So much more than just a swim

I’ve always loved pushing my physical limits.

There was a time, before my injury and the compromised state of my entire neurological system, when working towards a physical accomplishment like a marathon or a multiple day trek through the mountains was a significant accomplishment on its own. Now, with the daily challenges that come with life in a completely different body, it would seem logical that merely dealing with these challenges would be enough, that taking on anything beyond those day to day struggles would seem unreasonable.

I have to deal with how my body functions in its present state, even as I continue to recover function and to work towards my ultimate goal of getting back on my feet. But challenging that present state and pushing myself way past what I thought was possible is inevitable. It’s a part of my personality. I can’t suppress it and just because I’m dealing with a compromised body doesn’t mean that I’ve lost the desire to figure out where my limits are, and challenge myself further. I just can’t help myself…

Tomorrow, I take on the biggest single day physical challenge of my life. I will swim five miles around Donner Lake, at an altitude of 6000 feet, surrounded by the mountains that I’ve known, explored, cherished and loved for my entire life. Three years ago, I was too weak to get my head out of the water to breathe and could only use a snorkel to swim for a few minutes. Two years ago, I was able to swim in the pool, but I would have to take a break after every 50 meter lap and catch my breath. A year ago, I worked my way up to a 2.4 mile open water swim in a lake. And now, this…

At each of those moments, the thought of achieving the next accomplishment seemed nearly impossible. But my love of being in the water fueled me forward and my insatiable desire to prove that no one would set my limits for me but myself kept me motivated and committed to keep working towards my objective.

So after months and months of training, countless trips to the pool following my already intensive rehab schedule, innumerable occasions where I visualized how this would all go down, here I am, ready to take this on. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little nervous, because I am, but more than anything I’m excited.

I know that swimming around a lake is not the same thing as walking independently, but I also know that being able to tackle and achieve this smaller goal gives me the confidence to continue working so hard towards my ultimate goal.

Donner Lake: I’m thrilled to see you tomorrow.


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23 thoughts on “So much more than just a swim

  1. Good luck Arash. I’ll be thinking of you as I do my measly 1 mile swim in the pool. You really are an inspiration. I’ve just started open water swimming off our houseboat (but lack a wetsuit to attempt a colder and longer swim).

  2. Sounds amazing Arash, I hope you have a great time in the water and then during the feast that I’m sure will follow!

  3. Arash. We have talked in the past, via your blog. I am an Athletic Trainer and Stroke Rehab/Recovery Therapist in Canada. Hopefully many folks in the SCI industry have been following and will take away much insight from your journey. I want to point out to you that I use the words “level” to my clients and athletes not “limit”.
    “The power of belief and the expectation of continued progress and success cannot be dismissed and of that you are in charge” Vince Nash

    1. Wonderful quote! I like that you’re taking a positive approach to the language you use with your clients. We need more of that kind of attitude out there. Thanks for still reading -AB

  4. Go Arash. That is such an amazing swim and accomplishment.


    This email is sent from my iPhone. Please excuse any typos.


  5. Enjoy the swim!…..I liked the comment above on the use of the term level vs limit. Go stretch yourself to reach that next level tomorrow, there are no limits. Just drop a buoy where your body decides to stop, you’ll pass it the next time. Carey & Perry will be cheering you on!

  6. Arash, you are just incredible! I am pumped for you and can’t wait to hear how your swim goes! I know other people like you….and by that, I don’t mean with a disability, but people who are equally insatiable to reach their goals and to let nothing stop them…..some people just seem to be born that way, fewer seem to be able to become one of those people….I wish I could be like those people…and like you!! You are a massive inspiration. Blessings.

  7. I know we, your followers, think you’re amazing, but when you reflect on how far you’ve come since that first day after the SPI, it almost seems like a miracle. Sometimes we forget the kind of mental strength it takes to keep on plugging away and pushing yourself to your limits (and beyond).

    Well done you (for even attempting this long Lake swim).

    Succeed or fail is irrelevant. The important thing is to keep on keeping on.

  8. […] Justin: Arash and I have a lot in common in the fact that we are both very active and athletic people. Many of my friends are the same. The reality is, what happened to Arash could have happened to any of us in the right circumstance. Often when talking about Arash, though we will never be able to relate to what Arash is going through, many of my friends want to know how he has made the adjustment from being outdoorsy and athletic to having a spinal cord injury. The answer is Arash is still outdoorsy and athletic (this is because of his amazing attitude and determination for recovery). He called me just the other day to ask me to do a triathlon with him. So those types of scratching-the-surface type questions are easy to answer. Like, how does Arash swim? How does Arash swim five miles?! […]

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