Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Deep in Thought

Open water swimmers are often deep in thought or contemplating a variety of topics while they swim in lakes, bay, channels, rivers or oceans.

As their arms rhythmically churn, swimmers certainly have the time and luxury to fantasize about certain achievements, reminiscence about past experiences and focus their attention on future goals.

The phrase, "It's all in your head," is well-understood by open water swimmers.

Similarly, ordained individuals in the world's various religions are also often deep in prayer or contemplation, either by themselves or with others.

So we asked how many ordained individuals are also open water swimmers, given this common bond of having both time and the opportunity for deep contemplation? Our limited research has found several individuals, knowing that we have missed a great number of deacons, chaplains, clergy, clerics, ecclesiastics, missionaries, monks, pastors, preachers, priests, rectors, reverends and rabbis who also swim:

Father Robert Manning, an American Catholic priest successfully crossed the English Channel in a time of 18 hours and 15 minutes in 1984.

Known as the "swimming nun", Stella Taylor (shown above) appeared on the Today Show with Tom Brokaw after her 56-hour attempt to cross the Florida Straits from the Bahamas to Florida. A two-time English Channel swimmer and a 1982 inductee in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Stella was the oldest woman to swim the English Channel at 45 years and 349 days of age. She also swam across the alligator-rich Lake Okeechobee in Florida, Lake George in New York, around Everglades City in Florida, and once spent 65 hours swimming in a swimming pool.

Currently, Pastor Mike Solberg (shown below) is training to swim the English Channel in September. "It's a big challenge and an interesting adventure and I've been waiting for the right time to do it." But, his challenge is for something more meaningful than simply a personal adventure.

Dr. Solberg, the senior pastor at the Second Congregational United Church of Christ in Rockford, Illinois, aims to raise US$50,000 to build a school for 420 students in Angola Waku Kungo, Angola.

"I visited Angola about four years ago. The church and the people there just stuck in my mind. Angola is a very difficult place to live because they are recovering from a civil war. My hope is to use my English Channel swim to raise the money to build a badly needed school."

Dr. Solberg is able to pursue this double dream after winning a US$45,000 grant from the National Clergy Renewal Program of the Lilly Foundation. The grant funds a three-month sabbatical from his pastoral duties to cover for fees, travel and related expenses of the English Channel crossing. Dr. Solberg is working with the Evangelical Congregational Church of Angola. "The only way the country of Angola will improve is through the education of their children. I have a passion to help make that happen, but I cannot do it alone."

As both channel swimmers and ordained individuals around the world know well, no one can do it alone.

Copyright © 2009 by World Open Water Swimming Association


Mike Solberg said...

Thanks for the mention, 10k. People can see www.SwimMikeSwim.com for more about my swim and school building project.


Anonymous said...

I am not clergy, but I work in ministry (youth/christian education) and am a mediocre amateur open water swimmer. :)

Water is very spiritual. It's great to spend so much time in it, learning its rhythms.

cool connection -- thanks for looking into it! and blessings to Pastor Mike and his efforts!

Steven Munatones said...

Good luck, Mike. We'd like to keep up with me, as you head over to Dover, do your first training swim in the Channel and your actual swim.