March 14, 2016

Yesterday was my last long training in Las Estacas, 10 kilometers with the objective of finishing the week with 40 kilometers. It wasn’t easy. On Tuesday I had to swim 100 x 100 meters in Hermosillo and then 5,000 meters in the rest of my sessions on top of strength and mental training and my “day job,” work that this week included the NET Advisory Board.

Every time I have a week like this it confirms for me that the crossings themselves are the simplest part—staying focused every day leading up to them is the challenge.

Next Friday we leave for Hawaii. I’m totally focused to swim. I’ve consulted the Wind Guru site every day for a week, talked with my friends Forest Nelson and Tom Hecker about the swim, viewed several videos and visualized what is ahead of me.

What I know is that I will start at night and will swim between 16 and 18 hours. I anticipate high waves, and I will surely suffer from the sun. Forest and Tom both told me that I’ll feel like I’m being slow-cooked by the sun. Fortunately, the water temperature is between 22 and 24 degrees—a virtual bathtub compared to what I expect in the North Channel, but not as hot as imagined it would be.

This week I begin tapering off my training. First thing tomorrow Ariadna del Villar will measure my blood chemistry and I have my last strength training with Rafa Alvarez Fariña. Early Thursday I meet Jaime Delgado and Ricardo Duron for my final session.

I made an account of what has occurred since my return from Tsugaru:

  • The left arm pain is gone.
  • I’m still a little shaky on the right but I can control it without major problems.
  • My very specifically targeted strength routine has provided me with greater stability.
  • My mental training is at high levels. Yesterday I managed to swim those 10 kilometers without my attention wandering from where it needed to be. Between the 8 hours I swam in La Jolla (at a good pace with high waves) and my mental exercises, focus is no longer an issue.
  • I have come to think that the likelihood of not seeing the boat for much of the journey may not be a problem.
  • Sharks are Nora’s department. We’ve already gotten two “shark shields,” so she feels calmer.

I’m ready to start the swim, now I just need the day.

After training I went to lunch with my parents in Cuernavaca. My mother goes through a lot of anguish whenever I swim, even though I say that nothing thing will happen to me. Yesterday, however, I was surprised.

When I explained that Lucia and Ximena would accompany me but couldn’t come on the boat because of they would probably get seasick, she confidently said, “Well, I would go—I don’t get seasick.”

“Well then,” I replied, “Why not go with me?” I knew that with 5 days to go there was no way she could accept.

“I can’t—but when is the next swim?”

I could not believe what I was hearing. Did she really want to accompany me? Trying to dissuade said her, I said, “It is in August. Lucia and Ximena will be traveling while I wait for the crossing. You can go with them. ”

“No,” she said, “I’ll stay with you and wait. I want to accompany you. ”

When was the last time my mother accompanied me to a competition?? I remember so many times that she comforted me in my defeats and celebrated my triumphs when I was young. She always let me chase my dreams and, even at the cost of her feelings, she always let me go where I needed to to do it.

When I think about everything swimming has brought to me, I always return to the moment when Shirley and Bill Lee entered my life. They literally adopted me like a son—and my mother was always grateful to them. She knew what I wanted most in life, and if there is one thing that stands out in all that I have to thank her for, it is supporting me so I could go to live in the United States. That was one of the greatest demonstrations of love that I’ve ever been shown. I only fully understood it years later when Ximena went to study in England. At the moment I stood looking at her empty room, I suddenly understood what my mother had gone through for letting me dream big.

I’ll keep dreaming, and I’m happy to think about her see me enjoying one of my swims. It will be a way to thank her.

In the summer that she turns 80, I don’t suppose I could give a better gift than having her be with me in the boat. She will accompany me.