Reasons To, Reasons Not To

By Emma Pearson

July 16, 2024

Photos of Lake Geneva, 13 July 2022

14 July 2022

In a couple of days, I hope to swim across Lake Geneva at its widest point – Lausanne to Evian. 13 km. A smidge over 8 miles. As the crow flies. And I am neither a crow, nor am I flying. Instead, the wind seems to be picking up, even if the weather looks like it will be glorious. And there are currents in such a big body of water. Nope. Flying I will not be.

Anyway. I have been getting steadily more and more nervous as the big day approaches, and, as so often in the past when I have registered for some pretty crazy event, I wonder why, exactly, do I put myself through this. I get asked the question by some people too (though not so many – mostly people understand why I do such things!)

While out walking the dog this morning, I thought I would make a little list of the reasons to do it, versus the reasons not to do it. Just so that I have a steady flow of reasons to weave into a mantra of sorts while I am out for hours in the water.

Reasons to do it (and assuming I succeed)

  • I actually do love to swim. Truly.
  • I actually do want to swim this event. Truly.
  • I suspect I will even enjoy it. Most of it. 90% or more, hopefully. But even if it’s less than that, I know I will really enjoy parts of it.
  • I love big open spaces, and being in Big Nature, and Lake Geneva is BIG!
  • I love the feeling of being in water – supported, lifted, weightless.
  • I like to challenge myself physically, to be fit. Health is one of my core values.
  • I will feel great afterwards. Yes dammit I will! Even if I don’t always feel great during it.
  • I can raise money for good causes. (Sponsor me! See below).
  • Tangentially, it’s an excuse to be in touch with lots of people to ask for sponsorship.
  • It will be an accomplishment that I will think of and remember often – whenever I visit Lausanne, Evian, or see the lake. Which is at least once a week. (I remember and think of my hike up Mont Blanc with Mike in 2005 whenever I see the Mont Blanc. Which is more often than once a week. And since both my maternal granny and my mum – and many other family members have been to the top, I think of them too).
  • I will be able to practise being present, recite mantras, count my blessings, for many hours! I find swimming long distances to be very meditative.
  • I can count to the number of trees that will be planted with Reforest’Action – the organisation that I am inviting people to donate to as sponsorship for my effort. And I can count to it again. And again. And again. Because even if people donate up to 1,000 trees, counting to that number is not going to last as long as the swim will.
  • I will be cheered on (if not during, then before and afterwards).
  • I might even be met at the end – my Ukrainian family wants to try to greet me as I finish.
  • If I complete it, I won’t need to do it again! Not that I have a bucket list or anything daft like that, but at least I won’t need to enter it again. Shorter distances will do just fine. Like 7 km at the end of the summer.
  • I will be “swim satisfied” (a phrase I learned on a 10 km training camp in early May). I will be complete. Full of swim.

Reasons not to do it

  • I feel sick, nervous, weak and pathetic beforehand.
  • I don’t feel I have trained enough.
  • I don’t like my wetsuit (all of a sudden).
  • My goggles leak (all of a sudden).
  • I don’t sleep well – often at all the night before, and not well in the days before.
  • I might get bad cramp, and then what do I do, out there in the elements?
  • The logistics of figuring out how to travel to one side of a lake, travel to the other, then swim back to the first side in order to have a car at the end, and then drive home, are really doing my head in.
  • I will miss not having Mike, and one, two, or three of our kids, to meet me at the end. And my heart will hurt terribly. And I will surely cry from exhaustion-relief-despair-grief and full on “missing”. For the last time I did a biggish swim across Lake Geneva was in 2011, and we were a family of five living people, not three.

But I think the upsides outweigh the downsides. I will do my very best to complete. To feel “swim satisfied”. Replete. Complete.

And I will count trees that will be planted.
As well as my blessings.

Me after 4 km yesterday morning

If you want to sponsor me, the organisation I have chosen to support is here below. The first link is the primary French-language site. Below it you have a translation into English. Click on the map, find a forest or location you’d like to plant trees in, and select the number of trees you’d like to pay for (approx €3 per tree).


I asked Reforest’Action if there was a way to track what is being donated on behalf of my swim, and there is not. However, if you want me to see who has donated and how much, click on the google doc link here and put in your details.

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