Passion, Persistence, Purpose

I have just returned from a very productive trip in Hong Kong. As you all know, I was facing the Clean Half Extreme Marathon Swim – or Continent #6, as part of my global quest, on Oct 6.

We landed on the same Saturday morning, after a 16-hour direct flight from New York (yes, in economy class), left the luggage at the hotel and headed to Stanley Main Beach, in the South of the Island, to attend the race briefing. The typhoon that lashed Hong Kong two weeks prior to that was still very visible, and it was a shame to see the damage that it had caused onshore. The water was better than expected though, and during the swim, I barely came across any debris – or jellyfish, yay!

This was a very special race to me – I acquired my love for open water swimming in Hong Kong in 2011 and completed the Clean Half in 2012 as my first ever Marathon (10K+) swim. This year I have surely trained the distance, so I wasn’t too concerned about the 15K course, but I just wanted to break my 4h12’ PB. I was lucky to have two great adventurers and sportsmen, Paul and Yves, kayaking for me, and Johana would be on a boat following us, as usual. 

The start is always a bit confusing, as the relays are mixed with the soloists, and you never really know what position you are in. But once I found my pace (and my kayakers!), and reached the first turn in To Tei Wan, I just focused on enjoying the swim. That and not dying out of the heat. Waters were at around 27C, which felt a bit too balmy for me. After passing the HK Satellite Earth Station and Round Island, and towards hour #2.5 of the swim, I started feeling the tiredness and lack of sleep, but Middle Island was on sight, so it was hard to give up. I had a little bit more of Pocari (God, I’ve missed Pocari), and kept going until I jumped into the shark-net safe-zone, and touched the sand with my hand in Deepwater Bay. Done ✅

Satellites turning point

Celebrations were in order, as I had completed the swim in 3h42’, i.e. half an hour faster than in 2012, and ranked first among the solos. More importantly, the organizer of the race is the founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance, the non-profit that I fundraise for (donate here!), so the swim and efforts are all focused on the good cause that is fighting against plastic pollution in the Ocean. Can you relate to it?

In fact, the following week we had back to back events at various financial institutions to keep increasing the awareness on such an important and global issue – that other known swimmers like Lewis Pugh and Ben Lecomte are covering, too. We generated a lot of debate and engagement, and concluded that (i) we need the support from Governments and especially from big plastic producers (Coca-Cola, Starbucks, McDonalds, ahem) to tackle the problem, and (ii) if we make it work in Hong Kong, we should be able to make it work anywhere else. Let’s try and save the Ocean before it is too late. 

The talks were useful to spread my personal message, too. For the past 6 years, and especially during 2017 and 2018, swimming has helped me a lot, to be more disciplined, focused and efficient. I have found my Passion and my Purpose, and I have been Persistent to pursue them. And I believe these 3 Ps give meaning to a lot of things in life: Passion, Persistence and Purpose. What are yours?

More clothes than I am used to

I will leave that thought there, and head for an ice bath as I keep preparing Continents #7 – Antarctica ❄

Happy Swimming!