Swimming against time, ignoring the finish line

My friend Cameron and I gave our escorts a quick thumbs up and jumped into the black water.

The first 30 minutes were like a freestyle swimming in outer space. I saw the light from a glow stick attached to Cameron’s swimsuit, but could not tell whether it was 500 meters away or a foot away. Once, while trying hard to catch him, I accidentally floated over him as soon as he appeared to go away. Okay, I’ll give him some room, I thought. But then the light disappeared. Shouted in panic; Will i make it

A few miles later, I stopped floating the water – swimming and projecting-vomit. I was tired, my head was spinning, and I knew I had a long way to go. But I did not look across the lake. I looked towards Cameron; He looked suspicious. I vomited again. At that moment, my mind started leaving.

I did not convert to Aquaman. I made it like a string from “Finding Nemo” and just floated – very slowly. As the hours passed, the nausea subsided, backed away by a quiet confidence that nothing would stop us. I resisted the siren call of the horizon instead of looking in the depths of the clear blue, or my best friend swimming beside me in broad daylight, or entering the water on my arm.

Many complex thoughts did not float through my water-brain. My focus was solely on reflecting the Cameroon stroke for the stroke and getting me enough oxygen with each breath. Looking back, a few moments of emotion stand out: Relieved when I felt the sun. The surrealism of eating baby food while sipping water and realizing with Cameron that our pilot boat was named Dynamic Duo. Much gratitude when Cameron, a better swimmer, slowed his pace for me. And when escaping 100 meters from our shameless guides, I was asked to pick up the pace – as if I could be at that point.

Six hours and 51 minutes after it started, we crawled onto the sand.

Focus on the task at hand and trust that the rest will follow. Because, after all, if you keep seeing how far you are, you will never get there.

Alexander Carlisle is studying for a master’s degree in business administration at Stanford University.

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