The British channel swimmer explains why she felt comfortable and transformational in gradually making to her decision.
“I reached my destination before I reached the end of the line. I elected which life lesson I learned on this swim.
Normally they get scoured out of the depth of your soul on channel crossings. The lessons I have learned since the English Channel in 2012 are indelibly marked on my body in tattoos so I never overlook them again. I cherish each one and employ them daily. I am my own hero. I am capable and brave. I am blessed. I can go beyond what is considered possible for me and for most.
I am also the mother of an autistic son. When I started this project in 2012, Dyl was 3 years old. Now, he is 8 and I am having to homeschool him for the last two years. Juggling life as a self-employed lone parent is tough.”
Her son Dyl travels with French en route her Oceans Seven swims from New Zealand to Molokai to Japan. French has had to fund five people, including Dyl, on her journey to attempt a Calendar Year Oceans Seven challenge.
“My previous single channels he has been so proud, but the stress of so many so close together has sent his anxiety through the roof, which then damages his self esteem. I am a lone parent with little back up, so I so aware of my actions and how they affect him.
Swimming offered me balance and adventure which I craved. But since the Molokai Channel, I have had a different perspective. I have not been able to sleep solo for eight months. It is getting worse. Dyl’s anxiety peaks around the swims. He had been getting more violent and tempestuous. We both love the travel that it has allowed us. We love adventure.
But the fallout for Dyl is that he is feeling awful about himself as he is not able to control his stress levels and gts terrified about hurting people because of it.
I hope he learns it is OK to know when to back down. I started channel swimming for him, and I ended this project for him.”
French made a significant decision in the latter half of her Tsugaru Channel crossing.
“The lesson that I chose today is to let go. I knew I can be driven. I am tenacious and I absolutely believe that I could achieve the Oceans Seven in a year. But the cost to my son is too great.”
French made her decision within 5 hours of her start, but she carried on for another five and a half hours. “I swam on for over five hours after I wanted to end it. I have never wanted to get out before. I believe it is the right thing to do for my family. My perspective is that this adventure – something that has no defined outcome – has taught me so much. I do not need to prove anything.
There is an incredible community of people who are willing to invest in your dreams. I hope I continue to inspire others not just to challenge themselves, but that it is also OK to not get where you thought you were going.
I found grace in the water today. It was always a decision that I would make in the water. I want to regain the joy and spontaneity that open water swimming gives. I ended up swimming for everyone else, feeling bad for myself and my son. The adventure is not over; it has merely changed.”
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