Who inspires you?

emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member
edited December 2012 in General Discussion
So, how did you end up swimming really long events in silly cold water? Was there someone or something that inspired you to start on the path towards marathon swimming? If so, who? Was it one of the pioneers of yore like Trudy Ederle or Matthew Webb? Or someone more contemporary like Kevin Murphy or Lynne Cox? Or maybe your training partner who isn't a world-famous swimmer, just someone who works really hard and loves what they do? What is it about them or their achievements that motivates you? Inquiring minds want to know...

Stop me if you've heard this one...
A grasshopper walks into a bar...


  • I did not start swimming until 24 (now 30). I quickly joined a masters team and started hearing stories of a teammate's 10K swims. From there it turned into weekly open water swims with her and evmo. Then it turned into doing events together and along the way I was introduced to RobD. Stephanie definitely hooked me into OWS, but Evan and Rob are the guys that inspire me now (both in and out of the water). Although I've never met him, I think Dave Barra also falls into that category as well. All three of those guys have had a major impact on the sport and me.
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    What inspires me? This inspires me:


    Dude has metastatic cancer and, on the eve of starting chemo, does a f'ing ice swim. Incredible stuff.
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member
    Wow, that is inspiring and makes my ice swim seem wimpy by comparison. Hat's off and thanks for the tip, evmo. And Sully, I agree with you on Barra- total hero to many.

    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...

  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    Great question Elaine!

    The motivation for me to complete these challenges stems from an internal drive to help others in need – what better way than marathon swimming? People open their wallets to support the charity when you tell them about swimming in the middle of the night with the threat of the critters of the deep in order to help the Children’s Hospital here in Pittsburgh.

    Our fund we started helps pay the costs involved with caring for a child while in financial need - prescription costs, travel, lodging, etc. Many of these families do not have the financial means to take time away from work, or travel extended distances to care for their child. These little costs go a really long way to help the family focus on the child and not their checkbook!

    While on hiatus as an ultra-runner due a foot injury, I read Lynne Cox’s book, ‘Swimming to Antarctica’. Her first-hand accounts gave me inspiration to want to challenge myself to see what open water swimming was all about. Upon randomly booking my pilot for the Channel, I realized that we could really use this event to help others. We started Team Forever, a non-profit which gives 100% of private donations back to the Forever Fund, which we had also began a few months earlier. Our fundraising went very well in 2010, and continues to this day through my ‘Ocean’s Seven’ challenges!

    Thank you so much for helping spread the charitable word! Have a great Christmas!!

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member
    edited December 2012
    Thanks, Darren. And congrats on the amazing swims you've accomplished and continue to tackle, as well as the charitable aspect of your journey. I think it's inspiring! And I agree about Lynne Cox. She is a major motivator for many of us. For me, in particular, both as a swimmer and a writer.

    Hope you have a great Christmas, too, and a fab New Year.

    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    (Blatantly obvious plug for my charity follows):

    Who inspires me? The wives and kids of Technical Sergeant Glenn "Rocco" Lastes and Staff Sergeant Shane Kimmett. Both of these gentlemen died while serving their country. As they both were special operators who died while on duty, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) has vowed to pay for their children's college educations, in full.

    Both men died young, survived by young wives and kids. I cannot fathom what these women and kids had to go through, and been having to go through, since those fateful days.

    I've made it my mission to swim for this charity, and donate 100% of the money raised in my swim(s) to SOWF in the names of these two fallen special operators.

    To read about Rocco:
    To read about Shane:
    If you want to read about the plans for my first charity swim, check out my blog, and this post specifically:

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • Dawn_TreaderDawn_Treader Member
    edited December 2012
    The communication inspires me. I love to learn languages, so what better place to pick up a bit of Jelly Fish than the EC.

    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    There are so many people out there who are doing amazing things- and we'd be silly not to take inspiration from a lot of them, but here's my story:

    I did my first open water race in 2007. At the time, I thought a 10k was really far. :-)

    In the summer of 2009, I met Craig Lenning (@uss_lenning). I was going through some really crappy times in my personal life, and something about Craig hit me in my heart. He was so happy, positive, and willing to share his stories and adventures. I'd always felt like Channel swimmers were these mysterious creatures, but Craig is just a regular guy.

