“Where there is no vision, there is no hope.”
—George Washington Carver
The Catalina Eddy is a counterclockwise circulation that forms in Southern California. It can occur all year, but is most frequent from April through July. With the heating of the desert air and the pressure of the Pacific Ocean this area is frequently plagued by a deep fog and gloomy seas, only to be lifted by the afternoon sun.
On July 4th 1952 the Catalina Eddy formed around Catalina Island (off the coast of Southern California). Although many people have tried to swim the 21 miles from Catalina Island to the California coast, it was Florence Chadwick, who’d already swum across the English Channel, who stepped into the freezing Pacific waters to make an attempt.
Surrounding her were boats that would ride along with Florence keeping a constant eye on the deep waters, more specifically watching for sharks. They not only followed to watch and pull her out if a shark came too close, but they afforded Florence an opportunity to escape the frigid waters if she were to become injured or too tired to swim any further.
Stepping into the water Florence noted the thickness of the fog; she couldn’t see the boats around her. Even considering the obstacles in front of her she decided to push on. While initially she swam strong, the cold water and choppy ocean began to take its toll. She could hear the rifles as the crew around her took several shots into the water to scare away sharks.
Fifteen hours later Florence was overly fatigued and felt she couldn’t go on any further. Her mother and trainer were in one of the boats encouraging her. Finally, with her energy drained she asked to be pulled from the water after swimming for 15 hours and 55 minutes.
Surprisingly, she hadn’t realized she was only a half mile from the California coast. Florence later told a reporter, “Look, I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land I know I could have made it.”
Unfortunately her focus was skewed by the thick fog and she felt like she was swimming without getting anywhere. Florence was determined to never quit again. Two months later she attempted the same swim, this time completing the 21 miles in 13 hours 47 minutes and 55 seconds, two hours faster than the previous men’s record, also making her the first woman to complete the swim.
Florence was able to put aside her fatigue and pain, but that wasn’t enough. She was only able to obtain her goal when she was able to see it! Don’t let a foggy vision stop you from achieving your goals.