Monday, August 1, 2016

Channeling the channel

That's not me in the open salty waters that separate Palos Verdes from Catalina Island, that's 20 year old Abby Bergman, a friend and former classmate of my daughters.

Last week, in the pitch dark of a midnight hour, Abby dipped her toe in the warm water off Catalina Island and, pointing more than 20 miles across a dark abyss to a luxury resort on the mainland, told her two moms, Kim and Natalie,

"I'll see you over there, at the Terranea Hotel."

All I can say is: Holy Shit!

There are few attributes in a human being that I admire more than persistence and determination.

It's what drove me to complete triathlons and three LA Marathons. Nor am I a stranger to long distance swimming. Not long ago, I staged some long distance pool swims, and with RoundSeventeen reader assistance, raised more than $5000 for Wounded Warriors.

But an open water, midnight haul across a heavily trafficked shipping lane is a beast of an entire different nature.

It is monumental by every account of the word.

If you're running a marathon for instance and feel yourself running out of gas, you stop, take a breather, and maybe dash into a nearby Dunkin Donuts for a quick pick me up. There are no Dunkin Donuts at sea. You might spot an errant abalone, but try grabbing that slippery snack when your hands are pruned up from 6 hours of nonstop swimming.

And swimming is different than running.

Years ago, I was doing laps in Playa Vista and the training coach from the LA Clippers had brought some of the guys in to explore some new techniques to increase their stamina. Keep in mind, these were thoroughbred athletes who are paid millions of dollars to run up and down a court every other night of the season.

They were winded after 25 meters. Huffing, puffing and swearing at the water after 30 seconds in the water.

Abby was in the water for more than 10 hours! I know during that time she must have thought...

"Why am I doing this?"

"I think I've had enough"

or even,

"This was a bad idea."

But she silenced those demons and pushed on to the goal line, knowing that for this (or any other endeavor in life), there is no point starting something unless you intend to finish.

I rarely see that kind of fortitude in a full grown adult.

I am astounded when it is so gracefully demonstrated by someone who just turned 20.


george tannenbaum said...

Rich, have you read anything by Lynne Cox? She wrote "Swimming to Antarctica" and "Grayson." Grayson in particular you'd enjoy, it takes place not far from you, near the oil derricks off Long Beach.

grandrue said...

As a planner in training, I used to swim 4 to 5000 meters a day. This scares the shit out of me.

Here's the insight: open ocean swimming is for heroes.