English Version

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A magical secret… Becoming part of a team! Watermark!

junio 26, 2013

A magical secret!

A few years ago, a group of friends decided to form a team to accomplish a crossing of the English Channel in relay. When the idea came up we were all excited and decided we should give it a try. After a few sessions in which we started planning what would become the swim and how would we carry out the project, we concluded it was ready: “everything is ready! Let’s get to work!”

A few days later we gathered to start training and we realized we were wrong, and as it happens when someone realizes their mistake, we had to start all over again, but this time, we did it as a team, not the way we did it before, as a group of swimming friends, and let me tell you something, it was very hard and we all had to learn that in order to work as a team, first you have to become a team.

The concept of TEAM is a concept that we are familiar with and are able to handle in different stages of our lives since we are kids, but when we really live it, we find out we do not really know how to be a part of a team or how to work as a team and the least of all, how to accomplish a goal as a team, however, I always thought that at least I was sure I had a very clear understanding of what being part of a team was. I have always being a fast speaker; and I remember that in one of the meetings I said: Of course, lets become a team, it is so easy! A few days later, I had to eat my own words.

It was not easy at all, but it was a learning period, that at least for me, has had so much meaning in my life and today I am convinced that a team is much more than just the sum of several people and their will, it is a different being, created by the enthusiasm, will, work, effort, patience, tolerance, respect and the cordiality of the people that form part of the team. I learned that it is the Team as a whole the one that pursuits and look forward to accomplish a goal. It is better to leave out of the teams every little thing the members of the team have that is not useful for the team  and only to bring in what is valuable to give the team strength and growth.


I also learned that a team without a leader is not a team at all, even when inside the team you can find people with the same or more experience or preparation than the leader, the guidance of the team is the responsibility of the leader of the team and to him or her  everyone else owes authority and respect.

Another thing, the team gets stronger with is weaknesses. That’s the way I see it; not all of the members of the team have the same preparation or strength, however, it is precisely in some of the member’s weakness where the strength of the others makes the team consolidate but at the same time in this weakness is where the ability of becoming a team is tested.

In the end, after more than 9 months of learning we finally putted it all into a test in a 4 Way Crossing Relay of the English Channel in 2007 that was accomplished successfully by Sport City Mexico Team, which was integrated by Mayalen Noriega, Alejandro Moreno, Omar Díaz-González, Jorge Urreta and me. Our Leader, Coach Rodolfo Aznar and Dr. Alexander Kormanovsky.

Not only we became an incredible team but we also accomplished an extraordinary sport event that represented a very important mark to the Sport City Mexico Team and therefore it represents a watermark in my life.

The magic secret is to know how to be part of a team and today I use this secret in many aspects of my life. As a matter of fact, starting from this learning point, I accomplished my solo open water swims, as part of a wonderful team. My main support team is my family, my technical team (coach, doctor and pacer) has being my strength and along with the Alfredo Harp Helu, AC, Grupo Marti and the BRIMEX Clinic we have transformed the life of many children through Quiero Sonreir.

Being a team is the magic secret!





The Magic of Water

junio 22, 2013

The magic of water in my life… Watermarks

Many people have asked me the meaning of this phrase… and I would like to share here what the magic of water means in my life.

My first memories of life basically start in the water, I remember that my best childhood moments were in the water and it seems to me, water has being a constant thing in my life always.

I remember my first moments of physical effort were in the water, I learned to swim almost at the same time I learned to walk, and the chlorine smell of the pool in which I took my first swimming lessons still fills my head with images of water and smiles.

My first tests of life were also in the water, I could say that before I was aware of school exams, I was already participating in swimming competitions, and those experiences have become a watermark that has become part of  me for all of these years.

My most fun and joyful days have also being around water, the beauty that leaves me breathless and makes me feel very small in this universe is made out of water and is called the sea, the greatness of the ocean is the life I catch day by day, the water that flows until it gets to the sea reminds me that water must flow to bring its benefits to every place it passes by while following its path.

The most wonderful watermark of my life, which inspires me to live every day, is the love that overflows my heart and therefore fulfills me and flows like the water… my children.

My sport challenges have being in the water and have become a watermark in my life that demands so much from me, that takes me to a point in which I think I cannot go on and just when I get to the limit, when my physical capacity is at the point of failing, I think in so many watermarks that strengthen me and I go on, always one more stroke until I reach the other shore.

Some people say water strengthens and helps us gain trust in ourselves, by helping overcome our fears and it contributes to personal growth, I agree to all of these, therefore, swimming has always being a watermark for me… They say that you have to allow kids to be in touch with water, and in order to do so, if they learn how to swim it would be much better, because they shall have a watermark in their lives that shall help them gain trust in themselves, strength, security to overcome challenges, to take their fears away, and that shall give them vitality, the opportunity to dream and of course life itself! Would it be good to swim for adults? Of course! Furthermore!

If you do not how to swim and you want to learn, here are some tips:

  1. Before you learn how to swim, learn to feel the water.
  2. Before you make strokes and lots of kicking, float like the starfish, upside down, and backwards and enjoy.
  3. Before you realize it you shall be swimming and shall be able to share it with me.

I wish you every success! Enjoy the magic of the water



Recover the trust in yourself.., We all have failed at some point!

junio 19, 2013

I am convinced that all of us, who have tried something, have failed at some point; and I think the real value is on trying…

A few days ago, a company invited me to share my experience as an open water swimmer with their staff through a conference in which I share my experience related to my solo English Channel swim.

