It was a whirlwind of a week supporting my husband, Rob, as he swam the 256 km length of the Clutha River, from Wanaka to the mouth of the river, here in New Zealand.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I volunteered to be his support crew. I thought it would involve a lot more reading books in my camping chair and sipping lattes as I passed through quirky towns.
However, it instead involved a lot of meal preparation, shopping, driving, searching for vantage points to take footage and scouting exit and entry points.
I was joined for much of one day by a crew from a national news station, 1 news, for a segment they did in the sports section of the six o’clock news and spent another morning with a journalist who wrote a piece that made it to the front page of the regional newspaper, the Otago Daily Times. I love the title of this one: Lengthy swim earns large pizza.
Rob was a little lost for words at the end of the swim, and when asked what he wanted to do now, he answered: eat the biggest pizza possible. It took a while, but his wish was eventually granted.
Surprisingly, Rob didn’t eat as much as you’d expect at mealtimes given he was downing energy gels, bars and bananas on the water, and had to ensure that what he ate for meals would feel good in his stomach while he swam. However, with the swim over, he was ready to eat what his heart desired and what he knew his body could handle.
It was an incredible effort and phenomenal to witness him undertake this epic swim.
It was inspiring to watch him do what he loves—being in the water.
Generally, he came out of the water each day overjoyed with the experience—the feeling of moving through water and taking in the beautiful surroundings. He’d wake the next morning refreshed and excited to get in the water and do it all over again.
No attachment to the end goal
However, he did so without contemplating whether he’d reach his end goal of swimming all the way to the rivers mouth.
It was unknown whether he would be able to complete it due to things completely out of our control—weather conditions could have changed, he could have experienced an injury, we could have had a glitch with logistics. However, it went surprisingly smoothly, and he felt incredibly humbled to have finished it.
Pursuit of joy, not goals
Rob's approach to swimming, and all his physical endeavours, has changed over the years we've been together. He has let go of the must-train and must-achieve mentality, and now focuses on what brings him joy and what his body and soul are moved to do each day.
"I do this out of joy"—is what my husband was quoted as saying in an article: Corner Brook, NL native Rob Hutchings attempting to swim 338-kilometre river in New Zealand.
In this swim, he was able to stay present in the moment (most of the time) and focus on enjoying it stroke-by-stroke.
He undertook this swim as a personal challenge and aspires to encourage others to pursue their passions no matter how good they are at it. He believes that you don’t need to be the best to give something a go.
You don’t need to be the best to give something a go.
We’ve been led to believe that we shouldn’t pursue our passions if we can’t be ‘good’ or the best. We fear that it is pointless or that we will be judged for looking silly or pathetic when we ‘aren’t good enough’.
However, we are good enough. Whether we win or fail to finish, if something brings us joy, it’s worth doing. That’s a motto my husband and I share.
Whether you win or fail to finish, if something brings you joy, it’s worth doing.
Note: Some of the media states that Rob was attempting to swim 338km. He only ever intended to swim from Lake Wanaka to the river mouth and hadn't realised before starting the swim that the 338km measurement included Lake Wanaka and the river above Lake Wanaka, the Makarora River. Either way, it was a mammoth effort!