On The Highs Of Mountaineering And Channel Swimming

On The Highs Of Mountaineering And Channel Swimming

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Heidi Sweetman is a mountaineer and an open water swimmer with an English channel relay with the Sivota Sharks. She has trekked to Base Camp Everest and recommends icicle mountaineering. We asked her about the differences between mountaineering and channel swimming:

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: When you are having a tough time in the English Channel, does it equate to anything that you do when mountaineering?

Heidi Sweetman: Our planet is incredible. However you believe it was created, it is a sphere existing in space covered in the most extraordinary phenomena. It has all the elements that allow life to exist and has the most extreme varieties of environment creating such great beauty and majesty. Whatever environment we put ourselves into, if it’s not your natural environment, you will be challenged. I question my motives every time I feel ‘out of my depth’.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: ‘Because it is there’ is a commonly stated reason for climbing a mountain. What can you say about your reasons for swimming the English Channel?

Heidi Sweetman: Because it’s there isn’t really the reason I do anything. It’s much more personal. [It is] much more about learning about myself and being fortunate enough to experience something pretty amazing – just being at the foot of Everest was truly humbling. The English Channel was magical. I hadn’t realised quite how beautiful it is. I’ve flown over it countless times and it looks muddy and filthy and disgusting and cold. Actually it’s incredibly beautiful. It’s turquoise.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Can you compare the costs of mountaineering with channel swimming?

Heidi Sweetman: Very little is cheap these days, but swimming in the sea is free. The whole cost of the Channel compared to one European expedition is more expensive, but the biggest expenditure is one of time in training and preparation for any serious challenge.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Are the joys of mountaineering anything similar to the joys of swimming?

Heidi Sweetman: It’s a privilege to be able to swim in the oceans of the planet or to walk on mountains. It’s exhilarating to reach a mountain summit as well as challenging physically and mentally. The hard work and motivation and personal challenge associated with doing anything makes the experience much richer because I’ve pushed myself to my limits – and usually way beyond to achieve my goals.

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