I only slept a few hours, but they were enough. I had rested, and I was full of energy. When I woke up, I stood up quickly and peered through the window in my room, looking for dawn and waiting for that first ray of the sun to light up my eyes. When they had filled with light, I closed them. I was grateful. I was grateful for life, for the new day and for what it would bring along with it; for the beginning of the last step of my English Channel adventure; and, above all, I was grateful for the love that had filled my heart and had walked me through the adventure.
I tried to stay calm. I didn’t want to catch the nervousness and tension in the air. We arrived at the Dover Marina to board the boat while I still had the taste of orange jam in my mouth. In the middle of the going back and forth and of the preparations, I kissed my mother goodbye on the dock and told her: “I’m going to enjoy it all the way. Dad will be keeping me company during my entire swim.” Two tears ran down my mom’s cheeks. I hugged her and said: “This is no time to be sad. Enjoy it the way he would have enjoyed it. Thank you for your love and for being my mom!”
With all my love, I hugged my children tightly and told them: “I am very lucky to have you here by my side. You are my engine. This swim is for both of you guys. Your fuel fills my tank and makes me strong. Your love and your strength will enable me to go all the way.” The three of us hugged, and, after we hugged, Andrea said: “Mom, I’m not sure what it is you’re going to do out there, but you pull this one off and finish, okay?” It seemed more like a command than a good wish. Andrea, my 10-year-old daughter, was ordering me to finish my swim because, in her mind, that was the only way for her to share in it and be a part of it. In hindsight, I believe she was able to see the big picture better than I was. Many hours later, in the middle of the sea, I would remember her words. At that time, she made fun of it and burst into contagious laughter. I boarded the boat happy and in good spirits. Eduardo and my technical staff were already there, as well as Mike, two extra crew-members and the observer.
My great swim was about to start….