When the session was over, some people asked questions related to the swim and to the experience itself, to whether I had set or not my next challenge, to how did I combine different aspects of my life like family and my training, there were similar questions I tried to answer one by one. At the end of the Q&A session a young man stood up from his chair and asked for the microphone to make one last question, to which I agreed gladly. He grabbed the microphone and said:

How do you gain your trust again after you have failed?

I do not know what face I made, but it was surely a panic face when I listened to the difficulty of what I was being asked, he insisted:  What happens when you fail? How do you recover trust in yourself?


I was about to have a cough attack, I turned green and really did not know what to respond… however, immediately I remembered the moments in which I had failed in my life as a swimmer and in a second a thousand images went through my mind… so many swimming trial disqualifications due to my own mistakes, the jellyfish attack that made me abandon an open water swim, and with these images I remembered moments in which I have failed by not completing my trainings and many moments more in which I have failed as a person in my daily life… and before all of these circumstances the common factor has being the same thing, trying again  which is the same thing as trying once more.

My response headed this way, I am sharing it right here:


Yes, trying again; however, between a failed challenge and trying again, normally there is a lapse of time, to some that time can consist on a few minutes and to others it can consist on a few days, weeks, months or even years, but from my point of view that lapse of time between one and the other becomes a learning period, in which you evaluate the situation, analyze which are the problems and this is the time we have to go back and visualize the event and visualize it successfully.

This is also the time to realize that eventually we all fail but we are more than winners for trying and even if our next attempt gets also complicated there shall be plenty of opportunities. We should not be afraid to fail, furthermore, my biggest fear is being afraid, I have said it before in many occasions, fear paralyses and prevents you from acting.

I´d rather think that even if I have failed many times, I am lucky because I have had the opportunity to try and then, to try again. The real value is on trying and taking into account that we have all failed once before. And by failing you can also take out the positive part for your next attempt and you shall get there strengthen in a special way; not with physical strength but with a strength that shall make you a winner, it will make you believe again that you can do it and right there you have had recovered the trust you lost in yourself.

Lots of encouragement for the next attempt and remember to enjoy it!Imagen

Celebrating the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim 2009

junio 11, 2013

Text related to the swim, written a few days after June 6th, 2009… Today I am celebrating!

“June 6th, 2009! I have kept this date in mind since last November, when the enrollment process for the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim was officially open. The marathon consists on swimming 46 kilometers around the Island, starting on the east river, continuing by the Harlem, reaching the Hudson and finishing at the starting point, Battery Park. The swim around Manhattan is one of the most important open water events, worldwide.

The distance of the swim is 46 kilometers; the water temperature is similar to the English Channel, between 16-19°C, you have to swim without Neoprene, with a conventional swimsuit a single swimming cap and goggles. The swim has to be uninterrupted and the swimmers cannot, at any time, stop to hold on to any floating object or boat. Openwater swimming rules.

Finally the time has come, its 7:20 a.m. I am number 10 and I hear my name in the speaker, it’s my turn to get in the water, I jump from the Battery Park dock to the water and I immediately lose my breath, its freezing! Mi watch marks 16°C, I swim a little so that I do not lose heat while the start sign is given and I keep thinking I wasn’t expecting the water to be so cold!

I had trained for over 6 months to get to this moment. I swam several sessions up to 40 kilometers in a week, there were days in which I swam 8 hours continuously, I used to have cold water showers between 16-18°C so that my body could get used to it, and finally the time has come to put it all into a test!

I cannot believe it, I have being swimming for 15 minutes and my hands and feet hurt, I am cold. I see my hand under water and its turning purple, I feel shortness of breath and I have tachycardia, I do not like it, I am swimming and I do not feel comfortable. I try to swim opening and closing my hands and moving my feet to take away the pain. I concentrate on my breathing and think: stay calm, it is not the first time and I keep on swimming. Gela is rowing on the kayak beside me and smiles at me when I turn to breath and I smile back and think I cannot let the cold and pain waste so many hours of training. So much enthusiasm, so much support of those who have being with me in this project since day one, and above all so much desire for swimming this marathon around Manhattan Island. No, this does not work that way ….. my body is defending  from the cold and sending alarm signs to the brain so that I stop and get out of the water , but no, I am staying here and keep on swimming.

When I look forward I see I am about to swim under the first of 34 bridges in the journey, The Brooklyn Bridge and I turn around and swim backstroke to enjoy the view… So smashing! I am passing underneath this majestic structure and I am swimming! In a moment I realize I am not cold anymore, nothing hurts and now I am enjoying the journey. When I reach The United Nations building I feel so happy to be there. I turn to breath and see Gela on the kayak enjoying such spectacular view and while breathing on the other side I see my dad on the boat smiling at me and I give him back the biggest smile.

Reaching the Hudson took me almost 5 hours; let’s say I am half way through the trial, this makes me happy, my enthusiasm is at its limit. Looking forward I see the George Washington Bridge and I am very excited to see that in a few minutes I shall be swimming underneath it. I think of my children, Andrea and Eduardo; if they could see me they would be so happy. They have become my engine during so many hours of training and have become a part of this project each in their very own special way, I also think about that plane that last February, had to land on the river and everything went well. I remember it is June 6th, D-Day a date that brings incredible things to my memory; and in the end, now I see lots of little kids faces that shall get surgery to get their cleft lip and palate fixed, all of these goes through my head  while swimming underneath the last bridge, it is almost over! I turn to the boat and see my dad he is smiling and cheering me, and he makes a joking face and this is enough for me to laugh inside and to keep going!

I am so close to the finish, Battery Park and now I can see the end of the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim!! When I turn to breathe, I see people clapping and cheering and while arriving to the finish, I think I do not want this swim to be over, I am enjoying it too much, I have a few strokes left. Finally I reach the dock stairs and I get out of the water; the clock stops; I finished!

