Friday, August 27, 2010

Swimming the mighty Mississippi River...

All of us at PHA have been following PH patient Lil Long's preparations to swim the Mississippi River in memory of her friend Nicky Roberts and to build PH awareness.  The story is compelling.

Today, we got great news from Actelion that they will provide PHA with a film crew to cover the September 11 event, presenting the magnitude of the achievement and help us also use it as a platform to create a video that will offer a platform to talk about PH and exercise.  The film crew will be Glenn and Glenn Productions, the folks who did such a great job procucing our 2010 Conference Video.

Jess McKearin, who leads our special Events team, sent me a passage from Lil's journal in which she talks about her recent test swim.  I think it's well worth reading.

It broke my goggles; it tore my snorkel away from my mouth. My nose clip nearly drowned me because I couldn’t get enough air. In other words everything I thought had prepared me for over a year was useless. My heart was pounding I guess as hard a heart can pound. I swam in circles for fifteen minutes from being so disoriented I didn’t know up from down. That current is a powerful force to be reckoned with.

When I finally figured out what all I was doing wrong, I grabbed the boat (I was swimming with no life jacket or tether) and had to rethink everything I had learned.

First of all, you CANNOT keep your head under water and swim the river, thus the disorientation. Second, you have to spend money on a very good pair of goggles. You cannot do completely without them because my left eye where my goggles broke is almost swollen shut with sand! Third, keep your eyes on the prize, the other side! Fourth, if you ever get a little over halfway across, the current starts to help you instead of hinder you. It will begin to push toward the other side. And, most of all, fifth, stay calm! It’s hard to breathe when your heart in beating 90 miles an hour!

When I figured all of this out, I finally started getting somewhere. If I hadn’t spent that time going in circles, I probably could have made it three fourths across a very swollen river.

Next time I’ll be calmer. It didn’t help any that right before I went in the water the Cap’m and a media guest saw a four foot alligator gar! I really did NOT want to hear that.

When I got to the middle, I paused to look around. I absolutely could not believe that I was in the middle of that great river of ours. It gave me hope and I felt Nicky all around me. I was completely awestruck.

To see Lil speak about her test swim, click here.

She's been building  a lot of awareness through TV (the clip below talks about a swim date earlier than what is now a September 11 planned date)...

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