Later still, living in the Colombian Amazon, swimming became a wild and wonderful pastime. Swimming in rivers rather than swimming pools and jumping out of overhanging trees into the swirling currents. Bathing in rivers and creeks at the end of a long day in the forest carrying out field work became the norm.
So my memories of swimming are nothing but good; until I started training for this sponsored challenge.
Don't get me wrong, nothing terrible has happened to me during training, it's just a lot harder than I thought. Not the distance, so much. I know it's going to be a tough slog to complete the 400 lengths of the pool that I have committed to but I am not too worried about that. I have a couple more months to train and am well on my way to being able to go the distance physically. The hardest thing is the tedium. All my other great swimming memories were fun. They were full of games and laughter and learning new skills. This is just, well, boring.
Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. Ad infinitum (or so it feels).
I am currently getting up at 5am to get an hour in before I come to work and then doing as many "long swims" (currently up to 3 hours) each week as I can. It is an increasing psychological struggle to get myself motivated.
Well "boo hoo," I hear you cry! "Sponsored challenges are supposed to be tough. They're not supposed to be a walk in the park. So what if it's boring?! It's for a good cause!"
I agree. The reason I am raising this point is not for sympathy, but because this experience has, quite unexpectedly, brought me closer to the reason I am doing the swim in the first place.
If I am struggling to get in the mindset of spending three or four hours on a Sunday morning in training, then what on earth must the mental state of the whales that we are doing it for be like? They are not confined to swimming their laps for just a few hours before they head off and get on with their day - for them a swimming pool is their entire world.
JunJun is one of the whales held captive by Merlin Entertainments and performs in three-times-daily shows for screaming crowds. She has reportedly been at the aquarium in Shanghai for just over 11 years. That's 97,359 hours in a swimming pool. Just think about that for a second.