January 30, 2017

Awakening the morning after a successful swim brings with it a number of feelings.

The first is one of satisfaction, of fulfilling a goal: Completing one the Triple Crown or Oceans Seven swims, for example, or my first crossing of the English Channel.

Then comes the pain. Depending on the duration of the swim, the conditions, water temperature, wind, Portuguese Man of War stings, sunburn, chafing, bruises and how scalded your mouth, tongue and throat are from the salt, the magnitude of the damage is different every time. But it’s always bad.

In my first long ocean swims the pain in the mouth and throat was horrible. Over time I discovered that the backflow that occurs at certain times of the swim helps to balance my mouth’s PH level. I recently found that red wine also helps.

My shoulders had been one of my weak points for a long time. I had to cross Tsugaru with my shoulder taped. Strength training and style have largely solved the issue, however. After Catalina my shoulders were perfect and only my right forearm hurt—probably the result of the strong waves hitting me from my right.

Then comes the mental recovery.

This transition between one swim and the next is complex.

In the hours prior to the swim and during the crossing, there is no place in my mind for thoughts of anything other than success. I forget unresolved issues in my many professional responsibilities. I am unconcerned by what is happening in Mexico and the world, or any personal problems I am facing.

But having finished swimming and having celebrated, in a few hours one returns to reality. Which, in this instance, was my work in Sonora—primarily the visit that Claudio X. González, President of the public education watchdog group Mexicanos First, would be making to Hermosillo.

The mental struggle of those first days after a swim is difficult.

In my mind there is the satisfaction of a complicated and unusual swim, the tranquility I’d gained through the cold water, the waves and the many people who’d congratulated me and expressed their solidarity through social networks or in person.

But I need to isolate those feelings. I understand that they do not pay me to do my job.

Just as I must remain focused before the swim, I cannot let my professional life become contaminated. Each domain of my life needs its own, specialized attention.

The next challenge is to control insomnia that comes when the adrenaline I generate to achieve the goal is followed by decrease of physical activity during the recovery period.

One of the goals I established with my mental coach Jaime Delgado was that my swimming would be less about “winning” and more about mental control.

Compared to previous swims, after two weeks I did not have much energy at dinnertime. I attribute this to the fact that over time I have been doing more mental training and less physical swimming.

I thought this approach would have saved me from insomnia but that has not been the case. Between the naps I took during the day and reduced hours of training, it has taken almost two weeks to regularize my sleeping and dreaming.

My overall physical condition is also a theme. I have felt tired. During the first few days I was very sleepy and in my first swims after Catalina my arms felt very heavy.

The second week was better, but I did not have any speed. It was only yesterday, after swimming 2 hours in Las Estacas, that I realized I was almost recovered.

Finding motivation again has not been not easy. I need to forget Catalina and start thinking about the Cook Strait.

And at the same time I must concentrate on my work, as I face a difficult start to the year.

Claudio Gonzalez’s visit confirmed what we already knew about the state of education in Sonora. From being a state that was usually among the first in the standardized assessments—a pioneer in educational innovation—during the past two administrations Sonora has fallen to last place in some evaluations.

The topic of obesity has been one of primary my concerns since I founded Queremos Mexicanos Activos (We Want Active Mexicans) a few years ago. The same theme was also taken up during my work with the PRI Executive Committee.

I am currently working to take the matter one step further. Together with a group of friends we are developing a saliva test that allows us to detect the risk scale of children and give them and their parents diet and exercise recommendations appropriate to their genetics.

The schools for which I am responsible remain a concern. I need to bring their physical activity programs back into balance while maintaining the quality of education, a challenge that has proved to be more difficult than achieving the Oceans Seven.

Yesterday, after reading the article by former President Zedilloin which he clearly defines the limits of the current negotiations between President Peña Nieto and Trump and invites the Peña Nieto administration to find new economic paths in case NAFTA is canceled, I found myself in a new mood.

My goals for this year are to:

  • Help Sonora improve its results in the PLANEA assessment, and support the changes necessary to ensure that all children attend, learn and graduate from Sonoran schools.
  • Achieve an economically viable and scalable solution so that many families can, through diet and physical exercise appropriate to their genetic profiles, prevent diseases related to obesity.
  • Improve the stability of the administration to achieve a year with budget surpluses as well as first-place PLANEA assessment results in in the 7 municipalities where we offer education.

With that settled, Cook and the North Channel will find their place. I’m not only transitioning from one event to another, there’s a larger transition defining our relationship with the government of the United States.

To be implement the right measures to compensate for those changes, however, I need to stop worrying about what I do not control and apply Zedillo’s prescription to my own sphere of responsibility.