Fear, why is it that fear plays such a big role in our lives? Fear is an emotion I still dont quite know how to comprehend. Many of us allow fear to determine our limitations, our thoughts, our actions and ultimately our lives. Many of us experience fear in different forms and it affects us in many different ways. What fears do you have?
When I look back at the fears I had growing up, or even fears I had a year ago, many of them don’t influence me anymore.
I used to be afraid of cold water swimming. I was always told that due to my build and physique that I wouldn’t survive very long in cold water and that I wouldn’t be able to swim the Freedom swim (7.5km from Robben Island to Blouberg.) Last year I persuaded my wife to let me enter and I knew that if I didnt try it, I would never know what I was capable of. I entered and before I knew it race day arrived, I was scared of hypothermia and the fear had me in its grasp. The race was postponed to the following day due to extreme weather conditions. This allowed another full day of anticipation. The following day arrived and conditions were still bad, they adjusted the route and had us swim a 9.3km route consisting of 4 laps at Blouberg beach. The water temperature had dropped and was 10°c, this was even more scary as it was a lot colder than what I had anticipated. I swam and finished the 9.3km swim, which in my opinion was probably harder and more extreme than what a normal Robben Island crossing would have been.
After completing the Freedom Swim, I heard about a new challenge called Ice Swimming: a One Mile swim in water below 5°c, with nothing more than a swimming brief, cap and goggles allowed. Off to Frazerburg in the Northern Cape I went, I was adament to prove everyone wrong, especially all those people who told me I couldn’t survive in Cold Water.
I can and I did survive the extreme cold. I am now one of only 19 swimmers in the World to be a member of the elite International Ice Swimming Association because of it. On top of it all, I have the fastest ever recorded Ice Mile Swim under my belt, 22min30s. I received some great mind training from Tom, Headstart Sport which helped me focus on my fears and overcome them. Don’t be fooled by what people tell you, whatever you put your mind to, you can do! If you tell yourself something enough, eventually you will believe it. Find motivation from that fear and push yourself to go beyond what you thought possible.
By facing your fears you often put yourself at risk of failure, but the reward of facing up to those fears cannot be replicated. The joy of overcoming a great obstacle or fear is overwhelming. Go out there and smash your fears, don’t be scared to, don’t let it dictate who you are…
Create new boundaries, be alive, it makes life exciting!