It’s now August 12th, 10 days before my big swim is scheduled to start. I have just landed in Victoria, Canada after spending just over a week on the island of Kauai. Emma Beckworth, one of my swim paddlers is with me. We made the trip together as members Ocean River Paddling Club and were on the same crew for the Na Pali Challenge – the race that was blown out of the water by hurricane Iselle. My shoulder is throbbing and although I can lift my arm, it takes an incredible amount of effort. I have also developed a very negative attitude about the swim. I need to seek the help of my healers.

There are three healers who were instrumental in my swim this year. The first, Lisa Rutherford, had been helping me throughout the year. The other 2, Sandy Wilson and Niki Hughes became crucial to me the 2 weeks prior to my swim.

Lisa Rutherford: Doctor of Homeopathy & Heilkunst

At the beginning of my training season I decided it was time to seek the help of a nutritionist as my diet had caused me a number of concerns. Although I knew the swim was doable as a vegan, I also knew I didn’t know enough about how to ensure I received all of the nutrients I needed, in particular protein. I had read of other open water swimmers eating a steady diet of eggs and steak – definitely not for me!

Enter Lisa Rutherford, a practicing Heilkunst and Natural Healer who emphasises nutrition as part of her practice. Lisa crafted a nutrient rich, high-protein vegan diet for me, provided me with a number of strategies for dealing with recovery and made sure that my body had all of the nutrients it would need to train for and complete a 70km swim. Although I originally went to her for a nutrition plan I received far more than I ever expected, all of which was extremely valuable.

Within hours of landing in Victoria I was in her office. I broke the news to her about my shoulder and told her I was sure I would be able to swim. She immediately sprung to action with remedies I could use to help me bring down the inflammation and work through the pain. She also gave me a number of remedies that would help with some of the harmful effects of any anti-inflammatories I had taken. I felt a glimmer of hope after leaving her office but I wasn’t quite where I needed to be. I had 10 days to go, was still in a lot of pain, didn’t have full range of motion through my left shoulder and hadn’t been swimming in over 10 days.

Sandy Wilson: Registered Physiotherapist, Arbutus Physiotherapy

Last year, while training for a 35km swim I was messing around in an outrigger an injured my left shoulder. I was told by my doctor it could take up-to a year to heal. I had already spent well over 6 months training and was about 3 months away from the swim. I wasn’t prepared to give-up what I had been working for that easily. I put word out I was looking for a Physiotherapist and one of my coaches, Mike Neil suggested I see Sandy Wilson.

When I injured my shoulder again this year I turned to Sandy again for help. I knew from last year that I could bring the inflammation down with anti-inflammatories but I needed some help with mobility. My shoulder had seized up. I booked an appointment with Sandy before I left Hawaii for when I returned and spent a my last days on Kauai doing what she had taught me last year.

I was 8 days away from my swim on the day I went to see her. I knew the active release I was about to receive was going hurt but I had to do it if I had any hope of swimming. Just hearing Sandy say that I would be ok to do the swim made the world of difference.

Sandy worked on my left shoulder for about an hour that night, loosening it up as much as she could. She suggested I get into the water and do a bit of swimming on the weekend – so I did. I scheduled another appointment with her for a few days before the swim.

Niki Hughes: Energy Healer

It’s now August 20th, just 2 days before I jump into the water for the swim. I swam over the weekend with some success but was feeling pain. I’ve worked myself into a very negative place about the swim. I have convinced myself it is not going to be fun, it will be very hard, I am going to hurt a lot, and it is likely that after a year of training was not going to make it. I have allowed my injury to get the best of me.

I share my malaise about the swim with Niki Hughes, a co-worker and trusted friend. And there it was, the deciding moment.

Niki said “It’s up to you Susan, if you keep telling yourself it will be hard, it will be. If you see it as being easy it will be”.

She was right. It was up to me. From that moment I decided to see the swim as fun and pain free. It was the mental change I needed.
But there’s more!

Niki offered to give me a Reiki treatment that evening. I had never had Reiki before and wasn’t quite sure what it would do, but I trusted Niki, so I took her up on her offer. The treatment, along with acupressure and a few other things was exactly what I needed. When she was done my head and body were 100% ready to go. I was now in it to swim it!

Coming soon: 70km for MS: part 3 – the first 12 hours

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