It took me 8 hours and 8 minutes to swim around Manhattan Island; I finished in fourth place in the women’s category, and in tenth place in general. I swam 46 kilometers worth 46 surgeries for kids born with cleft lip and palate and that thanks to “Quiero Sonreir”, Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation and Marti Foundation. Swimming for others!”

Four years have passed since the day I swam around Manhattan Island and I´m still celebrating! Dad, your smile kept me going!


Thanks H2Open for sharing..!

mayo 30, 2013


I have been swimming for more than nine hours and I am cold. My shoulders are so heavy. For more than three hours I have been swallowing water each time I turn my head around to breathe. My throat hurts. My tongue is swollen because of the salt. My eyes are burning because of the sea water filtering through the goggles. In two more minutes I will stop to take the every half-an-hour hydration that will give me energy to keep on swimming.

I am trying to keep my mind in peace. I think of the phrase that I have repeated to myself throughout the swimming: “I inhale, I have faith; I exhale, I am in peace”. I am doing my best to stroke efficiently, producing heat in order not to fall into hypothermia. I do not know if I will be able to continue, I am at my limit.

The English Channel separates France and Belgium from England. The narrowest portion between these two points has 33 kilometers in straight line. Crossing this strait has been meaningful for navigation, commerce, politics and sport. It is considered the “Everest” for open water swimmers. In 1886 Captain Mathew Webb swam across the English Channel for the first time and, since then, countless swimmers have tried to cross it. Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to swim across in 1936. Less than thirty Mexicans have crossed it swimming as a solo swim. Out of this number, less than 50 percent are women. Very few of them do it to help others. I am one of these women, and being at my limit, I decided to swim another half an hour.

This is my story.


Let´s finish!

mayo 23, 2013

“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 goes for both of you guys, your fuel fills my tank and makes me strong. Your love and your strength will enable me to keep on all the way”. The three of us hugged and after we hugged Andrea said: “Mom, I am not sure what it is you are going to do out there, but you pull this one off, and finish ok!”

(From the book “Dias Azules” (Water Days).- Mariel Hawley)

I have thought, many times, in these words and I am convinced that Andrea, my daughter, who back then was only ten years old, commended me to finish my swim in order for her  to be able to share it, knowing she was a part of it. If at some point I doubted finishing my English Channel crossing, she saw further than I could see. These words have become a lesson in my life, first of all because I should not doubt what I am about to accomplish, especially when I have worked so hard  to achieve it and secondly because I should have received such words not as a command but as an order, sometimes life presents us with situations that if we do not execute almost as if they were a martial order, there stands the chance we do not reach those goals. This is because when we receive an order, we do not question it and we simply do our work to accomplish it, just as my daughter ordered. Many hours later, in the middle of the sea, when I had being swimming for about nine hours and thought I was at the edge of my physical limit, I would remember her commend, her order and I would keep on swimming until I finished my crossing, which took 14 hours 33minutes!

Let’s not leave stuff unfinished, even if the situation becomes complicated, finishing means much more than crossing the line, signing a document, or closing a circle, it means that the command was accomplished, the dream came true and that somebody else’s expectations get stronger with our goals, it can become a starting point for people that get inspired, to start their own path, by those achievements, so… Let’s finish!


Which generation do you belong to?

mayo 17, 2013

Lately I have heard so many times the idea that we belong to a particular generation based on the year we were born. That is to say, it seems that certain conditions are given by the characteristics of the period we are born in, and that such conditions shall determine the way we are going to work, face our problems, relate, give results, even to react to certain circumstances, including sport situations.

There are people talking about baby boomers, generations x, y and even z; each one has special characteristics, however, I think I want to be a part of a generation that has different characteristics from all of the above, but that goes beyond regarding attitude and way of life.

A starting point generation, in which we acknowledge the value of freedom, but also the value of respect and discipline, in which we demand our best day by day, and this way we learn to give and to commit to ourselves to work hard; in which we visualize our goals and work to achieve them, and with this in mind, we set new goals and new ways to persist and make an effort to accomplish them. Also in an important way we  learn how to form a platform to support others to make their dreams come true.

I am convinced this starting point generation, is formed by, besides certain conditions, people who know how to work under pressure, know how to face changes, know that big achievements are reached with daily effort, that kilometers are built from centimeters crossed every day and that even in crisis situations, from any nature, know how to breath easily and keep their goals in sight. Lots of generations have passed and lots are yet to come and shall live different worlds from the wayImagen we live in, however, I want to belong to this generation of men and women that day by day do their best to go on and live a greatful life.

This starting point generation, is like a watermark that has taken me to swim many kilometers marking me for the rest of my life!


Winners’ Attitude…Always!

mayo 8, 2013

As the days, weeks and months go by, sometimes the work we have to do in order to reach the goals we have established, becomes harder, boring and tired. From time to time keeping up the training gets complicated because of the job, or because of personal or family situations, it is then we realize that even if we had a good start it seems that for every step ahead, we take three steps back.

When this happens, do not give up; do not fall for such deception, do not drown in a complicated situation whirl, take a deep breath and look forward, keep it going. A bump on the road happens to everyone, the whole idea is that the strength you have already gained grows to be enough to help you get out of the bump, if once you were able to get out of the bump and moved on, a bigger and more complicated obstacle should come, my advice, again, is not to give up, do not let the whirl drag you, you keep on going.

Do not fall for the deception! Really, I say it the way it is, because when everything gets complicated and it seems everything around you conspires against your project of reaching your goal, and it looks like you are in the middle of a terrible whirl, our mind can react, it becomes cautious and tells us not to go forward and it falls for the deception, it lets itself get drawn into the whirl!