    I remember stalking his email from a common friend and then emailing him one night, when I was really down in the dumps, and asking him "Do you think I could swim the Catalina Channel?" He barely knew me at the time, yet he responded with an enthusiastic, "YES" and offered training tips and told me who to contact, and really got me started in the channel swimming part of this crazy sport.

    It's people like that who inspire me. The people who are open and warm and friendly and willing to share everything they know, simply because they love what they do. I don't even think Craig knew it at the time, but he helped pull me through some ickiness. I've seen him do that for others in the few years since I've known him. I've heard him talk about his swimming successes- and most of his proudest moments are from helping someone else reach their goal.

    I truly have him to thank for helping me to believe in dreams again. Doesn't get much better than that!
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member
    Craig Lenning is also one of my favorites. I spoke to him shortly after his North Channel success and he was so forthcoming and positive about the whole thing. He was so helpful and willing to share his knowledge. And to me, that's what marathon swimming is all about-- helping the next swimmer to reach his or her goals.

    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...

  • bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
    Everyone who refuses to put limits on what can be done (so long as it's legal).
  • My training partners - whether it's a long ocean swim or a tough pool set, they're a great source of motivation and encouragement.

    English Channel solo aspirant - July 2013:
    http://againsttheti.de - http://twitter.com/jasonmconnor

  • I was thinking about this today. About my OWS heroes. People who have taken time to help me along my journey. Haydn and the Cork gang. My supporters and crew in Switzerland who have sacrificed their weekends to kayak for me, and have become very good friends. They are my heroes.

    Yesterday I read in FB that "Channel royalty is coming to Dover next weekend". This made me ponder who my swim heroes really are. I am inspired by Lewis Pugh. He fights to protect the seas he swims in. I am very inspired by him. He encourages people daily to be better and to strive and reach.

    Ned Denison, the organizer of my own private extreme dream e.g. surviving distance week, is a teacher with a special gift. He teaches a swimmer to gain confidence and courage and to prepare them for the unexpected. What a great contribution to our community. For me this is greatness!

    To those who have spoken out for what is right and fair recently, I also admire your courage for doing so, though you were criticized for it. For those who have built social media to call attention to our sport I admire you too. I love your blogs (Lone Swimmer) and I read this and other blogs like bed time stories. These are the heroes who personally inspire me. I would be delighted if we could make this thread a long one by sharing positive feelings and experiences about the great contributions which have influenced us in our sport.

    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

  • The people I have met through Sandycove swimming club, I am just fascinated.
  • "Dearladylala".....that's not you is it Fergal?

    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

  • No!!!! Hello I'm Angela
  • For swimming: I was inspired by my maternal grandmother. Way back when (pre-1920)... My grandfather was in the army and was doing basic training somewhere that bordered a lake. My grandmother would swim 2 miles at night from town to a secluded spot on the base and meet up with him to "spend some time together" (her words). Afterward, and before it got light out, she would swim the 2 miles back to town. I always thought that was so cool. (My grandfather never learned to swim.)

    For general "sportsmanship: I was truly blessed to call Henry Laskau my friend. Whenever I think of good sportsmanship, gentlemanly behavior and effortless class as a human being, I think of Henry.

    Also, my first racewalking coach, a man of limitless humanity and decency, Dr. John A. Lucas. His faith in people and his generosity was boundless.

    I miss all three of them to the depths of my being.


    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • Sylvain Estadiou
  • owenswims93owenswims93 Fermoy, IrelandSenior Member
    @Sylle inspires me! Especially in club sessions when they make us do fly!

    http://fermoyfish.com – Owen O'Keefe (Fermoy, Ireland)

  • I am inspired by the open water swimming community. I was a 200 IM'er who didn't touch the open water until I moved to Ireland in 2007 (or compete in anything close to a mile, for that matter). Knowing zero people in Dublin, I joined a masters swimming team to meet people. My first practice was in the sea as the 'sea swim season' was about to start, so they were anxious to get in for their first dips.

