasions where the tide got the better of me. I could read the disappointment (and boredom) on the crew's face, and although I could have been selfish to press on and never throw in the towel, I knew the right thing was to take my crew member's consideration into perspective, afterall, they were there for me on their own time! Additionally, the Potomac River Swim a few years ago presented clouds and lightning in the distance. When the escort boat and kayak pulled the plug, I knew I had to go out because I knew it was for safety above all else(that and the fact that I had developed the flu the night before and was reluctant to finish even if it were prematurely).

    @nvr2late: make sure you have a crew that understands you...nothing worse than one that does not know you (signs of despair, hypothermia, pain, etc). BUT yes, every swim is a valuable lesson to our swim resumes and give us all that more experience and stories to share! Best luck on the Channel and all other endeavors!
  • I love this idea for a thread (thanks JC), and hope others will weigh in.

    Seems to me that a "setback" due to an act of god (thunderstorm in Tampa Bay) must feel different than a setback due to mental or physical breakdown (voluntary abandonment or forced abandonment due to hypothermia or whatever).

    One can be construed as a failure; the other cannot.

    There are various cliched inspirational sayings to the effect of: If you haven't failed, then how do you know what you're truly capable of? Have you really tested yourself if you've had nothing but successful swims?

    I think that's why, in this sport, we have greatest respect for those who put themselves out there, at the edge of their abilities, where failure is entirely possible. For one swimmer, that might mean the Florida Straits, or the Farallones. For other swimmers, Tampa Bay is at the edge of their abilities. I'm reminded of Flavia Zappa's success in Tampa last year on her seventh attempt.

    The heroes of marathon swimming are the courageous ones, not (necessarily) the fast ones.
  • jcmalickjcmalick Charter Member
    edited April 2012
    Perhaps one of my favorite quotes come from Nelson Mandela:

    "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."
  • @evmo - I really appreciate your last comment.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf Member
    edited April 2012
    It seems this video that I saw on @KarenT 's blog is relevant to this discussion... Curious if the video maker is on this forum :)
    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • bobswimsbobswims Charter Member
    I think the nature of the personalities of marathon swimmers make it very hard to call a swim and get out. I think that it is why it is important to have someone on board the boat who knows what you look like when you are struggling, but are still OK. On my Catalina swim I promised my coach that if she called the swim I would get out no questions asked. I also was confident that she knew me well enough not to pull me prematurely. I don't think I have enough sense to pull myself out of the water so I wanted someone on board with who had some sense.
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