The Dart10km Swim: My Return

I don’t even know where to begin, so I think I will start at the end.

On Sunday I did the Dart 10km swim. What started as a Facebook message from Heather back on a cold grey January day ended yesterday with me in complete disbelief. I SWAM 10KM.


The past few months have been so rough for me. Unbelievably rough. When I tell people some of the stories about what was happened since our dad died in July – what my sister and I have survived – it has not been uncommon to hear “this is worse than the stuff they show on those awful Lifetime channel tv movies!” It has been one giant emotional hell which manifested itself in a not-so-ideal training spell – particularly with my build up to this swim. I felt seriously unprepared.

I was scared. Not so much for the physical act of swimming. I figured I could manage to pull myself through, to finish the swim – as it would only be about 45 minutes longer than my longest time in water in 2015. I figured I could physically handle that.

I was not scared of swimming, but I WAS scared of the cold. It is like when the calendar changed to September all of the sudden autumn had descended, with summer a very distant memory. We had nothing but clouds and grey – no sun to warm up the river. The water temperature dropped below 14C (58F) which was the coldest I had experienced all summer. I react VERY BADLY to cold as it is one of the triggers for the calf cramps I suffer as a part of my nerve disease. I knew I would be in the water for a long time, in water temperatures much colder than what I had prepared for…

Did I say it already? I was scared.

I took a long hard look at my fitness, my mental state, and the conditions and I decided that this swim was going to be one for COMPLETING. For surviving.

And I decided it was time. Time to get back into the water. Time to RETURN to doing what I loved.

I had enough of the bad, the truly awful. I spent the end of summer feeling like I was putting myself back together again. I felt ready to let myself return to doing what I loved. Ready to reclaim my spirit after all the torment and sadness. Ready to go forward, one stroke at a time, focusing on the present and the good, leaving the past and the bad behind in my wake.

It was time to return. Time to follow through with my whims and achieve my January dreams.


There are so many things I could say about this swim. So many thanks. To the Outdoor Swimming Society for putting on such a fantastic experience. To Jen, who I met at the start, who gave me a hug and told me to swim for my dad and it would all be ok (you were right Jen, it was!). To Queenie, one of the volunteers who went so far as to offer me a place to sleep the night before to give me the best chance of finishing. To Heather, the instigator of this particular crazy who met me at the finish line with hugs and smiles and chocolate fudge. To my coaches who have set me hard sets and challenges, and as I survived each one I built the courage and confidence – and the mental and physical tools – to face big endurance challenges like this one. And to my husband, who believed in me even when my own self belief was faltering.

But ultimately, I need to thank myself.

I was ABLE to ask so much from my body, to be kind enough to myself to get myself through this very tough physical and mental challenge. With all the crap that happened, with all the angst that is still happening. I survived. Now I *know* that I can handle a lot more than I think I can – mentally and physically.


Sometimes you do need to do what scares you, if only to get you remember who your true self is.

My first 10k swim, in memory of my dad, who passed to me his lifelong love of the water. Thank you dad for helping to shape me into the person I am today. #thisbodycan

4 responses to “The Dart10km Swim: My Return”

    • Thanks Brian! It was nice to feel a sense of success and achievement after such a painful summer… Hopefully it is the first step in getting back to feeling more like me again, to rediscovering my sense of purpose and motivation after feeling really lost and low in July and August 🙂

  1. Donna, you are a brilliant star in my life! That said, I have no intention of EVER swimming in 58 water good heavens, but I’m super impressed by and proud of you for getting out there and earning your chocolate fudge at the finish line! You are phenomenal.

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