Although I love my job, nowhere do I feel as comfortable as in the water. I started swimming in my grandfather’s pool in Cuernavaca when I was little, but there was a particular moment that made me want to be a swimmer: the victory of Felipe “el Tibio” Muñoz in the 1968 Olympics. After witnessing the race on TV, frothing over with energy, I knew immediately that this was the path I wanted to follow. For many years I trained hard and, although I did well in the pool, I never made it to the Olympics. However, swimming gave me much more than a moment of glory: it helped me improve my grades, instilled discipline and perseverance in me, led me to my first business—I started selling swimsuits and other Speedo products—and even enabled me to study in the United States.
Since then, I always try to have a goal or an adventure in mind. Sports challenges—any kind of challenge, in fact—stimulate discipline and concentration and make our lives more interesting and enjoyable. In other words, goals force us to push ourselves to become our best selves, and to me that’s what this life is all about.
That is also the idea behind my open water swims. After a period of focusing on marathons and Ironman triathlons, I decided to return to the water. I wanted to put myself to the test once again, this time in the ocean. First, I completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, which consists of three challenges: crossing the Catalina Channel off the coast of California, swimming around Manhattan Island and crossing the English Channel. Then, when I turned 50, I did it again. And more recently, in 2017, I completed the Oceans Seven, a series of seven high-difficulty open water swims around the world (Cook Strait, Strait of Gibraltar, Strait of Tsugaru, Catalina Channel, English Channel, Ka’iwi Channel, and North Channel).
The next challenge, of course, is already in sight. In August 2019 I finished a double crossing of the Catalina Channel in preparation for a double crossing of the English Channel in 2021. If the Catalina swim was hard—it took me 24 hours and 17 minutes—the English Channel swim will surely be worse, especially if one takes into account that by then I will be 62 years old.
On dry land, I also try to constantly challenge myself and create new projects. One of them, Brazada Abrazada (or Hugging Swimming Stroke), combines my two great passions: education and swimming. Through aquatic activities, this foundation seeks to promote physical activity, foster social relationships, and develop cognitive and emotional skills among public school students. Swimming changed my life and I am convinced of its transformative capacity.
The other major project I’ve recently worked on is The Forever Swim, a book in which I tell the story of my Oceans Seven experiences as well as the main lessons I have learned throughout my life. Like my open water swims, finishing the book required a lot of discipline and patience, but it was worth the effort. Both the English and Spanish versions are available for purchase.