For Lynne Cox, a champion long distance open water swimmer, practice and positivity go hand in hand.
If you’re unfamiliar with Lynne and her triumphs, here are just a few of her records:
- In 1972 at age 15 Lynne swam across the English Channel and shattered the men’s and women’s world records with a time of 9 hours and 57 minutes.
- In 1975 Lynne became the first woman to swim across Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Her time was 12 hour and 2 1/2 minutes.
- In 1976 Lynne became the first person to swim across the 42 degree F waters of the Strait of Magellan with a time of 1 hour 2 minutes.
- In 1985 Lynne swam “Around the World in 80 Days” by swimming 12 extremely challenging waterways some that had never been attempted.
- In 1987 Lynne became the first person to swim across the Bering Strait as a way to open the US-Soviet Border for the first time in 48 years with a time of 2 hours and 6 minutes.
- In 1994 Lynne swam through the Gulf of Aqaba from Egypt to Israel and from Israel to Jordan tracing the progress of peace between the three countries.
- In 2002 Lynne became the first person to complete a 1.2 miles in Antarctica, from the ship the Orlova to Neko Harbor in a time of 25 minutes. (All facts from Lynne Cox’s website)
Not bad right? Would you believe me if I said Lynne was inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame? She is.
Lynne’s journey in the water began at the age of 9, when she was coached by Harvard University coach, Ben Muritt. By age 12, she was working with 4 time US Olympic trainer Don Gambril.
Imagine yourself swimming laps early in the morning, back and forth between pier points. The sun is not up yet. You are alone in this day where the black sky blends into the dark waters. Suddenly, hundreds upon hundreds of anchovies are swimming past you! And behind them are grunion. Slippery, iridescent fish are moving so fast, that one grunion ends up in your mouth!
After the grunion, you become swarmed by large, 40 pound tuna, bouncing out of the water, all chomping for their next meal. That’s when you realize, you’re in a food chain cycle.
Below you, the current is weighted. You can tell something is beneath you. Something big. It’s following your path. As you continue to stroke forward, you peer behind you with each breath checking for dorsal fins. Is it a shark? Panic in every fiber of your body tells you to leave the water, but the fighter inside you says stay. Stay and finish your workout. This situation is real and you will face it again on another swim, you have to prepare yourself. Stay.
You can see a friend on shore waving their arms at you. He comes running down and he tells you, “It’s a whale!”
That is the beginning of the story of Grayson, a four month old baby gray whale and how Lynne meets him while she is practicing in the ocean. What follows is an epic journey that lasted hours where the two new friends go in search of Grayson’s mother, without whom he will not survive.
You will not believe what they go through, and yet through it all, Lynne is a consistent reminder of the power of positivity in our thoughts. There are times where her body becomes weak, where she loses Grayson, where she wonders if his mother is dead. But Lynne will defy it all and remain assertive. She will remind you that there is no task too big if you break it down and go piece by piece. She will remind you that the hardest and most difficult trials of our lives are best made with decisions of heart instead of head. And she will do all of this with such imagery as you can barely imagine.
For this midwest girl, the Mississippi River is the closest thing I have to open water. I have been to both oceans surrounding our country, but I have never had the delights and trepidations that Lynne describes while encountering dolphins and jellyfish. It has been a few months since I read this book, it was at the end of summer. I just went to my library’s book discussion on it and it reminded me that I while I was reading this book, I was sitting on a patio chair outside with my feet up on the seat because reading about the food chain cycle around her was terrifying! I also shared bits of the book aloud with my boyfriend because the descriptions are so rich and magical. Lynne Cox does something only a handful of us can do, but she invites us along in her writing with beauty and awe.
If any of you are looking for a great Christmas present idea, I highly recommend Lynne’s book. She intended it for an adult audience, but teens all over have grasped at this inspiring story and found hope in its pages. It’s a book that with a message that will make you go, “Ok Lynne, I know you’re talking to me!” and anyone can appreciate it.
Go get this book!
For more information about Lynne, her world records, her speaking engagements, her other books, and even her blog, check out her website www.lynnecox.org.
What do you think? Can you imagine swimming in the ocean with a baby whale? What experiences have you had growing up where positive thinking played a crucial role in helping you face an overwhelming situation?