Mark Twain once said, “Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.”

Was he possibly referring to endurance activities and talking about marathon athletes? Could his words of wisdom have profoundly summed up the thought process from the initial desire of “I want to cross the [English] Channel” … to “…what I am doing out here [in the middle of the Channel]…”?

After pondering the ideal of becoming an English Channel swimmer and the respect that it grants upon those in the English Channel community, a swimmer’s education begins when they consider and calculate the time, effort and expense that it entails. Like a course in calculus or physics, the swimmer often underestimates the hours and effort necessary.

And while a degree from the English Channel community is a great achievement to share with your family, friends and co-workers, the reality of one’s education is similar to a student burning the midnight oil sweating off text books and examinations. The swimmer, along the way, faces the daily grind of training, time management and sacrifice.

Miserable uncertainty occurs with the first touches of cold water on a spring or early summer day. Miserable uncertainty can continue during the long hours of training in the confines of a pool or the turbulent dynamics of the open water on a blustery day. Miserable uncertainty can come with a tide is missed or your feeding does not go to plan.

Graduation requires the ability to dig deep, deeper than you ever thought possible or necessary. Pain, discomfort, nervousness and worry about stamina, strength, speed, finances, navigation and logistics can all play a part of one’s education and miserable uncertainty in the open water.

But once the swim is over and success is achieved that miserable uncertainty melts away like butter on warm potato and evaporates like ice on a skillet.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source