FEATURES,  Readers' Swims

Open water swimming is my life buoy

Ihad been a runner all my life. I have run the New York Marathon twice, the London Marathon and lots of other races over the past 25 years.

For many years I also worked in an apparently solid large Spanish bank but in 2013 the bank collapsed and I was laid off, along with all my colleagues. I received severance pay but after 25 years’ working that was my only compensation.

The first months after being made redundant were very difficult for me. I was depressed. I was used to working 10 to 12 hours every day and only having free time to run on weekends. I had to fill my life again. I spent a lot of my free time thinking, but the the only thought that would go round and round my mind was “why me?” I had to find something to fill my life again. So I decided to learn to swim. 

In the past, I had often promised myself that I would learn to swim, but every time I had abandoned the plan. Now was the moment! I started to learn to swim in a pool in Easter 2013. 

The first few days, when I couldn’t even swim one length of the 25-metre pool, were awful. But I tried not to lose heart. When finally I was able to swim 1000m, in one hour, it was incredible for me and I cried for joy.

It was the end of summer 2013 and I had never swum in the sea. One day, in September, I decided to do it. I swam 100m from the shore but I had a panic attack and had to return to the beach. But I wasn’t deterred. After that panic attack, I slowly increased my distances — first 100m, then 200m until I was able to swim 1000m in the sea. I also continued training in the pool.

Finally, in summer 2014, I did my first open water crossing. When I reached the finish line I couldn’t stop crying. I was very happy, because I had done it!

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On the Alicante coast there are many organised races from April until the end of October so I signed up and did lots more races over the summer. And finally, in July 2015, I did my first swim away from Alicante. It was the 5th Neda el Món Zoggs Swim Barcelona, along the beach of the Catalonia capital. It was a very difficult 6km swim because the sea, initially calm, suddenly became very choppy and we had to fight a lot with the waves. I arrived exhausted at the finish line, but it was a very exciting experience.

Now I continue to train for new swims on the Alicante coast and in new places too, while my mind is dreaming about new adventures… the Straits of Gibraltar perhaps?

I have discovered a new way to live my life. Open water swimming was my life buoy!