    I barely lasted 3 minutes, and could not believe my warm-blooded Texan eyes as the majority of them swam off into the distance, without so much as a shriek at the temps. That was my moment of inspiration. It took the entire summer, and they all laughed as I sat shivering with layers upon layers on me after the swims, but I finally was able to join them on their sea swim endeavours. :) I'm continuously inspired by people in this community doing great things.
  • This group inspires me. All the attempts and completeds', all the cold and warm water swims, all the suck it up buttercup type comments, you guys are all very impressive to me from the first timer attempts at 5 ks to swimming Lake Michigan, Sea of Cortez, channels. All for what? you answer that I will just keep training and reading. Thanks.
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    edited January 2014
    Laura Colette, Tampa Bay 2002

    She finished the race 6 hours after I did and came out of the water smiling as if she had just landed on the moon. She saw the Sun come up and go down all during the same swim. On that particular day, she was the toughest swimmer on the planet.

    Dave Parcells, Tampa Bay 2007

    The swimmer I was coaching was right behind Dave when he got out of the water. A few minutes later the Mayday went out over the radio and we saw the chaos unfold right in front of us. Dave was getting back into the sport after being diagnosed with MS. He was poking fun of me on the beach because my swimmer had a steamer trunk full of gear, and he only had a cooler and a backpack. Dave was looking at a 10+ hour swim and he was giving me shit about my swimmers 10 pairs of goggles.

    My L4/L5 disc ruptured in my back while coaching that exact same swim. I've had 5 surgeries on it since and haven't been the same. When I visualize swimming a race again I often default back to Tampa Bay and think about when Dave "felt me up" at the start of the 1999 race and smile. Just one of the small things that reminds me of how important this sport is and how much it has given me.
  • My students, who might be lazy and lack ambition, and while I might not make English sound exciting, they come back to me with stories of fulfilling a goal...finally. Or a parent or sibling.
    Also my teammates/training partners. Most are twice my age or close to it, but are amazing!
  • Laflamme02Laflamme02 Member
    edited January 2014
    I'm brand new to the swimming world having transitioned from high level cycling after an injury prevented me from ever riding again. As such I have not yet found my local swimming community, I do all my swimming alone, flounder through writing out my sets like a dog trying to bake a cake, and generally live a solitary and confused swimming existence. However, swimming is the greatest and most rewarding challenge that exists in my life currently.

    I hope it's not seen as shameless ass kissing when I say that a very substantial part of my motivation for pressing on comes directly from this forum. This is the only place that I feel like I'm part of a greater swimming community. I glean daily motivation to increase my cold water tolerance (something that was unthinkable to me before I started watching these crazy ice swimming videos), increase my mileage, and try things that I believed to be unequivocally impossible several months ago. This forum was the doorman with a friendly smile inviting me to enter into a bright, wonderful, exciting, and friendly world that I didn't even suspect existed.

    So to all members of the forum reading from all over the world, a very sincere and heart-felt thank you for the daily inspiration.
  • Who inspires you?
    All of you.
    Thank you very much :)
  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
    Bert Thomas, not afraid of cold water, and not afraid to chase a few firsts.

    (teaser: Bert Thomas is my summer plans.)

    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member
    Andrew, you inspire me! ;)

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member
    Where do I start??

    As an injured runner in 2002, missing competing in something, I tried my first open water swim, just a mile, although it felt like forever. The kayak volunteers who kept telling me my stroke looked great (in reality, I highly doubt it but I was willing to believe anything positive at that point).

    First masters swim experience 2005--I joined out of curiosity. Called the coach fully expecting to be told that this was for the super fast post-collegiate swimmers. (I think I kind of hoped he'd say that so I could think at least I tried.) No... he was so enthusiastic and welcoming, I had to come to a practice--and although it was quite hard at first (yes, even though it was only 2000 yards!), he pushed, encouraged, cheered and got me through it--and I kept coming back. Then he talked me into an ocean mile. What? No way! I was good w/ a bay swim--not ocean swimming. But this coach was so persuasive, well okay, let's try it. Going through breakers, I was terrified and about to turn back but it looked just as scary going back. A lovely volunteer on a surfboard told me I could hang on to her board if I needed to. Just hearing her say that gave me confidence and I didn't grab the board. Knowing it was there was all I needed. The rest of the swim went fine and the coach was on shore yelling and cheering when I came in.

    After that swim, someone told me about a 5 mile swim that took place from Fire Island Lighthouse to the mainland. At first, I thought, No way--too long--but an article I read in Outside about some guys who swam from island to island in the Caribbean and said to pick a goal worth training for made me wonder if this was the goal.

    2007. First Great South Bay Swim--and I got so much help and feedback from so many people in preparing. I spent part of the swim being seasick and while swimming swore I'd never do it again... until I reached land and the exhilaration of having done this swim--and met such wonderful, amazing people in the process fueled my swimming.

