October 3, 2017
Two months ago I managed to cross the North Channel and, with that, to complete the Oceans Seven challenge. Thus, as surely every one of us has, over the course of the last weeks I have lived a host of emotions, which in my case range from disbelief to sadness.
Without a doubt, the earthquake that struck Mexico City again on September 19 was the most important event in recent weeks—and in a long time, in fact. In a few seconds, throughout the city, one of the most important urban centers on the planet, the tremendous force of nature brought down houses, buildings and educational centers. Thousands of people were left homeless, thousands of students without a school. It takes weeks, even months, for the lives of children and youth to return to normal and have a place for their studies. And it will take still more time for those who lost their homes to reestablish their lives and have a new residence.
Perhaps the most important part of all this has been how it’s reaffirmed the solidarity and the generous support that Mexican society as a whole has given to the victims. In my case, it brought me great emotion to see how my children, my nephews, Lucia and many of our friends have been calling, from wherever we are, to support those affected.
These elements of life—family, solidarity and love—are so fundamental that I forgot for several that days that before the temblor I’d received news from the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association (ILDSA), the organization that certifies the North Channel crossings: the ILDSA had doubts about my swim. In a letter dated September 10, the person responsible for certification informed me that a photograph published in an article in the New York Times seemed to show that I had not complied with the rules at the beginning of the swim.
While it was true that the news surprised me, I never imagined that it would cause a stir in the open water swimming world. At first I thought it would be a private matter, easily cleared up (the angle of the Times photo showed me at the beginning of the swim with the sea in front and on the horizon and not the land that was only a few meters behind me). Within two days, however, the topic was already being shared and discussed on Facebook and I immediately started receiving emails of support and comments in my favor on multiple social networks. I organized my defense based on the judge’s own report, which certified that I had complied with all the rules, and I also included the videos that Pablo had taken.
After two weeks, on September 23, I received an email from the ILDSA which informed me that, having reviewed the evidence, my swim was ratified. Two days later, the Mexican Swimming Federation (FMN) nominated me for the National Sports Award and the National Sports Merit Award. While it is undoubtedly a great distinction, it contrasts with what Mexico has suffered, especially Mexico City and several other states hit by recent earthquakes.
Following the announcement from the FMN, I shared in an interview with Juan Manuel Vázquez, a reporter for La Jornada, how complicated it is to receive news that would normally fill me with joy in the midst of the misfortune in which so many of my compatriots are living.
After it was published, I was surprised by—and thankful for—several private comments and comments on social networks telling me that while it was true that we were experiencing great pain, it was also important to resume life. So in that spirit, I decided to keep a commitment and attend a party last Friday at the South End Rowing Club in San Francisco. It was a night with friends in which we enjoyed tequila and a great mariachi band.
And finally, it’s time to share the video of the North Channel swim. It is a great achievement by Pablo Argüelles Cattori. I hope you enjoy it.
Watch video here: http://bit.ly/2xdVVSd
With my wife Lucía Rangel
With Kimberly Chambers
With Mauricio Prieto, Susan Moody, Carolina and Sofía Prieto
Mariachi San Francisco, Los Cachorroso
With Lilo Rost and Miguel Meléndez
The Chariman and The One
With my wife Lucía Rangel
With Cameron Bellamy and Simon Dominguez