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KEEPING US DOINIT

Dave has a project called Expedition1000. 25 journeys of 1000 miles or more, each one using a different form of non-motorised transport. The aim is to raise £1 million for the breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel and, quite simply, be happy. He has just completed the 7th journey of the project, a 1001 mile swim down the Lower Missouri River, from Chamberlain South Dakota to St Louis, Missouri. When he jumped into the Missouri for the first time he hadn't swum more than 300 metres in one go in his life. He most certainly was not a swimmer. Keep up with Dave here: www.davecornthwaite.com

TALKINIT with:

DAVE

CORNTHWAITE

Dave Cornthwaite was once a miserable graphic designer. Then he decided to be happy. Now Dave is a record-breaking adventurer, imagineer, motivational speaker and author of three books, BoardFree, Date and Life in the Slow Lane.

 

Dave says...

My previous journeys have included a 3618 mile skateboard trip across Australia, a 1500 mile kayak paddle down Australia's Murray River, a 1400 mile tandem ride (in 14 days) from Vancouver to Vegas, a 2404 mile descent of the Mississippi River by Stand Up Paddleboard, a 3000 mile Pacific sail from Mexico to Hawaii and a 1000.3 mile journey by Bikecar (4 wheel bike) from Memphis to Miami.

 

Last year I was adamant that I'd never do a swimming journey because I didn't think I'd see anything, and then my Mum got me some swimming goggles for Christmas and my mind started to change. I love taking the smallest seed and turning it into something incredible. 8 months later I was setting off on one of the longest swims in history.

 

First up, I had to learn how to swim. I started off with a healthy doggy paddle and then slowly did 1-minute, then 2-minute sessions of breast stroke, backstroke and front crawl. My breathing was awful at the beginning, as was my fitness. I came up coughing and spluttering after 30 seconds. Then, after 4 days of swimming, I was covering up to 12 miles in a day, with NO current, at the same time as pulling my gear on a raft.

 

The top 180 miles were in a lake system and 125 of them were without current. It took half of the expedition's allotted time to cover those 180 miles, and the other half to do the remaining 820 once we were below the dams and into flowing river. Despite the aid of current, I spent between 9 and 12 hours in the water every day for the 58 day journey.

 

It was the biggest challenge I've ever faced. Even when my fitness was at its peak I struggled to eat enough to replace the 7000 calories I burned each day so my weight quickly plummeted. I ate protein bars, pasta, energy supplements, beef jerky and about three Nakd bars a day.

 

I'm used to travelling long distances slowly, but being so low in the water and so limited in my acceleration, even one mile of swimming is daunting. 1000 was an enormous obstacle to overcome in my mind so I broke it down into hours, days, weeks. Eventually, if you keep going, you get there.I loved being immersed day-in, day-out. It wasn't fun pulling on a wetsuit each morning still cold and wet from the night before, mist rising off the river because the temperature was so cold. Towards the end of the journey I was on the brink of hypothermia a couple of times, which really saps your energy and made it difficult to prepare for the next day.

 

Sometimes submerged logs, or deadheads, would linger beneath the river's surface without showing themselves. I hit seven deadheads as I swam, anywhere from my stomach to my feet. It was a shock each time, knowing that one badly placed, sharp piece of wood could tear me open. I swam with trepidation after each collision but stuck to the deeper river channel and just kept on going.

Sometimes submerged logs, or deadheads, would linger beneath the river's surface without showing themselves. I hit seven deadheads as I swam, anywhere from my stomach to my feet. It was a shock each time, knowing that one badly placed, sharp piece of wood could tear me open. I swam with trepidation after each collision but stuck to the deeper river channel and just kept on going.

 

My motivation comes from doing what I love. I was once a very bad graphic designer who worked simply for the money, but I got no satisfaction from that and could feel my life slipping away. I couldn't imagine doing anything other than what I do now, I chased my dream and now it's within my grasp. I have so much variety in my life and this is complimented with each new journey and challenge. I have made a habit of saying yes more, that's the simple key.

 

My friend Kris Hallenga was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 23. She'd been misdiagnosed twice in the year leading up to that and by the time they caught the cancer she was at stage 4. There is no stage 5. Kris was furious but wanted to use her experiences to help others catch their breast cancer before it was too late. Her message became the charity CoppaFeel!, and their creative way of raising awareness amongst young people has already saved several lives. Whatever struggles I have on my journeys, none compare to what Kris and other breast cancer sufferers have been through.

 

I usually travel solo but on this journey I decided I wanted a team alongside to help boost our fundraising potential. I also wanted to open up my adventures to others. Everyone had a role and they all paddled the full distance on Lakeshore Stand Up Paddleboards and in a Mad River Canoe. We were all novices. I wasn't a swimmer, my team had never paddled before, but we made it.I've decided not to return to the UK after this adventure. Having completed 5 expeditions in the last 16 months I'm taking half a year off to rest, recuperate and write. I'm also going to be travelling for three months in the States with my new speaking tour, Say Yes More, before taking the lecture series around the world.

 

I'm excited for the future. Physically I'm exhausted but now, more than ever, I know I can achieve anything if I want to. I'm charged about certain issues, like our modern-day obsession with money and fame, our horrendous throwaway society which leads to so many environmental issues like plastics accumulating in our oceans. I'm determined to use my story to help people who aren't living a happy life to work out how they should be spending their time, because a happier person will look after their own little corner of the planet. If we all do that the world will be a much better place.

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