So we beat on…

by | 10 May 2015

I stood on the beach and cried.

I cried because I’d done it. I have officially qualified to swim the Channel by completing six hours in water below 16 degrees. But I know my tears were for other reasons as well. Reasons that it’s too soon to write about but will eventually find their words.

Now that I am a certified contender it feels more frightening than ever. Six hours was hard but the real thing will be more than double that. I fear I haven’t got it in me and, if I’m honest, I question why I’ve chosen to take on one of the toughest physical and mental endurance tests on the planet especially as I already attempted one of those – not once but eleven times – and it never ended well. And just like IVF, the Channel has more chance of failure than success.

There is something in all this that makes me think of the last line of F Scott Fitzgerald’s beautiful book The Great Gatsby: 

‘So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past’.

I guess I just hope that sometimes we all get the chance to swim with the current towards the future. Let this be my chance.


  1. Bec

    What a feat. Such a mammoth effort on all fronts -the swimming and your pursuit to have a baby. We women have such grit and you show it in slits glory.

  2. Bec

    *in all of its glory*

  3. thepursuitofmotherhood

    Thank you. I’m just feeling confused right now as to whether mammoth efforts are in fact glorious but your encouragement means a lot. It really does. Thank you. Hope all is good with you.

  4. Naomi

    Well done been thinking about you lots lately. Congratulations on getting the go-ahead xxxxxx

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Thanks Naomi. Been thinking about you too and sorry I have been a bit incommunicado. I think the move to ‘Embrace Fertility’ is great and not long to go now before your own big day!!! Let me know if you still want to show the film? The cinema is all up and running now so email me if you want to discuss. Jessica x

  5. kiftsgate

    Well done Jessica!!! I look forward to hearing about the big swim in the summer!

  6. livingwithrobyn

    We often assess situations by their potential outcome, I guess as humans we are driven by outcome. The real strength, the real courage, the real learning comes out of the process rather than the outcome. Well done on completing the process so far! Please tell me you are going to wear a wetsuit though?! x

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      You are so right! And sadly this ‘process’ of mine will not be achieved with the aid of a wetsuit. Not allowed under Channel swimming rules unfortunately. Have been in Dover harbour today and boy is it cold at the moment! J x

      • livingwithrobyn

        Really?! I can’t believe that! Maybe you’d get too hot or it’d restrict your swimming. The thought if Dover harbour made me wince! x

        • thepursuitofmotherhood

          It’s because Captain Matthew Webb who first swam the Channel in 1875 didn’t wear one so you can’t now if you want to be an ‘official’ channel swimmer. And yes, Dover harbour is an acquired taste that many people don’t want to acquire! Jessica x

          • livingwithrobyn

            I imagine the sea was warmer back then, pre global warming! Either that or he had some serious trunks. When is the big swim? X

          • livingwithrobyn

            Although actually, it’s supposed to be warner now I think? Either way, I salute you! x

          • thepursuitofmotherhood

            My slot is in August although I won’t know the exact date until very near the time because it depends on the weather, tides, other swimmers etc. I’m not sure whether the water is warmer or colder, even if it’s warmer it still feels bloody cold. Webb had brandy and beef tea on his way across and, yes, doubt he was wearing speedos. Now it’s warm carbohydrate drink and jelly babies. My how things have changed.

      • Jane

        Wow – no wetsuit, I guess that is why you must pass the qualifying challenge. Do you have to increase your percentage body fat too (to keep you going so long)? Well done Jessica – an amazing achievement already.

        • thepursuitofmotherhood

          Yes, no wetsuit because Captain Matthew Webb who first swam the Channel in 1875 didn’t wear one so we have to follow suit (pardon the pun!). So yes you have to eat A LOT to insulate yourself from the cold. I’m enjoying that! Jessica x