Marathon swimmer started swimming at age 31

Posted Ella Villas Articles

I was listening to a recent episode of the Joe Rogan experience on my way to Austin, Texas for the upcoming PaleoFx conference.

Dr. Peter Attia was the guest, and he started with talking about some of his experiences as an open water swimming.

The guy didn’t even start swimming until age 31, and went on to do marathon swims! Amazing and inspiring.

Not that 31 is a ripe old age, but he literally learned how to swim then, before conquering some distances that even experienced distance swimmers would shy away from.

Here’s some stats:

  • Dr. Attia took up swimming at the age of 31 and has since done a number of relay and solo marathon swims,
  • On 11 October 2005, he crossed the Catalina Channel from Santa Catalina Island to the Southern California mainland in 10 hours 34 minutes 51 seconds at the age of 32.
  • In 2008, he completed the first male double crossing of the Auau Channel (Maui Channel), from Maui to Lanai to Maui in 11 hours 45 minutes at the age of 34.
  • In 2008, he swam the widest point of Lake Tahoe from California to Nevada in 7 hours 24 minutes at the age of 34.
  • In 2008, he participated in a relay crossing from Santa Barbara Island to the Southern California mainland.
  • On 8 September 2009, he crossed the Catalina Channel from the Southern California mainland to Santa Catalina Island in 14 hours 8 minutes 8 seconds at the age of 36.

The point is not to tell you that you should be a marathon swimmer. In fact, I don’t think that distance of swimming is healthy for most people, as shoulder injuries are more likely to occur.

Instead, I want to drive home what this represents.

If you’re like most of our followers, you came to us without a swimming background, without any sort of “speed” in the water.

You likely wanted to learn how to befriend the water, and ultimately, get faster without using all your energy.

Dr. Attia’s success came with one small thing at a time.

At first, he wanted to just get from one end of the pool to the other.

Then, 2 lengths in a row.

Then 8, 20, until he could do a workout in the pool. This likely took several months.

But he didn’t start out thinking he would do marathon swims in a few weeks.

He knew he had to aim for tiny victories.

Each of these small victories led to more confidence, and more excitement about swimming, until he was entering longer and longer races.

Step-by-step, he achieved results far beyond what he thought possible as a non-swimmer at age 31.

Maybe for you, speed is not coming as fast as you’d like.

Or maybe you are just not efficient enough in the water to pull off a triathlon and not be exhausted going into the bike.

But like Dr. Attia, if you persist and have non-thrilling break throughs here and there, this will add up to whatever your next level is.

And in the end, when you finish that swim and start heading up the beach, all of this patience and persistence will be worth it x1000!

You can watch the end of Dr. Attia’s swim from Catalina to the coast of California (21 miles) here.

Stay inspired!