What to do in this situation? Grab the best weapon to defeat the whirl, the weapon is called… Winners’ Attitude!

Even if everything appears to be against your purpose, when you face the obstacles with winners’ attitude, you can face them one by one and little by little and you can solve complicated situations to keep going down the path you set yourself to achieve your goals.

Do not drawn inside the whirl, take a deep breath and with a winners’ attitude, always think about overcoming the obstacles in spite of how complicated they turn out to be, the difficulties shall pass little by little and a positive, success and winning attitude, shall be your ally and your weapon to face them one by one.

When you are in the middle of the whirl, always maintain a winners’ attitude!


Growing together…

mayo 4, 2013

A few days ago, when I heard this question, I kept on thinking of all the possible responses there are for it. From a physic point of view, it is very easy to measure growth in numbers or quantities; however, in order to measure personal growth, it seems to me the answer cannot be as mathematical.

If a person is measured by their physical aspect, the answer is easy, by making a few calculations we shall obtain a quick response: weight, height, and similar measurements that are just a parameter to compare, and in the end, the result shall be numeric and for some people, this figures might show their growth.

Another measurable aspect could be academic grades, or study degrees, or professional preparation, as well as results of sports trials, all of the above, likewise, can be measured with numbers and referenced values, but in the end, they shall probably show a numeric figure that turns out to be very weak or not reliable regarding true personal growth.

How can we possibly measure personal growth, then? Is there a reference value to measure personal growth without calculations or numeric figures?

I like to think so; let me share this with you, and in order to keep numbers around, from my personal point of view, there are five words or concepts that encourage real personal growth.

  1. Say you are sorry.- Nothing turns more vulnerable a human being than acknowledging their mistakes, and being capable of apologizing… these words help us to take a huge step to encourage personal growth, they help up reconstruct broken bridges, and break bitter and painful chains. The words “I´m sorry” will bring a smile to your heart.
  2. Say please.- Respect shall always be our ally to encourage personal growth; it is much more valuable to say this phrase than saying a lot of the words that form part of our vocabulary. The secret of respect is that it shows what is inside you.
  3. Say thanks.- Being generous allows you to smile and enjoy the most wonderful things around you, rumor has it, when you can smile it is because your heart has learnt to give love to others and you become a thankful person.
  4. Say I do not know, but I would like to learn.- Only extraordinary people can pronounce this phrase, and they are great and extraordinary because they are humble enough to accept their weakness, and enthusiastic enough to always want to learn new things.
  5. It is not mine, I can share it.- Sometimes human beings forget to share, we assume success, love, good fortune, joy, care and many other good things are meant to enjoy them personally o exclusively, let’s not fall for it, sharing allows us to grow, but to grow in a way that we can become so much more by becoming the strength to help other people to grow as well.

I have made a commitment to swim at sports events that have given me a great deal of growth as a sportswoman and as an open water swimmer, however, today I reaffirm my commitment to grow by being more humble, more respectful, more generous, by sharing more, and by apologizing, and this way I shall keep on accumulating kilometers in water but also I shall keep on constructing my personal growth which is what allows me to smile every day.

Would you try it too? This way, we will be growing together!



Opening paths…

mayo 3, 2013

“Someone who opens a path, does not open it for himself,… paths and roads are opened, so that others can walk through it…”

I was granted an award from Mont Blanc Mexico, the Mont Blanc Trophy to the Woman Who Opens Paths. This award is so important for me, though I have been thinking there are many Mexican women that I know who deserved this and many more awards, that I find it hard to believe that this trophy is in my house, however, when I see it, I smile and my heart turns over with excitement.

The women nominated in my category have all my respect and admiration and I am sure, that they, dream with their eyes open, as I do, defeating and defying obstacles everyday to make their dreams come true and this is how they have reached the top of their carriers, to them, Elisa Carrillo, Carmen Boullosa and Dayana Pimentel, all of my admiration.

I shall keep on opening paths… I wish those paths may inspire people to accomplish their dreams.

Thank you to Mont Blanc México for this motivation to continue working and for inspiring my stokes in the water to achieve more smiles through the project Quiero Sonreír.


So, what happens when you start to exercise continuously?

abril 25, 2013

So, what happens when you start to exercise and/or work out continuously?

It changes your life, just like it, it changes your life!

The scientific answer to this question is in thousands of books and essays about the health benefits of working out, but beyond such scientific response, I can assure you, you shall gain a very positive change in your life when you incorporate exercise to your daily routine.

What happens?

Something very real, every day you exercise you become more excited to work out next day, you look forward to working out and this way you start building a chain, a strong chain you do not want to break. By exercising today you gain health for tomorrow.

It becomes exciting to know that next day you shall have the opportunity again to prove yourself you can do it. Even when it sounds like a publicity add, it is true, on one hand exercise engages you and on the other, it dares you to prove yourself you can do it.

Watch out for the trick… ready? Working out constantly does not imply we shall be faster or stronger, nor that each day we shall train better; not at all, that comes with time, but today is the best day to start, and above all, to continue… so that little by little you can achieve certain goals. Letting your workout routine become a part of your life, turns you into a disciplined person, but remember, discipline without creativity bores quickly, this is why I insist on being creative while training, and when you finish your routine, after overcoming boredom and/or fatigue, surely you won’t be faster or stronger than the day before, but you have become mentally stronger and therefore, you have succeeded!

In my case, every month I do a swimming training  that consists on a continuous one hour swimming at an Olympic size pool (50 meters). The whole idea of this training is to swim more meters every month, however, the first few months I did this training, sometimes I even swam less meters than the previous month. In these occasions I was very disappointed; however I realized that just by accomplishing this training I was defeating myself.

