Who inspires you?

emkhowleyemkhowley Waltham, MAMember
edited December 2012 in General Discussion
So, how did you end up swimming really long events in silly cold water? Was there someone or something that inspired you to start on the path towards marathon swimming? If so, who? Was it one of the pioneers of yore like Trudy Ederle or Matthew Webb? Or someone more contemporary like Kevin Murphy or Lynne Cox? Or maybe your training partner who isn't a world-famous swimmer, just someone who works really hard and loves what they do? What is it about them or their achievements that motivates you? Inquiring minds want to know...
Stop me if you've heard this one...
A grasshopper walks into a bar...


  • I did not start swimming until 24 (now 30). I quickly joined a masters team and started hearing stories of a teammate's 10K swims. From there it turned into weekly open water swims with her and evmo. Then it turned into doing events together and along the way I was introduced to RobD. Stephanie definitely hooked me into OWS, but Evan and Rob are the guys that inspire me now (both in and out of the water). Although I've never met him, I think Dave Barra also falls into that category as well. All three of those guys have had a major impact on the sport and me.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    What inspires me? This inspires me:


    Dude has metastatic cancer and, on the eve of starting chemo, does a f'ing ice swim. Incredible stuff.
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Waltham, MAMember
    Wow, that is inspiring and makes my ice swim seem wimpy by comparison. Hat's off and thanks for the tip, evmo. And Sully, I agree with you on Barra- total hero to many.

    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Charter Member
    Great question Elaine!

    The motivation for me to complete these challenges stems from an internal drive to help others in need – what better way than marathon swimming? People open their wallets to support the charity when you tell them about swimming in the middle of the night with the threat of the critters of the deep in order to help the Children’s Hospital here in Pittsburgh.

    Our fund we started helps pay the costs involved with caring for a child while in financial need - prescription costs, travel, lodging, etc. Many of these families do not have the financial means to take time away from work, or travel extended distances to care for their child. These little costs go a really long way to help the family focus on the child and not their checkbook!

    While on hiatus as an ultra-runner due a foot injury, I read Lynne Cox’s book, ‘Swimming to Antarctica’. Her first-hand accounts gave me inspiration to want to challenge myself to see what open water swimming was all about. Upon randomly booking my pilot for the Channel, I realized that we could really use this event to help others. We started Team Forever, a non-profit which gives 100% of private donations back to the Forever Fund, which we had also began a few months earlier. Our fundraising went very well in 2010, and continues to this day through my ‘Ocean’s Seven’ challenges!

    Thank you so much for helping spread the charitable word! Have a great Christmas!!
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Waltham, MAMember
    edited December 2012
    Thanks, Darren. And congrats on the amazing swims you've accomplished and continue to tackle, as well as the charitable aspect of your journey. I think it's inspiring! And I agree about Lynne Cox. She is a major motivator for many of us. For me, in particular, both as a swimmer and a writer.

    Hope you have a great Christmas, too, and a fab New Year.
    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    (Blatantly obvious plug for my charity follows):

    Who inspires me? The wives and kids of Technical Sergeant Glenn "Rocco" Lastes and Staff Sergeant Shane Kimmett. Both of these gentlemen died while serving their country. As they both were special operators who died while on duty, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) has vowed to pay for their children's college educations, in full.

    Both men died young, survived by young wives and kids. I cannot fathom what these women and kids had to go through, and been having to go through, since those fateful days.

    I've made it my mission to swim for this charity, and donate 100% of the money raised in my swim(s) to SOWF in the names of these two fallen special operators.

    To read about Rocco:
    To read about Shane:
    If you want to read about the plans for my first charity swim, check out my blog, and this post specifically:
  • Dawn_TreaderDawn_Treader Member
    edited December 2012
    The communication inspires me. I love to learn languages, so what better place to pick up a bit of Jelly Fish than the EC.
    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.
  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member
    There are so many people out there who are doing amazing things- and we'd be silly not to take inspiration from a lot of them, but here's my story:

    I did my first open water race in 2007. At the time, I thought a 10k was really far. :-)

    In the summer of 2009, I met Craig Lenning (@uss_lenning). I was going through some really crappy times in my personal life, and something about Craig hit me in my heart. He was so happy, positive, and willing to share his stories and adventures. I'd always felt like Channel swimmers were these mysterious creatures, but Craig is just a regular guy.

