|Freedom Swim 2016
by Muhammad Alli Naroth
The most important thing is life is to stop saying “I wish” and start saying “I will”. Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities-
Charles Dickens (David Copperfield)
So my key motivation for registering for the swim was the date on which it takes place - my late mother’s birthday. Having been in the water for 2 hours by the time I hit the 2.5 km mark and then being confronted by red jelly fish, I was forced to break with my tradition of breaststroke and break into a fast crawl to exit the patch of jelly fish which had stung me in uncomfortable places, my face, chest, legs and arms. My second said he will make sure that if I do this swim again he will order jelly fish as he had not seen me swim this fast EVER! A stroke usually reserved for the dolphins when they come to play in Camps Bay.
Anyway, by the time I reached 7.5 km I was no closer to the end than I was to the start. Wordsworth resonated with me: so might I [stand] on [a] pleasant lea
(The World is too much with us). As this journey unfolded a drowsy numbness pain[ed] my sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk
(Keats). Out of nowhere, a mermaid appeared at exactly the right time. My strokes were measured and powerful as she led me closer to my destination. Unfortunately she disappeared after 30 minutes egging me on from the discomfort of the boat (up and down, up and down, up and down- watch the horizon).
As I plodded my way to Big Bay we soon realized that I was well off course. I did some brisk breaststroke bobbing thinking it would move me from my position as I fought a strongish current and tired limbs to attempt to reach my destination when it struck me …[I] am out of tune; It moves [me] not (Wordsworth).
Fortunately my second and the skipper realized that my efforts were futile however my resolve was to get to the end no matter what….the look of “oh goodness, what time will we get home?” by my support prompted the occupants to call the organizers and along came Ram Barkai asking a single question- do you want to get out or do you want to finish? I remembered why I was doing this and an emphatic “I want to finish” blurted out before I could think about it….jellyfish burns and all.
By this time I was getting quite tired, according to my second I had reached 9km already. Eish second thoughts or second skins- wasn’t sure what would have been better at that stage of my journey. I was in the water for 4 hours already. As we made our way to the “flats over there” my second had jumped in with Ram and they led me to an exit. Ram and Arafat were unforgiving- I have heard mer[men] singing, each to each- I do not think that they will sing to me (T.S. Eliot)
- I had to simply swim CRAWL! I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
and tried to keep up with their very well drilled freestyle and I remember at one stage as the waves were breaking over me I told them to keep quiet….”I AM TIRED” The look of disbelief that overcame both their faces- wish I had a camera. Well the drama did not end there.
Suddenly in front of us a crop of rocks appeared out of nowhere as if placed in our path to test my resolve one final time. TS Eliot came to mind; Here is no water but only rock, Rock and no water and the sandy [beach]….Amoungst the rock one cannot stop or think
and we were unceremoniously dumped over the rocks on the sand with Ram and Arafat sustaining minor injury and me unscathed.
So how would I describe the experience? I will end as I started with Charles Dickens:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was [an act] of wisdom, it was [an act] of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had [Big Bay] before us, we [saw] nothing before us, we were going direct to [Doodles], we were [not] going the other way (to Big Bay)…
If you asked me in one word what the experience was like: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
Super thank you to the organizers and special thanks to my A team:
Shaun, Kyla and Arafat
(and the guy whose crown I saw most of the way- unfortunately he fed fish most of the way)!