Overcoming adversity that might appear along the way and going forward, changes our lives. We shall become better persons, with that special strength that comes from the depths within each one of us, and with that passion that helps us take the next step, the next stroke, we train every day; and this helps us accomplish our goals.

How does it feel to achieve a goal? I am sure you know it, and if you are not there yet, when you reach it, you shall be very lucky and much more than a winner!



An Important Secret…learn to follow instructions
abril 21, 2013 de Mariel Hawley
A few days ago, while waiting for a friend to visit a museum along with her, I was watching the museum staff giving out instructions to the guests so that their visit began at a certain room and they were able to follow a route that finished on the proper hall. I was surprised to see very few people followed the museum guide they were handed at the entrance; instead they did what seemed adequate or convenient.

Probably, a visit to the museum did not require the formality of following instructions but I kept thinking about this matter, and started to recall several situations such as buying an electronic devise, in which is very common for us not to read the instructions guide, we start using it and learn along the way…; which leads us to several mistakes that we might think are not important, but could have been spared if we had read the instructions guide previously.

All of a sudden, I received an e-mail on my phone, it was from my swimming coach, it contained my training schedule for the starting week, and it was then I realized how important it had been for my open water swimming career to receive instructions from people that know, and have the experience and authority to guide my projects.

The process of following instructions is sometimes difficult, but in my point of view, it is the easiest way to get to a goal, it helps you plan your work, prevents injuries you might suffer by overtraining or by performing an inappropriate exercise for your discipline, but above all, it guides you all the way.

In my case, part of the process of following instructions included the millage I was supposed to swim each week, the amount of time I should swim in cold water, and even the amount of weight I had to gain; and in order to avoid mistakes and, unnecessary risks, I followed instructions literally. I even remember Mike Oram instructing me:….PUT THE GOGGLES ON AND KEEP ON SWIMMING…Today I thank him for this almost military order he gave me!:)

It is not always easy, but following instructions is a part of a learning process that guides you to be a better person, it makes you strong, more confident, helps you discipline yourself, and above all, it allows you to work as a part of a team to achieve huge challenges.

Keep in mind these recommendations:

Approach someone that has the knowledge, experience and preparation to guide your project towards your goals.

Trust your coach and what he is teaching you… sometimes we think these are insignificant aspects, but when what matters is to achieve your goal, there are not insignificant aspects, everything is important.

Acknowledge the authority of the person guiding you and the team work shall be easier and faster, you shall begin to enjoy the process, remember the path is a very important part of the challenge to get to your goal.

Today I turn back and acknowledge a large path of instructions I had to follow to finally achieve my huge goal, to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming: The English Channel, The Catalina Channel and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.

Enjoy the process and always keep in mind that huge sports achievements are always accomplished by a team. As soon as possible, look for a guide or coach to work with as a team  and, that can guide and help you on the way to complete your challenge and everything else shall be easy, just follow their instructions!

I wish you every success,



Training to swim in cold water…
abril 18, 2013 de Mariel Hawley
A few months ago, Tania Rincon and Cristian Nigel, hosts of the show, “Lo Mejor de FoxSports (The Best of Fox Sports)”, asked me: How does anyone or how do you train to swim in cold water? My response during the show, was quick: cold showers every day and a one hour bath in cold water and ice once a week! However, as I think and reconsider my answer,  I realize that the training is much more complex than my response; sometimes it can even be painful.

My fist encounter with 13 degrees Celsius water was one November morning, in which, to celebrate my birthday; a friend of mine invited me to swim at a lake close to her neighborhood in Toluca. “To start your cold water training come swim at the lake near my house, it is always cold, only the bravest dogs dare to take a dive…” she said. And so, I did, thinking it would be easy, one morning I decided that I was going to do my first cold water training, and celebrate my birthday at the same time. And just as the bravest dogs did, I took a dive and… A horrible pain paralyzed me!!! At that very moment I thought I had beaten my head with a stone, I started feeling dizzy, everything around me seemed to be spinning, I could not breath, and I could not move my arms. I freaked out!! From the shore my companions asked if I was all right but I could not answer, I could not talk and all of my body started cramping and hurting. I had not given a single stroke yet, I was just there trying to stay afloat and breathe so that air could get into my lungs. I did not understand what was going on… I felt so bad!! I still felt dizzy, but I tried to take a deep breath, and started taking strokes to thwart the pain the cold water was inflicting. I was not even cold, I was in pain!! I took the first strokes with my head out of the water to see where I was heading… When I submerged my face, I felt thousands of stings in my face, because of the cold water. Staying calm, even when I felt someone had putted me in a fridge, I kept on swimming. Little by little the pain reduced and I was able to keep my head underwater. My hands and feet went numb, and turned purple, I had turned purple completely! When I reached the other side of the lake, I saw a gardener working on the shore, he had not seen me; I tried to talk to him, and just said… “Good morning”, he had never been more scared in his life, as he realized the voice came from someone inside the water, he never expected it! I went back to the other side and with the help of Julie and Juan Pablo I came out of the water. I had lost sensitivity at the moment, started shaking uncontrollably, they helped me get dry, to put on some warm clothes, and to hold a thermal bottle with hot tea, until, little by little the shakes gave in and I was able to warm myself with the Van’s heating system.

That day, I was very disappointed thinking how could I plan to swim a cold water long distance event, if I had not been able to hold in the water even for one hour? The disappointment and the deceit forced me to investigate and study this topic, this is how the long journey of cold water swimming training started in order to achieve, many years later, the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming.

