Men Are What Their Mothers Made Them

Men Are What Their Mothers Made Them

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Back in 2017, Ger Kennedy remembered his mother before a particularly tough 12-hour Sea Swim Challenge in Forty Foot on the southern tip of Dublin Bay at Sandycove, County Dublin, Ireland. She had just passed away from cancer a week before his swim. “After my beautiful Mum passing away a week ago to cancer, I was completely heartbroken and an emotionally wreck. I was going into this challenge very weak.”

But his mother raised a tough young man who got through the challenge of her passing and completed the Sea Swim with the support of his family and friends at the Dublin Swimming Club.

Kennedy nearly reached his physical and mental limit who swam from 8 pm to 8 am the next day. “I swam on a 1-mile course per hour format in togs only with the sea temperature at 9°C and the air temperature between 2°C and 8°C. The sea conditions were moderate. Recovery was set up in small shelter with gas heating and blankets while support was provided by fellow members of Dublin Swimming Club established in 1881.”

The first hour was swum in daylight, but the second through tenth hours were swum in darkness with the last two hours were bathed in the sunrise.

I found this to be one of the toughest mental challenges to date. After the initial positive thoughts for the first three hours, the cold began to takes it toll on me physically and mentally. Into the fifth hour, I really did not want to get back in and was visibly shaken. I found it impossible to get warm or [enjoy] some kind of recovery even though the shelter was unbearable hot. I also found that I really stopped eating and snacking; I ended up just sipping tea.

I finally got to hour 7 and felt this is possible only due to the positive support that I had around me. My speed had increased at last. The tide was now on the way in again so there was no more wading through kelp and rocks. My mood began to lift in hour 10 as I craved the daylight.

My body was at its breaking point due to continuous effects of cold water and air temperature now 2°C. My pace varied from 30 minutes to 40 minutes per mile, at my worst point. My speech was now slurred and my lower back and kidney area was painful. After Lap 11, I had lost count and really thought I had 2 more to go. When 7 support swimmers told me, ‘You have just 1 [more] to go, I was so happy to hear that. Job done.

My recovery got more difficult as each hour went by. At one stage, I was still visibly shaking going back into water, but my body and mind started to adjust and when in the water felt more comfortable. Just the thoughts of getting back in was most difficult. Overhaul afterwards, my body was pretty beat up from the cold water but managed a 2 km swim in sea 24 hours later just to embrace the cold as my friend once more.

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Steven Munatones