I first met Nadine when she was re-training to be a teacher. She then went on to be my son’s form tutor and one day he came home and said Ms Bowker hadn’t been in because she was swimming the channel.
Anyone that has ever done teacher training knows how tough it is and Nadine was in her first year of teaching (her NQT year) when she did the swim. I was overawed, not least because when I picked son up from his end of term trip, there she was, the day after her mamouth achievment, counting heads off the school trip bus as if she hadn’t just swum for 12 hours, through the night, to France.
So how did she do it? I couldn’t wait to find out. I love swimming and the silent, meditative, quality is has, and it is one of the things I have really missed during lockdowns. I wild swim a tiny bit; a new year’s dip now and then, for minutes in the icy sea and then the occassional 15-30 minute swim in a river, but not 12 hours! In the cold, dark, deep, busy channel.
Counting to 100 over and over again, having a brother and sister stoic enough to swim with you and then shout at you just when you feel you can’t go on, and training in Lake Windemere are all part of the ‘how’. What really struck me as we talked was the importance of the support. You literally can not swim the channel without a support boat and crew.
And isn’t that a reminder for life?
Yes it was down to Nadine’s physical training and stamina, her mental fortitude and resilience, that she succeeded and made it back to register my son the next day. But she didn’t do it alone. She had trainers, supporters, family, fishermen and friends who did everything from pass her jelly babies to challenge her to go just a bit longer, a bit wilder, a bit stronger in the build up to the swim.
So often we feel like if we are going to achieve something, it needs to be all on our own.
We all need a support crew, back up and people cheering us on.
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