For me, the most challenging part of swimming 8 hours a day is keeping my mind busy… and not go crazy. Even though it is very difficult on the physical side, the mental is more important, it is all about mind over matter.
The best way to keep my mind focused is by having a schedule for the day to lay out what I will be thinking about.
This starts before swimming. While I am getting ready, I think about all the amazing moments I will have in the water. I try not to think about the first 15 minutes of my swim because they are very painful. It takes a while for my body to get into a routine and warm up. My muscles are sore and tight and I have to get used to the water temperature. The pain does not go away, I just get used to it.
Then I choose some main topics I will focus on during the day. I try to use one subject for every hour. These could be moments that I have lived in my past and I want to relive them or I create new ones. For example, I think about how it will be when I will see my children again, what will we be doing, what will we be saying…
Another topic is the purpose of the swim; how could I maximize this unique platform to inspire people to make some changes and reduce plastic use? I spend a lot of my time on this question.
I also imagine taking long walks with people who are close to me and imagine they are asking me tough questions about my past decisions and my plans for the future.
Once I have picked all my topics for the day, I then think about my next 2 hours. My eight hours of swimming are like a climb; during the first two hours, I have to set my pace. During hours 3 and 4 I am on a roll, at the end of hour 4 I will reach the midpoint. Hours 5 and 6 are usually the most difficult because I am not close to being finished and the pain is more intense. But I have already started my descend. During my last couple of hours, I can see the finish line and I get my second wind.
I have my best day when I forget about the number of hours I have swum because my mind has transported me to different places. I also forget my pain each time I swim beside amazing sea creatures in a place where no other human being has been before. Like with any love relationships, there is a lot of pain and pleasure.