    I remember stalking his email from a common friend and then emailing him one night, when I was really down in the dumps, and asking him "Do you think I could swim the Catalina Channel?" He barely knew me at the time, yet he responded with an enthusiastic, "YES" and offered training tips and told me who to contact, and really got me started in the channel swimming part of this crazy sport.

    It's people like that who inspire me. The people who are open and warm and friendly and willing to share everything they know, simply because they love what they do. I don't even think Craig knew it at the time, but he helped pull me through some ickiness. I've seen him do that for others in the few years since I've known him. I've heard him talk about his swimming successes- and most of his proudest moments are from helping someone else reach their goal.

    I truly have him to thank for helping me to believe in dreams again. Doesn't get much better than that!
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Waltham, MAMember
    Craig Lenning is also one of my favorites. I spoke to him shortly after his North Channel success and he was so forthcoming and positive about the whole thing. He was so helpful and willing to share his knowledge. And to me, that's what marathon swimming is all about-- helping the next swimmer to reach his or her goals.
    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...
  • bobswimsbobswims Charter Member
    Everyone who refuses to put limits on what can be done (so long as it's legal).
  • My training partners - whether it's a long ocean swim or a tough pool set, they're a great source of motivation and encouragement.
    English Channel solo aspirant - July 2013:
    http://againsttheti.de - http://twitter.com/jasonmconnor
  • I was thinking about this today. About my OWS heroes. People who have taken time to help me along my journey. Haydn and the Cork gang. My supporters and crew in Switzerland who have sacrificed their weekends to kayak for me, and have become very good friends. They are my heroes.

    Yesterday I read in FB that "Channel royalty is coming to Dover next weekend". This made me ponder who my swim heroes really are. I am inspired by Lewis Pugh. He fights to protect the seas he swims in. I am very inspired by him. He encourages people daily to be better and to strive and reach.

    Ned Denison, the organizer of my own private extreme dream e.g. surviving distance week, is a teacher with a special gift. He teaches a swimmer to gain confidence and courage and to prepare them for the unexpected. What a great contribution to our community. For me this is greatness!

    To those who have spoken out for what is right and fair recently, I also admire your courage for doing so, though you were criticized for it. For those who have built social media to call attention to our sport I admire you too. I love your blogs (Lone Swimmer) and I read this and other blogs like bed time stories. These are the heroes who personally inspire me. I would be delighted if we could make this thread a long one by sharing positive feelings and experiences about the great contributions which have influenced us in our sport.
    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.
  • The people I have met through Sandycove swimming club, I am just fascinated.
  • "Dearladylala".....that's not you is it Fergal?
    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.
  • No!!!! Hello I'm Angela
  • No you're not. I'm calling you Fergal from now on.
  • For swimming: I was inspired by my maternal grandmother. Way back when (pre-1920)... My grandfather was in the army and was doing basic training somewhere that bordered a lake. My grandmother would swim 2 miles at night from town to a secluded spot on the base and meet up with him to "spend some time together" (her words). Afterward, and before it got light out, she would swim the 2 miles back to town. I always thought that was so cool. (My grandfather never learned to swim.)

    For general "sportsmanship: I was truly blessed to call Henry Laskau my friend. Whenever I think of good sportsmanship, gentlemanly behavior and effortless class as a human being, I think of Henry.

    Also, my first racewalking coach, a man of limitless humanity and decency, Dr. John A. Lucas. His faith in people and his generosity was boundless.

    I miss all three of them to the depths of my being.

    "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot
  • Sylvain Estadiou
  • @Sylle inspires me! Especially in club sessions when they make us do fly!
    http://fermoyfish.com – Owen O'Keefe (Fermoy, Ireland)
  • I am inspired by the open water swimming community. I was a 200 IM'er who didn't touch the open water until I moved to Ireland in 2007 (or compete in anything close to a mile, for that matter). Knowing zero people in Dublin, I joined a masters swimming team to meet people. My first practice was in the sea as the 'sea swim season' was about to start, so they were anxious to get in for their first dips.

