Couple of weeks ago, a news article from ABC about people swimming out in the cold in the UK caught my eye.
Intrigued, I read on, only to realize this group consisted of over 150 daily swimmers, marshalled by an 87-year-old lady in the pink of health!
It certainly warmed my heart that people halfway around the world were not only doing their part in staying active but fostering a sense of community during these troubled times.
A looming winter and the ever-present specter of the pandemic has the months ahead looking particularly unsettling for Americans.
Already deprived of nature and human contact for so long, any social activity would be most welcome for the sake of our physical and mental well-being.
Fascinated by the thought of open water swimming but not ready to get my feet wet just yet, I took the next best option.
I sought the counsel of arguably the best man in the UK qualified to speak on this topic.
Enter Adam Walker, my featured guest on the latest episode of Quite Franklin.
A native of Nottingham, England, Walker became the first British person to conquer the Oceans 7 challenge – a gruelling marathon in the open seas of the 7 toughest channel swims in the world – and just the second person to ever complete it on the first attempt.
I had to know. What would behoove a man on such a giant undertaking?
Just a few years before his record setting attempt, Walker was an appliance salesman on vacation to Australia. Faced with little in-flight entertainment options, the sporty Walker – whose dreams of professional rugby faded after a knee injury – settled for the film “On A Clear Day.”
Like the protagonist in the film, Walker became inspired to tackle his own fears of open water and decided to swim the English Channel.
It would spark off a crazy seven years, filled with treacherous tales of attacks by hostile marine life, swollen limbs, dolphins for company and many other incredible adventures.
Walker’s accomplishment stands as a psychological triumph as much as it is a physical one.
Open water swimming remains a terrifying prospect for many. Even for Walker, it wasn’t a sea of calm in the beginning.
We dive headfirst into a discussion about his preparation for the Oceans 7 challenge, and most importantly his mindset throughout this daunting task.
He speaks stoically about a sense of missing something that first drove him into the ocean’s embrace. In the searing cold, Walker had a cleansing experience far deeper than any chlorinated pool had ever offered.
Despite all his training, Walker was reminded of nature’s fury and majesty. He was simply one small drop in a wave, in an ocean methodically eroding the cliffs of his confidence.
Yet, he kept an even keel in the choppy waters and emerged from his aquatic journey a changed man.
I can only gather that the fear of the unknown is far worse than the reality of a situation. All too often in life, it is our fears that prevent us from progress.
Through his story, Walker gives an invaluable lesson on why you should always face your fears head on.
No matter what happens he says, sink or swim.