This morning on deck I put on my swim gear for the last time. I can see the shore, the buildings and Queens Beach where I will make landfall. The last piece of equipment are my fins, I wrote on them a message in memory of my close friend Gino. I slowly slide in the water to keep the communication device attached to my snorkel out of the water. We are about a mile from land and the water is so clear that I can already see the bottom.
Ty and Paul are already on the water and ready to escort me on kayaks. It is a straight swim to the beach but the wind is strong and pushes them West, fortunately it doesn’t have much impact on me. Both of them are struggling to stay on course and very soon Paul falls far behind and very soon Paul is out of my sight. I am now alone with Ty and we are making good progress.
A few minutes later Paul is back on our side, Charlie, a person who had been in contact with our team on land pulls him with his dinghy. Paul did not realize he had been dragging a dry bag in the water which acted as a sea drogue and limited his progress.
Now the three of us are back on course. I swim a few more minutes and get a surprise. A group of women openwater swimmers came to welcome me. We take a couple of selfies and resume swimming. I stop Ty to take footage of a sea turtle laying on the sea bed right below me. Soon after I see a ray, and so many colorful little fishes.
Before I reach the beach another person came to welcome me on a surf board accompanied by his dog.
As soon as he gets near me his dog jumps in the water and climbs on my shoulders and stays there until his master calls him back.
I am now about two hundred meters from land. The waves are pushing me and speed up my progress, before long my hands touch the sand. I grab some sand, press it against my palms and let it fall between my fingers. This is my first contact with land.
I stand up, my feet are on solid ground and I am getting launched into a world I had forgotten about; people are hugging me and asking questions, lays are being placed around my neck, selfies, pictures and videos are a constant flow…I feel like I am drowning.
This experience is not real, this is not my reality, this is not what I had visualized, my dream and goal were different, I feel as if I have been put into somebody else’s body. During the past few months, I had created in my mind the perfect end for The Swim; we arrived in San Francisco, my children were swimming with me for the last 100 meters…
But I have to realize that it is now my reality. Not everything turned the way I wanted but we all made it safely back on land and we kept on focusing on our overall mission; collecting data and samples to contribute to the collective knowledge about plastic pollution, raising awareness about the ocean health and inspiring people to make some changes in their life to reduce their plastic use.
No matter how the expedition ended, I did not have any control over the weather that damaged our boat beyond repair and forced us to stop the swim, what I can control is how I am going to use this expedition as a stepping stone to further our mission? How could I engage more people and touch them?
Nothing has stopped for me and my purpose, it is just the beginning.
It has been an amazing experience and it could not have been possible without the help and support of so many people, our investors, sponsors, partners, experts, supporters, followers, on land team and my crew.
My deepest thanks to all of you!