    I barely lasted 3 minutes, and could not believe my warm-blooded Texan eyes as the majority of them swam off into the distance, without so much as a shriek at the temps. That was my moment of inspiration. It took the entire summer, and they all laughed as I sat shivering with layers upon layers on me after the swims, but I finally was able to join them on their sea swim endeavours. :) I'm continuously inspired by people in this community doing great things.
  • upafishyupafishy Member
    edited January 2014
    As cheesey as it might sound my big brother Ryan! Both him and I did squad swimming, and sadly never fit in to the "purple circle" with the coach despite never missing a single session, we never looked like swimmers, being bulkier than the rest, and really sprinting was not something he excelled at. After being told at 15 he would "never make it as a swimmer" our coach at the time refused to let him swim, and Mum came in to pick us up and found him
    swimming the set in the 'lap lane'. Needless to say we changed clubs.

    Our next coach noticed that for every 400m of kick she set out, my brother only managed 75m compared to the rest and suggested he try open water since he was never going to crack a 30 second 50m. So at 16 he did the Rottnest Channel Swim and was 11th overall in a timely 6h38. Wore his Soloist cap and shirt down the pool and went for another swim in the 'lap lane' to prove a point. He cracked 6 hours twice the fastest being 5h46 before retiring after being pulled out with hypothermia in the race that should have been cancelled where the island wasn't even visible from shore and more than half the field didn't make it.

    So perhaps not as decorated as some, but he did do an English Channel crossing as part of a team (and there is a terrible fundraising CD in which he is cheesily mentioned as the Rynomachine), he can say he had a song written about him. I have managed one failed Rotto solo attempt so far, but was on track at 10k to have him scared. Maybe if I make it might scare him out of retirement!
  • This group inspires me. All the attempts and completeds', all the cold and warm water swims, all the suck it up buttercup type comments, you guys are all very impressive to me from the first timer attempts at 5 ks to swimming Lake Michigan, Sea of Cortez, channels. All for what? you answer that I will just keep training and reading. Thanks.
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Member
    edited January 2014
    Laura Colette, Tampa Bay 2002

    She finished the race 6 hours after I did and came out of the water smiling as if she had just landed on the moon. She saw the Sun come up and go down all during the same swim. On that particular day, she was the toughest swimmer on the planet.

    Dave Parcells, Tampa Bay 2007

    The swimmer I was coaching was right behind Dave when he got out of the water. A few minutes later the Mayday went out over the radio and we saw the chaos unfold right in front of us. Dave was getting back into the sport after being diagnosed with MS. He was poking fun of me on the beach because my swimmer had a steamer trunk full of gear, and he only had a cooler and a backpack. Dave was looking at a 10+ hour swim and he was giving me shit about my swimmers 10 pairs of goggles.

    My L4/L5 disc ruptured in my back while coaching that exact same swim. I've had 5 surgeries on it since and haven't been the same. When I visualize swimming a race again I often default back to Tampa Bay and think about when Dave "felt me up" at the start of the 1999 race and smile. Just one of the small things that reminds me of how important this sport is and how much it has given me.
  • My students, who might be lazy and lack ambition, and while I might not make English sound exciting, they come back to me with stories of fulfilling a goal...finally. Or a parent or sibling.
    Also my teammates/training partners. Most are twice my age or close to it, but are amazing!
  • Laflamme02Laflamme02 Member
    edited January 2014
    I'm brand new to the swimming world having transitioned from high level cycling after an injury prevented me from ever riding again. As such I have not yet found my local swimming community, I do all my swimming alone, flounder through writing out my sets like a dog trying to bake a cake, and generally live a solitary and confused swimming existence. However, swimming is the greatest and most rewarding challenge that exists in my life currently.

    I hope it's not seen as shameless ass kissing when I say that a very substantial part of my motivation for pressing on comes directly from this forum. This is the only place that I feel like I'm part of a greater swimming community. I glean daily motivation to increase my cold water tolerance (something that was unthinkable to me before I started watching these crazy ice swimming videos), increase my mileage, and try things that I believed to be unequivocally impossible several months ago. This forum was the doorman with a friendly smile inviting me to enter into a bright, wonderful, exciting, and friendly world that I didn't even suspect existed.

    So to all members of the forum reading from all over the world, a very sincere and heart-felt thank you for the daily inspiration.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    @Laflamme02 Welcome to the crazy bunch. ;)
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • Who inspires you?
    All of you.
    Thank you very much :)
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