In the early nineties, Slovenian native Martin Strel, then about 38 years old and a successful professional musician at the time, decided a career change was in order. He exchanged his guitar for a wet suit and started his new profession as a long-distance swimmer.
He got the idea that he would like to swim the length of rivers from their source to estuary. Martin started in 1992 with a smaller river, swimming the 65 miles of the river Krka in his homeland. Sufficiently warmed up, he was ready to tackle ever longer rivers with more challenging aspects.
In 2002 he swam the mighty Mississippi River, from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico -- 2,360 miles in 68 days. The muddy Yangtze River in China was his swimming adventure in 2004 -- 2,488 miles in just 51 days. He topped it all off when in 2007 he took on the dangers of the Amazon River in South America -- swimming the 3,274 miles from Peru to Brazil in 66 days -- AT AGE 52!
During these epic, super-human swims he spent 10 or more hours swimming each day, took no days off, and got by on five hours of sleep a night. We might mention that he swam through waters known for their pollution, abundance of microbes, carcass-stripping piranha, poisonous snakes, alligators, and modern-day pirates with AK-47s.
When asked his secret, Martin points to his head. You see, one can only get so physically fit and then it's just a matter of inalterable mental focus. More specifically, Martin listened to the voice inside his head that said, "Martin, you can do this!" while most of us mere mortals would have listened to the voice inside our head that said, "Martin (or whatever your name is) are you bleeping crazy? That's the most ridiculous idea you've ever had, and besides, it's humanly impossible AND besides, those piranhas and alligators don't care what you're trying to do -- they're going to feast on your carcass anyway."
Ed Mayhew, speaker and author of Fitter for Life and Fitter After 50