I was very disappointed by my first encounter with 13 degrees water, but at the same time it helped me to dedicate myself to this matter. I started to take cold showers, in the begging with warm water and little by little turning the water colder until one day I just opened the cold water without touching the hot water handle. My body started to get used to the cold sensation. As a reward, I used to grant myself the chance to take a hot shower once a week… It ended up being a warm shower since the hot one had a burning effect and made me sleepy afterwards. I did not go back to the brave dogs’ lake until March, because on December, January and February my friend told me the water was below 10 degrees Celsius. Way too cold!

In the middle of March I went back to the lake and without that much pain and with much more confidence I was able to swim for an hour! A great step ahead!

In April, my coach, Rodolfo Aznar, who helped me train during that time, suggested to go to the Volcano Nevado de Toluca… At first I did not understand what for… then he explained there were two lagoons, in what had been a crater, I was so scared I turned green!! To swim in one of the lagoons at Nevado de Toluca at 4,000 meters high and with water below 10 degrees Celsius seemed crazy!

It was obvious; I had to go ahead with this madness! The whole idea was to experience a cold water shock. I mean that my body felt what cold really is so that it could stop complaining for being under water between 15 and 18 degrees. Understanding the theory was very easy… the practical exercise was not that simple! In the middle of April, on spring, the day we chose to go up to the Nevado de Toluca Volcano, turned out to be cloudy and as we went up the road it started raining sleet… I thought the swim would be canceled but I was wrong!

I remember standing at the lagoon’s shore wearing a bathing suit and my red sandals, there were some people at the place asking me to smile to get a picture… Obviously they could not believe I was getting in the water!! I smiled for the picture and nearly froze me, started walking to get in the water … uff it certainly was a cold shock!! The water was 7 degrees Celsius! All of my body ached and after two or three minutes I stopped feeling it. As if I was sedated, I started swimming but did not submerged my head into the water, it was too cold, after a while I encouraged myself to submerge my head into the water and took it out quickly, even my teeth hurt! My coach asked if I was alright but I could not talk… but managed to smile.

The idea of this training was to avoid risks, but we wanted to experiment the cold shock, and this is the way it was for me. Fifteen minutes later I went out of the water, and with some help I got dry and wore warm clothes. This time, the shakes lasted almost an hour, but after a little while I recovered the heat. It was even better when on our way back, we stopped at a “quesadilla” stand and I ate some, which were delicious!! I did this training with my Sport City Mexico swimming relay team, training to prepare ourselves for a four way crossing to the English Channel; which we accomplished in August 2007.  I think everyone remembers the cold water shock but mostly the “quesadillas”!



Have you set yourself a goal or challenge yet?

If you already have a sports goal you already have a clear picture of where you are heading, surely you’ve got an action plan to achieve your challenge.

If you do not have a goal yet, let me tell you something…, if you do not have a challenge that guides your workout and your effort to a specific purpose or target, it becomes very difficult to stay motivated and keep up training or working out or practicing a sport.

Have courage, and with enthusiasm, establish yourself a goal and work to achieve it!

I am giving you a formula that contains the most important ingredients to establish a goal, and to achieve it successfully… ready?

Make your goal a BIG one; I mean a goal that may appear to be unreachable, extraordinary, and uncommon, that you see it far away. This means a very big and important challenge for you.

This is a basic ingredient to keep moving your motivation towards your goal. If your target is small and easy to achieve or reach, it will turn into something that will make you easily loose motivation, since with a little effort you will reach your challenge; otherwise, if you have a great challenge, this will trigger your creativity and motivation in order to keep focused on working very hard day by day, in order to achieve the goal.

The other ingredient, which is as important as to set a BIG goal, is that you become aware of the amount of effort you will need to achieve your great challenge. The effort and work you will need to achieve your goal will be proportional to the importance of your goal or challenge. Therefore, keep in mind that for a GREAT goal or challenge you will need EXTRAORDINARY effort and work.

Remember, your effort and hard work will lead you to your goal. There are some people who think that achieving a goal requires a mid size effort, a little workout every now and then and some dedication, I can tell you, it requires a huge extra dosage of hard work and dedication on an every day basis.

However, I can also tell you that your everyday maximum effort, will one day lead you to achieve your goal, and to achieve it with a very big smile.

My wish for you is that you dream big and you do it with your eyes wide open, the way I dream, with my eyes open in order to overcome and defeat every day’s obstacles, working-out and training very hard, to make my dreams come true.

Best wishes,




For those who want to start…

Sometimes the first step is the hardest. When we do not know how to do something we think to start or to learn might be complicated, and at times there are people who would rather not give it a try, as they say…  “It’s not worth the shot!”

However, taking that first step, even with some fear, doubt or worry, encourages and fills us with confidence on taking the second and third steps and to continue on taking many more. This is what happens when we encourage ourselves to take the first step on doing exercise or workout after a life, or a long time of being sedentary… I remember almost 13 years ago, when I returned to swimming, after leaving it for a while, convincing myself on taking the first stoke took a lot of effort, and today, that first stoke, becomes the most important one of my swimming career.

Here are some tips for those who are encouraging themselves to start:

1.- Don’t hesitate, doubt harms too much, encourage yourself to take a walk or a run for a few minutes, then take a walk for a few more, and alternate, starting bit by bit and smooth, enjoying every step you take.

2. – If you have already taken the first step, take the second one!

3. – If during the same week you can accomplish three days of workout, even if it is walking, running, going up and down the stairs, jumping a rope for a while or anything like it, you have given a great first step, if you keep it up for a month it will become a part of your daily routine, and you’ll see how every day you’ll feel better and willing to continue and follow that path.

I started one day, at a small pool, and by the third day, felt like a seal circling in a pond, but happy to have started… My stokes in the water have become strokes of strength, commitment and success; this is what I wish for your steps, to become a part of a large path of success!