    After a relatively slow bay swim in 2010, I focused a lot on running, but the swimming bug kept finding me. Last year, I met the most wonderful masters group, full of very motivated, inspiring people--some doing their first tri, others 5k swims, and one fellow who swam Little Red Lighthouse and wants to swim Gibraltar. We are all different speeds, but the coaches take time with each of us and show an interest in our goals. We work hard in workouts, yet not without a lot of support and encouragement--and challenges. We do open water swims together in the summer in a river. We do pool practices year round. And sometimes people get together for swim meets or extra swims such as 100x100. There's such energy and camaraderie--and the coaches are both very accomplished swimmers--both have done swims of at least 10 miles or more so I can trust their advice.

    These people who saw me to this point--all of them--are my heroes. There are so many others whose books I read--Lynne Cox, Penny Dean, Shelley Taylor Smith... and more. I don't know if I see myself swimming anything as exalted as the channel swims some of you are planning, but I didn't think I could do an ocean swim--or a 5 mile swim... And this year I signed up for the Boston Light lottery. Whether I get in or not, the adventure will continue b/c the friends in my swim group and elsewhere show me so many possibilities. I didn't think I'd do a polar bear plunge and I did for the first time this year--because a teammate persuaded me. I think this is what inspiring people do: they're enthusiastic and love the game so much that their excitement is infectious! It's a great community and casts a wide net!

    Keep on swimming, folk! Apologies for the length but this topic just got me started!
  • GruntorGruntor MelbourneMember
    After my first ocean swim, I came across the Loneswimmer's blog and couldn't stop reading it. As a result of reading his blog, not only did I learn a great deal, I joined an open water swim group, I swam in the sea a lot, and then I trained for (and completed) my first marathon swim. Further inspired by his writing and swimming stories, I made a goal to swim without a wetsuit for every month of the year. I discovered that I really enjoyed, actually really, the cold water and everything about it. Thanks Loneswimmer for your great writing. You can inspire people on the other side of the planet to enjoy the ocean in many new ways.
  • j9swimj9swim CharlestonSenior Member
    who inspires me....Capri Djatiasmoro! while she may not be a huge marathon swimmer - she inspires me to swim without limits - to find joy in the water and to give back and volunteer so others can grow and enjoy the sport safely. long before i met her i would read her profile on nycswim to see what she had accomplished, that has helped show me that the slow girl in the slow lane can aspire and accomplish marathon swims at any age.
  • phodgeszohophodgeszoho UKSenior Member
    "Sometimes I wonder if it is these few moments that best explain marathon swimming. When the swimmer swims until maybe they think they can swim no more. It’s not about the time or the distance or even the swimming, but when this point arrives, it’s about what happens next." - @loneswimmer

    I take inspiration from swimmers who "regardless of time or distance" found out what happened next. :-)
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    edited December 2016

    I missed this yesterday, but was reminded today when my wife forwarded me this article about Gertrude Ederle, truly someone who inspires me.


    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Did my longest swim this year, 8 miles, and reading about the swims on this forum, I know I have a long way to go. But I wouldn't have believed anyone who told me I'd be swimming 8 miles either. Knowing this is just barely a beginning fills me with curiosity to find out more about what's out there to try. I'm still a fledgling among superstars!

    As for this year's inspiration--how can I narrow it down? So many awesome swims/swimmers to think about. I think @ssthomas 's Lake Powell swim probably gets my personal title for swim of the year. I think of that swim every time a swim practice gets hard and the coach wants me to meet a tighter interval or try a skill that makes me feel awkward or push through another repeat... and think "Come on, girl! This is way easier than 81 miles!"

    I don't see myself doing anything that long, but my limits are slowly stretching.

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WASenior Member

    Gotta agree w @dpm50.

  • miklcctmiklcct London, United KingdomMem​ber
    edited June 2020

    Basically I admire every long distance swimmer who is older than me AND much faster than me. There are 3 long distance swimmers who inspire me particularly, Simon Holliday, Edie Hu and Alex Fong.

