‘JUST KEEP SWIMMING’ Experiencing ‘becoming’ a Channel swimmer

Authors: Rees, K.

Start date: 13 June 2019

This paper offers a phenomenologically orientated reflection on the embodied experience of becoming a Channel swimmer. This is a work in progress as I seek to understand the ‘more’ of my recent experiences (Gendlin 1997).

Marathon and endurance swimmers usually describe the act of swimming a long way for a long time as twenty percent physical and eighty percent mental. This embedded Cartesian mind-body split pervades much of the discussion about preparation for Marathon swims; many unsuccessful swims are attributed to having ‘let the demons and the doubts in’ and successful swims to ‘mental toughness and determination’. However, my experiencing of becoming a Channel swimmer felt much closer to Merleau-Ponty’s sense that ’I am my body as opposed to having a body’ (1964). Experiencing an intertwining of the body-self-world, I ‘adventured’ in the way that Todres (2007) described; both excited and scared at the edge of my own sense of finitude. As the swimmer in that space there is a blurring of necessity and choice, my role was to ‘just keep swimming’ if I was to achieve my dream.

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