Courage for your first step, take it and enjoy what will come…

Best wishes,




Sunny Days

A week of vacations, sunny days, water days and lots of activity. Laughing moments with friends and family that make everyone happy and ready for things to come. Every training day that goes by gets harder and finding time to train gets complicated. Days start very early in the morning, with my kids and I enjoying hours full of activities such as water skiing, swimming, and hours and hours on the beach, jogging and surfing hundreds of waves. Night hours get long too, there is a difference between now and when they were small, because then,  after 9pm there was no way they would be awake but now, nine comes and then ten and eleven o clock comes and they are still enjoying their vacations and I enjoy watching them happy but also I´m counting the hours that I will sleep before my alarm rings, telling me it is time to train… When I hear the alarm at 6am my body doesn’t react, I am so tired that it takes me a lot of time to wake up and get ready to go and swim. I have done this every day and when I finally dive into the water and start swimming, even though my shoulders are heavy and I still feel a bit soar from all the activity I have had in the week, stroke by stroke I feel better and I smile, a big smile that shows that I am proud of myself for being in the water swimming even though it is vacation time. I have said it before and I have thought about it these days: training doesn’t know the word “vacation”.

Very soon, August 18th,  will come and I will be ready for Ederle Swim, 18 miles from Battery Park, Manhattan to Sandy Hook, New Jersey and I will surely think of the training days during vacations and I am sure that I will smile full of confidence and strength. I hope it will be like that! Imagen


Waiting days in Dover..   My English Channel swim!

Time and life are measured differently for all swimmers that are attempting to swim across the English Channel. The waiting days in Dover acquire another rhythm and a quite peculiar routine. Succeeding in the attempt has nothing to do with what happens in this city during the days prior to the swim. What swimmers experience, listen, think, talk, absolutely everything is connected to the strip of sea I contemplated from the airplane window and that shines as a mirror under the dawn light.

There is no time passing in such a distressing manner as it does in this place. I could dare to compare this expectation with the stage prior to a baby’s birth. On one hand, it is one of the most desired moments for a mother but on the other, it also brings an uncertain and anxiety feeling. The days prior to the swim you experience this same, but deeper feeling. Routine changes and transforms depending on the weather conditions and the weather forecast for the next hours. Every day you must train at least ninety minutes inside the Harbor of Dover. That is necessary to start feeling the temperature and saltiness of the water and start getting a sense of the ocean, in summary, start feeling the Channel. Days go by and during training the swimmer feels closer to his/her attempt, but at the same time, the swimmer also feels farther. Restlessness and uncertainty increase by the minute…Imagen


The English Channel from above

I perfectly saw the English coast in front of the French portion of land known as Cap Gris Nez and in the middle a strip of water shining as a mirror under the morning sunrise. I could not stop staring; I was absorbed, captivated, almost hypnotized. The stewardess approached me offering a cup coffee. When she noticed that I did not answer, she touched my shoulder and asked: “Are you feeling all right?” Did I feel all right? Can someone who has been dreaming about something for the last year feel all right? Considering that such dream suddenly appears before you eyes, so tangible, so real, almost like magic. Of course not! I did not feel all right; I felt outside myself, there were a lot of expectations towards that strip of water. For the last 10 months I thought of the English Channel on a daily basis, and, in that moment, I had it before my eyes.

For a moment, the English Channel “intentionally” posed for me, I was able to contemplate it, analyze it, examine it. It introduced itself with its best face, full of sunrays reflecting on the water. Seemed like it did not want to hide anything; it was simply there, posing for me, letting me appreciate it as a whole from up above.

With this image imprinted in my mind, I got off the airplane.


My English Channel Solo Swim


I´m working on the translation of my book Días Azules…Imagen

I have been swimming for more than nine hours and I am cold. My shoulders are so heavy. For more than three hours I have been swallowing water each time I turn my head around to breathe. My throat hurts. My tongue is swollen because of the salt. My eyes are burning because of the sea water filtering through the goggles. In two more minutes I will stop to take the every half-an-hour hydration that will give me energy to keep on swimming.

I am trying to keep my mind in peace. I think of the phrase that I have repeated to myself throughout the swimming: “I inhale, I have faith; I exhale, I am in peace”. I am doing my best to stroke efficiently, producing heat in order not to fall into hypothermia. I do not know if I will be able to continue, I am at my limit.

The English Channel separates France and Belgium from England. The narrowest portion between these two points has 33 kilometers in straight line. Crossing this strait has been meaningful for navigation, commerce, politics and sport. It is considered the “Everest” for open water swimmers. In 1886 Captain Mathew Webb swam across the English Channel for the first time and, since then, countless swimmers have tried to cross it. Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to swim across in 1936. Less than thirty Mexicans have crossed it swimming as a solo swim. Out of this number, less than 50 percent are women. Very few of them do it to help others. I am one of these women, and being at my limit, I decided to swim another half an hour.

This is my story.


Im ready to… Swim for your Heart!
This event is organized in Mexico as part of the Swim for your Heart, Valentine´s Day, campaign in order to bring awareness of heart disease. To take care of the most important vital organ that we have: our heart. Sometimes we think that because we exercise, we have a healthy lifestyle and good eating habits we will not be at risk to have some heart problem but we forget that we should get our blood pressure checked at least twice every year.

Swim for your Heart is a campaign in order to bring awareness of heart disease; many swimmers around the world will join this campaign and will swim on February 14 in order to share the awareness of taking care of our heart. This year, as the two previous, Sport City Fitness Club swimmers will join Swim for your Heart and we will try to have at least 2013 swimmers joining this very special Swim for your Heart campaign. Also, Sport City Fitness Club will donate an economic contribution in favor of the Mexican Heart Foundation.

