When I talk about ocean swimming to my non-swimming friends, especially if I’m trying to convince them to give it a try, most people’s reactions are pretty similar. Along the lines of “I couldn’t do that”, “I’m not a strong swimmer”, or “I’d be too scared”. That and concern about sharks, but that’s probably a whole post all on its own.

I have one story I like to tell about a woman I’ll call Natalie. That’s her name, after all.

The first day I turned up to training for Can Too I was a touch nervous. We all went around and told the group why we were there and what we wanted to get out of the experience.

I had my own story, but one definitely stood out. A lady named Natalie was there for two reasons. Her mother had terminal cancer and she wanted to do her bit for cancer research. Also, Natalie was English and had never learned to swim as a child. Natalie wanted to do the hardest thing she could think of to show her sponsors how serious she was about wanting to fundraise.

And Natalie had certainly chosen a challenge! That first pool session Natalie struggled so much the coach took her off to the kiddies pool to have some one-on-one coaching. It can’t have been easy being that far outside her comfort zone.

Natalie stuck with it, though, she turned up to training and worked hard and started to make progress. And then the worst happened. her mother in the UK started going really downhill and Natalie had to fly back in the middle of the program. She was gone a couple of weeks, trying to find the odd open swimming pool in the UK in the middle of winter, until her mother’s hard and sad journey ended.

When things were settled, Natalie returned to Sydney and came back to training. With persistence and hard work and a good attitude, Natalie competed in the 1km Cole Classic and successfully swam in her goal event that year.

And not only that. She signed up again for a second year and did the 2km event! And she’s done a stack of other swims and events and still swims regularly. She was a member of our MS Megaswim team, and has said she’s signing up this year for Can Too again, to do the demanding Palm Beach to Whale beach 2.8km swim!

In short: she’s amazing.

After the Megaswim, I sent out thankyous to all of the team members. They earned them. In Natalie’s I mentioned that she was one of my inspirations. I thought her response was so sweet I wanted to share it. Natalie responded by saying

“…I also really appreciate your very kind words about me – I’m not sure I really do anything that is inspirational, I just refuse to give up or give in – hopefully that won’t cause me to drown one day!! Meeting an amazing group of people including you has been the highlight of the whole CanToo experience for me, having so much support really makes a difference – so thank you to you!

See you in a pool soon 🙂
Nat xx”

Love it. I wish there were more people in the world who just refused to give up or give in.