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Sophie's Why



When I was asked to be part of this incredible adventure, my instinctive reaction was a big fat YES!!! But of course, being the gargantuan task that it is, it required a little more thought and reasoning.

Initially I found it difficult to answer with anything of more substance than just “because I want to test my limits and it’s a really big challenge”. Obviously this plays a big part in my ‘why’ but delving deeper into that reveals a lot more.

Being driven by a physical task has always been at the forefront of my life, playing competitive rugby was my purpose in many ways and at a time when I thought I’d lost that, I felt I’d also lost a part of myself. It brought to light the issue many athletes struggle with, that sporting careers are finite and will one day end, so what do you do when that happens...? Well for me, I knew I wanted to pursue something big!

Not long before being asked to join the GWD crew, I had read the book by Ross Edgley “The Art of Resilience” which documented his Great British Swim. The message I took from this was to do something that really stretched my comfort zone, so the plans to partake in an endurance event were already working through my mind, I just wasn’t sure what that would be.

There was definitely an appeal to being part of a team, as a rugby player the dynamics were very familiar and easily transferable, but, there was also a side to this that scared me. This wasn’t to do with anyone else, but more my own experiences with fitting into a team dynamic, especially an all female crew. Typically, I have always been slightly wary of female company (cue flashbacks of mean girls pushing me down in the playground or bitchy comments in the workplace), so there was certainly apprehension about this experience and whether or not it would be like others in the past.

Revealing this to my crew members, also one of the hardest things to date, for fear of them thinking I was going to be an absolute nightmare to get on with... yet to be seen! Turns out, we all share similar feelings and anxieties, ahhh the beauty of sharing. What I’ve realised, is that these experiences are largely dictated by me and exposing myself to that fear will give me opportunity to overcome it.

The whole ‘facing fears’ concept goes well beyond group dynamics though. My biggest fear by far is myself and my ability, or inability as it would sometimes be in my head, to be successful in my endeavours. So this really becomes so much more than a physical challenge, in fact that is the least of my concerns because I know my body is strong and tough, but the body only goes where the mind takes it, which is a much harder beast to tame!

So in a nutshell, my ‘why’ is to overcome my fears of failing and test my mental resilience, to put myself in an uncomfortable place in body, but more so in mind. To expose those vulnerabilities and develop better responses to certain triggers, to have purpose and direction.... And of course, be a badass b***h who casually rows an ocean!

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