Anxiety called last week. She always does before something big.

She’s nothing if not persuasive and within minutes had me convinced I couldn’t go on with my second Oceans 7 swim, the Catalina Channel in just under 2 months.

Catalina is a 32.3 km channel swum from Santa Catalina Island towards the mainland of southern California, USA. You swim alone starting sometime before midnight to miss the blustery afternoon winds. If I’m lucky it might take me 13 hours and I will take my place on a list with 413 others that have completed this swim alone. Anxiety had other ideas.

She put that I was too ambitious taking this on, at the outset giving myself just 9 months to prepare - less that half the time I took me for the English Channel three years ago, that my preparation has been interrupted by illness and injury, that I remain in some trouble and strife following the failure of a business venture and a divorce, and that I’m bipolar and undeserving. She always argues a strong case. The last point’s a killer.

I put her call on hold, as I’ve been trained so well by my psychiatrist to do, and I thought deeply about why I need to swim, and in particular why I feel the need to do marathon swims. It’s good to think about these things.  

Channel swimming is a metaphor for my bipolar life. The daily practice of training and preparing for these swims is a constant reminder of things I must do daily to remain well; to break things down to manageable tasks like my coach does with our set every day, to live mindfully taking just one stroke at a time, and when the going gets rough to dig deep to find the reasons to carry on. 

I resumed my call and told Anxiety I’ll have no truck with her. A solid 6km pool session to end the week, followed by a good five hour ocean swim the next day and I'm back in the game.

Ps – It’s good to be writing this blog again. I write as I swim. It passes the time and is better than my singing – even in my own mind my singing is awful.