    Simon is a Briton. He is a learning & development professional. The great swims he has done include the English Channel (2011), HK (Lantau) - Macau (2015, not officially ratified with no official governing body), and round Hong Kong (2017). He is the founder of Splash Foundation in Hong Kong which is a charity to provide swim lessons to underprivileged people and domestic workers in Hong Kong, who did not have chance to learn swimming back in their home countries. He did his round Hong Kong swim to fund-raise for Splash Foundation he created, and broke the former record by Linda McGill. Although I am not using the word idol to describe him, he is my most respected person who I learn from. He is a caring person who I'm comfortable staying with. He swims very fast that I can't catch up him.

    Edie is an American. She is a wealth expert specialising in art working in an American bank. She started open water swimming after coming to Hong Kong and makes significant contribution to the open water community here. She is one of the leader of the OWS group here, and now go on to organise races. She races the Clean Half and Cold Half in Hong Kong every year. She has also done Rottnest Channel two times, in 2018 and 2019. She is also a Splash coach and she also did the round HK swim in 2018 to fund-raise for it, and finished within minutes of the then-record by Simon. I describe her as my goddess. Although she isn't as fast as Simon, she is still much faster than me which I can't catch up her swimming.

    Alex is a local born Hongkonger. He is a former Olympian and a canto pop-star, singer and actor. Last August he suddenly announced that he would round Hong Kong to fund-raise for a charity he cooperated, "A Drop Of Life" in November but at that time he had no OW experience yet. This basically shocked me because the previous two people had significant OW experience by the time they rounded Hong Kong, and I believe that rounding HK is a feat comparable to swimming the Channel. He finally rounded the island breaking the previous record by about an hour and a half!!!!! and raised more than 8 million HK$ for the charity!!!!! He has become the first local to do the round HK swim which is in my bucket list. Moreover, he is also an alumnus of HKU, started and ended the swim just outside our training base. Therefore I describe him as completed my exact dream swim. The only imperfect part is the charity he helped is not one who helps local people. Instead the charity helps to build water infrastructure in underdeveloped world lacking access to clean water. Therefore he has become my idol and I want to imitate him in the future. Sadly he no longer swims OW after his feat as he prefers the pool rather than OW and he doesn't like cold water, and I have never met him afterwards. He is now training for world masters.

    These 3 people are the 3 people who have done round HK swims in the modern time. Therefore I am inspired to repeat their feat, however due to my identity as a Hongkonger, I would like to fund-raise for a charity which is really helping Hong Kong people, especially since the start of the liberation movement. The earliest viable date I can do it is around February / March 2021, just before my plan to go to the UK for a working holiday, giving me enough time to train for it in the cold season (from November or December) and as a test, in my comfort zone, to see if I'm really ready to swim the Channel afterwards in September.

    Since the liberation movement there are a lot of people telling people to cut donations for well-known charities such as Médecins Sans Frontières, etc. because of their (in)action to help local people in crisis when attacked by the authority, and only very few charities are actively helping Hong Kong people. I have approached one who run programme to give shelter to homeless people in Hong Kong but they do not accept my invitation to organise a fundraising programme. Therefore I have decided not to do it in 2021 as I can't make an impact to the liberation movement from it, and it is too expensive (about 2x the cost of swimming the English Channel) to be a training swim, which really stretches my finance if I were to do it, then the English Channel, and arrange a working holiday in the same calendar year. I will do it as soon as Hong Kong is liberated to celebrate for it.

    Also, Simon and Edie are in the same club as me, training together, however they are in lane 4 (fastest) but I'm in lane 1 (slowest). I haven't advanced even I have trained for a year in the club, with some newcomers joining lane 2 directly so I'm really disappointed and I'm thinking if I should train in other clubs instead, but I have no marathon swimming friends in other clubs as most marathon swimmers in Hong Kong are in the club that I'm currently in now. I have made good friends here and it has become my identity in swimming and triathlon, including the fact that it has a close relationship to HKU which I am a staff member and alumnus as well, so it is really now a dilemma for me.

    Apart from these 3 people, I also admire Fredric Liljeström, who is a former Swedish national team member who only started OW recently, but consistently winning races despite his age. He is now nearly 50 and he can still beat the national team members in Hong Kong in their teens. He has moved to Kuala Lumpur now and winning South-East Asia marathon swimming races such as the 16 km Perhentian Island race.

    P.S. I'm not going to do really long events in silly cold water - I currently prefer events which are a few hours long (e.g. between 4 - 10 hours) in water which is not that cold (about 16 - 22°C).

Sign In or Register to comment.