Why did you decide to get out of the water?
Getting out the water was not a snap decision. I got in the water intending to complete the swim. But after a couple Of hours, when my mind settled, the only thing i couldnt get rid of was the realisation of the detrimental impact the stress of all this was having on my autistic son over months. His stress levels meant that he was no longer coping with everyday life very well. I needed to show him he was more important than anything else. Reaching the other side was not just irrelevant at that stage, but was exactly the wrong thing to do. Telling him was not enough. I needed to show him. I swam for a further 5 hours to make sure that it wasn’t a blip, but it all came crashing down- the months we had both been coping, trying to juggle the stress and my trying to just carry him until the end of the project. I got out with a smile on my face, sure i was doing the right thing for my family. I have nothing to prove.
What have been the highs and lows of your oceans 7 journey?
The highs are without doubt the amazing swimming community i have encountered around the world. People getting in touch and sharing my challenge, offering encouragement. And reaching a place in my life where i feel empowered and free, to change or remain as i see fit, in a life that i love. I think the lows will always be the concerns i had about Dylan not feeling safe when i was in the water. Its a horrible feeling knowing that what you are doing could be damaging your child. Luckily, dylan and i are incredibly close and we are looking forward to adventuring together more. It has taught him so much and i am immensely proud of him for managing to cope for 5 years of my channel swimming!
What have you learnt? How do you feel physically and emotionally?
The biggest surprise to myself is that i feel stronger and better now than I did in September. With only 5weeks between each of the first 3 channels, it was a gamble as to whether the body can recover enough- add to that jetlag again and again! I feel physically better than i thought i had any right to feel. Its an amazing sensation. Emotionally, it’s been a bit up and down- i feel completely fine about my decision and happy with my ‘journey’ and all i have learned. After any major event, there is a slump. I have had 5 major events in a very short period of time. I am exactly where i need to be. In recovery. I am just surprised by how little my body is requiring rest. Yay!
What impact has this journey had on your understanding of challenge and adventure? What advice do you have for anyone embarking on a personal challenge?
I think a single channel swim teaches you about yourself. So many major swims so close together, yes, i learned about myself but i also learned about the very nature of challenge. The goal is somewhere to aim, passion and drive move you towards it, but the very personal reason to want to reach the end is different. It is like an unformed question, and if you find the answer to why you were there in the first place, the end result becomes irrelevant and so there is no failure, you have arrived!! I think i would advise people to know why you want your goal, and give it your all, without losing sight of why you wanted it in the first place.
How has your relationship with swimming and water changed, if at all?
I am so grateful for my relationship with water- it is where the world makes sense to me. I am free of all landbased external demands and expectations so i am free to explore my inner landscape. It is solace and my forum for challenge, all rolled into one.
Enjoy getting wet, take time to adventure with dylan; wait for something to grab me. Its amazing knowing i have the capacity to go extreme, but i have nothing to prove. I have been adventuring since i was 18, so who knows what direction it will take me in next!
Cake was an integral part of your training. In your opinion, what, so far is the best swim cake for optimum swim performance?
The best performance cake ended up being a completely made up recipe that i called protein power. It was coconut flour, cocoa powder, condensed milk and egg. The texture was like fudge, but was so filled with energy!
What swimming costume did you wear for your swims and why?
For the swims i wore a tyr fusion swimsuit. I found they held up really well with all the Vaseline which usually trashes the suits and they were comfortable and didnt rub.
Thanks Beth – we can’t wait to hear more at the Women’s Adventure Expo. And even more excited now, following the release of her awesome Oceans 7 feature Documentary Trailer too!