If you want to join Swim for your Heart, next February 14, swim at least one kilometer and share the awareness of heart disease with those around you. You can share with them that the most important thing we can all do is to get a med check-up at least once a year and a blood pressure check-up twice a year. By doing this we are doing a lot more than we realize.

Today, I visited the National Institute of Cardiology, the Heart Rehabilitation Unit and realized that the kilometers that I had swam in 2011 and 2012 as part of this campaign, have really helped to share the awareness and to take care of many people´s heart.

I will celebrate this Valentine´s Day by swimming for the heart of someone else.



Remembering my Father

Last Saturday I did my first 3 hours training towards 2013 Ederle Swim, next August.
I swam in one of my favorite places, Las Estacas, a very beautiful place about one hour from Mexico City.

My kids, Andrea and Lalo, as well as my mom came with me and on our way to Las Estacas, we were talking and planning our day. I told them that almost 2 years ago, a few days before my dad’s death, he and Lalo came with me to Las Estacas, and we recalled the incredible moments we spend that time and remembered that my dad loved this amazing place. That’s why we all dediced that spending the day at Las Estacas would be a great way to remember my dad and to think about how he spent his life loving and being kind to his family. Also, remembering all he did during his life as a doctor, transforming so many people´s lives and helping them in many ways.

I swam three hours, enjoying the river, the cold and crystal water, the acuatic plants and all the vegetation of this place. All the Green from around the river filled me up with energy on each stroke. I also recalled the wonderfull moments I spent with my dad in this place. His life was a plentiful one and eventhough he is no longer here with us, he left his loving memory so that we can love and take care of others the way he did.

I swam a lot of meters and kilometers in order to to have my reserve ready for Ederle Swim. I enjoyed swimming with Nora Toledano @NoraToledanoC and Carlos Komori and I wish they both achieve their swimming dreams they have for this year. I thank Ariadna Del Villar @DocdelDeporte, for her support. And I can assure you, that we all had a great time and my mom, Lalo, Andrea and I, remembered my father in a very special way.





I wore the medal on my neck!!

Today I got my certificate from the Swim across the Catalina Channel. When I looked at it my eyes filled with tears. How much effort, so many hours swimming in the dark, all the biting from the jellyfish, all those strokes to achieve this swim and 100 surgeries for kids with cleft lip and palate! After a little while I wore the medal on my neck!!



Supporting someone else…

Everyday there is something that pushes us down, makes us sad and makes us doubt about what we are doing. Sometimes we ask ourselves if it is worthwhile to continue in our way that requires us effort and work and even though our mind plays us and becomes our first enemy, I am convinced that in these moments of sadness, solitude, fear, pain and distress we should have the attitude of willingness to fight and carry on.

Several times we want to be strong to support other people but if we let ourselves be defeated each time we come across a difficulty or obstacle in the way, it will be very tough to support someone else and we are just going to be next to someone in his difficult time instead of giving him/her strength and support. Some people say that the true support is when someone takes the heat for oneself or when we take the place of the person living the situation to the fullest to endure his pain, suffering or distress to relieve the person and free him of this charge so heavy that weakens him. To be able to do this we need to be strong and have an attitude of steel.

Today I am convinced that I need to become stronger everyday so when it is necessary to carry the burden of someone, I will actually be able to be their support and carry the burden. With this idea in my head last Saturday I went out with my son, Lalo, to “Paso de Cortes” to run over 10k. We enjoyed the place a lot. It is incredible. Running between the “Iztccíhuatl” and “Popocatépetl” volcano is a gift from nature. We are lucky to be able to enjoy this place. Even though we ran we didn’t train, this was not a training, we strengthen ourselves to be stronger to support other people.

With this attitude we can continue defeating obstacles that come across each day and work like this to make our dreams come true and help others so that their dreams come true as well.




Happy New Year!

I wish your 2013 is full of blessings and a lot of dreams to make them happen!

I love the idea to start a year that for sure will bring a lot of surprises but today I thank that I start with health, with my family and with a great enthusiasm to carry out new projects that will bring benefits to others.

A lot of people have asked me what I will be swimming this year and I am so glad to share with you that I will be swimming the Ederle Swim. This is a swim to honor Gertrude Ederle, the first woman that swam the English Channel, she did this is 1926! I have been there and I recognize the effort and such a big accomplishment she did, breaking the boundaries of the school of thought of that time and the stereotypes and expectatios! When she swam the English Channel only 5 men had made it and her time was much better than all of them. But a few years later she became deaf. She was deaf most of her life and kept on fighting to not be discriminated or locked up. If today I had the opportunity to invite someone to swim with me I would invite her! I admire this woman, brave, avant-garde, committed, enthusiast and pioneer in open water swimming. This great woman died when she was 97 years old, November 30, 2003. This year it´s the 10th year since her death and I honor her memory by swimming the Ederle Swim August 18, to recall a great woman in the history of mankind.

The route of the Ederle Swim is from Battery Park, Manhattan to Sandy Hook, Connecticut, they are about 17.5 miles and each stroke will be a stroke to bring hope and love to all the people who have lost a close one in the tragic episode of Sandy Hook that made me really sad. Life goes on and while I am still alive I will do what I can to help change people’s lives that are in need. Through the project “Quiero Sonreir” (I want to smile) I have helped to change the lives of many children with cleft lip and palate, I hope through Ederle Swim I can continue to do it. My strokes to get more smiles!

0_0_540_425Gertrude Ederle Swimming English Channelgertrude-ederleimages-3IMG-20121023-WA004