Updated: Oct 14, 2022
When you are recovering from a stroke, you need patience. As the old saying goes, life is a marathon, not a sprint. The same is true with stroke recovery. To rebuild muscles, it takes time. To reconnect nerve pathways, it takes perseverance. Slowly but surely, through weeks and months of rehabilitation, you rebuild your body, regain your strength.
That same patience and perseverance is what I recently took into my Potomac River marathon swim. Normally, an Olympic "marathon swim" is a 6.2 mile event. However, to commemorate the victims of 9/11, I partnered with my teammate John Devost to swim 20.5 miles down the Potomac River. That's 10 1/4 miles for each of us. We started north of Georgetown, DC and ended up just south of Mount Vernon, Virginia. Can I admit it was a long day? It was painful. There were times when I fantasized about quitting. But John and I persevered. In fact, we completed the swim marathon on a new 2-person record of 7 hours, 3 minutes.
Did you know that victims of 9/11 continue to suffer from ongoing trauma resulting from the experiences of that terrible day? In fact, a 2018 study determined that for 9/11 survivors, incidence of stroke was higher among those with PTSD or intense dust cloud exposure, and it was even higher for those who had experienced both. (Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29851739/)
I did my swim marathon for those 9/11 stroke survivors, and for all stroke survivors. I did it to help show the need for a goal, a vision, a positive expectation despite the challenges of the journey.
Thank you to the amazing people at Swimming World Magazine who covered our 9/11 commemorative swim marathon. https://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/9-11-tribute-potomac-river-swim-to-honor-veterans-encourage-open-water-events/