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The Pre-Expedition Jitters

Serpentine swimming

Dan Martin is about to swim the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, you read that right. This is a trip that boggles my mind. I asked him to write a few words so that people who follow my blog will learn about his trip and follow Dan’s progress…



1. jitters, nervousness; a feeling of fright or uneasiness
verb (used without object)
2. to behave nervously.

The fear. The self doubt. The jitters. Everyone gets them. If you don’t get them then you’re not trying hard enough! I had them before both the marathons I’mve run-more on the second as I knew what was coming! On my bike ride from London to Cape Town they got so bad that I brought the trip forward by a month! I brought the second trip from Korea to Cape Town forward by a week too just to get it all started!

In the days and weeks running up to an expedition your mind is in overdrive day and night thinking through all the worst case scenarios. The “what if’s” haunt your dreams and it’s all people ever ask about.

What if you get shot?
What if you get attacked?
What if you can’t find food/water/shelter?
What if you get sick/injured?

Before I started my first big bike ride I e-mailed Al and asked him for advice-he said that the hardest part is getting out your front door. I didn’t believe him at the time but he’s spot on.

Once you’re out your front door, once you’ve started the hypotheticals fade and the day to day management of the trip takes over. I know this will happen on this trip but here I am less than a week from starting my Global Triathlon by swimming the Atlantic and I’mm nearly paralysed with fear and riddled with doubt.

But I’mll make it.

You can follow Dan’s trip in these ways:

  1. His website
  2. Twitter – @danmartinadv
  3. YouTube

Read Comments

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  1. toonboy Posted

    This is ridiculous nobody can swim across the atlantic its too far. What an idiot wasting peoples time with this. i wish i was as rich as him to go wasting all my money on something stupid like this. i bet he doesn’t even get 50 miles before he gives up.

    • Alastair Humphreys Posted

      Hi again,
      I know it sounds crazy, but Dan is serious about this. He’s not rich: he’s been working towards this for ages.
      I have no idea if he will succeed or not. I think though that we should only allowed to be able to slag him off if we ourselves can swim further than him.
      If he only makes it 50 miles I will still admire his bravery and boldness in beginning. And the fact that he can swim 49 miles further than me.

      • Seriously Al, I believe in free speech and all, but surely there’s a case for this troll to be blocked from commenting. It’s not the first time.

        Best of luck Big D.

        • Hi Alex, I can’t be bothered to block him. Also I want the site to be transparent in terms of people criticising me etc.

          I’m off to Greenland tomorrow – can’t wait!

          • I reckon toon boy is Al’s alter ego? An evil, short sighted twin. An thick browed devil’s advocate. He only seems to comment on blogs about other people’s expeditions ; )

            And, it goes without saying that Dan’s a legend, swim the Atlantic you looper!

          • Sounds fair and admirable!

            Hope Greenland goes well – quite late though so watch the melt!

    • Hi Toonboy,

      For me…you are missing the point. Whether this endeavour is impossible or not is irrelevant. For me it is a reminder that none of us should predetermine our own limitations.
      Stories such as this remind us to question what we are doing and how we live our lives.
      I wish him luck and even if he is unsuccessful in achieving his goal, he will have the personal satisfaction of knowing that he gave it a shot and inevitably learnt valuable insights in the process.
      Can you honestly say the same?


  2. So glad to read this today. I’m leaving tomorrow for my Big Alps Run 1000 mile run, and I feel rubbish. Glad to read that others have the same problem.

    All the best for the Atlantic swim Dan, sounds truly epic. And to you too Al, for whatever you’re up to in Greenland!


  3. Well, one thing is impossible until someone goes and DO IT!! Good luck, Dan. 🙂

  4. WOW. Phenominal. Reminds me of that crazy Serbian who has swum all the biggest rivers, building up to conquer the Nile (of which I’m sure people quote impossible). I can’t believe what I’ve been reading on his ‘triathlon’, I really hope he succeeds.

    Good luck in Greenland….

  5. Toon boy is just a wind up merchant looking for a reaction, which he tends to get, better to just ignore or put a short comment like “don’t feed the troll” and move on.

    Dan, Would be impressed if you do it in 3 months. That’s 30 miles/day which seems unbelievably punishing in ocean conditions. I mean just walking 30 miles/day for that long would be tough excersie. Surely no-one can do it that fast? Are you actually swimming the entire distance if it’s not a silly question? When you’re not swimming will the boat stay in the same place somehow (GPS)? or will it just drift with the currents one way or the other?

    Just walking or running a continent is a challenge, but the swimming part looks 10 times harder. Rather you than me.

  6. Thanks for all the comments above! Can’t believe I have my own misguided troll-must be doing something right!

    Jamie-I agree three months would be impressive! I swim at just over 2mph so would need me to be swimming in 2mph current the whole way! It’s not impossible though- but I’m looking more at 4-6months-swimming 16miles in 8hours each day and hoping to get around 1mph positive current. The current is alot stronger earlier on and then gets less and less powerful so it may look like after a month or so that I’m going to make it in 3months but then will end up being five or six! I should really write a blog post on my website about this to avoid confusion!

    At night time we’ll mark the point I get out using GPS and go back there then next day.

  7. Paul Gallagher Posted

    Unless he starts he ‘ll never know will he? People said this about Everest, K2, Ironman and even women yes women finishing a marathon. Good luck mate. Get it done!

  8. Hugh Colvin Posted

    I have nothing but admiration for you on this trip.

    Anyone who says it is impossible just lacks the imagination to consider how it could be done.

    Just remember it is a physical challenge to swim a set distance.You know you can swim (or at least I certainly hope so by now) and the distance won’t change. If you wake up each morning and get closer to the finish than the day before you will eventually get there. Sounds ridiculously simplistic but day to day I think simple goals will make a lot of sense!

    Can’t wait for you to get started so we can all follow your progress.

    What you are doing is amazing – would that we could all have your courage, imagination and motivation. The world would be a better and more interesting place.

    Good luck!

  9. Well done Dan. So jealous, words cannot describe! Am organising a chopper to drop me off somewhere mid Atlantic to keep you company… Send me the GPS, i’ll bring scones.

  10. Iain McGregor Posted

    Awesome Dan!

    Have a great adventure. Inspire the world to be more than they can be and remind people that limitations are something they put on themselves.

    True Champion mate.




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