I recently had the opportunity to meet the legendary open-water swimmer, Lynne Cox. She began setting distance records at the age of 14 when she crossed the Catalina Channel. At the age of 15, she crossed the English Channel. And ever since, she has tackled the most unbelievable bodies of water. Places such as the Strait of Magellan, the Nile, the Cape of Good Hope, the Bering Strait, and Antarctica.
I highly recommend you read all about her amazing adventures in her best-selling book “Swimming to Antarctica.”
So last week, when she reached another milestone, the age of 50, she was forced to take on another challenge. A pile of the most degrading “over-the-hill” cards and gifts found anywhere. Our friend Sandy gave me strict instructions to make it insulting. I protested, “But I barely know her and I have so much respect for her!”
I ended up making her a card. Something sentimental? No, it was insulting. I thought of all the tests she went through for her cold-water excursions at UC Santa Barbara. I looked for the longest, scariest looking thermometer I could find at a pet store of all places. I put a headline on a box that said, “Lynne, now that your 50, you’re going to have to take a test.” On the inside, was a cartoon of a penguin in a lab coat, holding a controller with a wire, saying, “Don’t worry this wont hurt a bit.” He was surrounded by other giggling penguins. Another penguin said, “You’re not getting older. You’re getting colder.” The big, scary thermometer was attached to some ugly looking wire. Yup, it’s the thought that counts. Props go to my friend T. for his cartoon illustrations.
Being a true class act in every sense, Lynne took all her ribbing in stride. And gave it right back to me when she found out I was a new swimmer, “Is she a tadpole or a minnow?” Sandy laughed, “She’s a tadpole.”
The next day I had a breakthrough in my swim lesson. Suddenly, everything was more fluid and faster. Even my swim coach, Beth Hibbard, looked a little surprised.
Could it be that it was because I was surrounded by some of the best swimmers I know for one special evening? Here we are pictured from left to right, Me, Sandy’s daughter Nikki, Lynne Cox, and Sandy Field. I’d sure like to think so.