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The Sea of Cortez

There is a mystical sensation, a presence, about the Sea of Cortez that I sense is in the form of a living being. Her physical form is outlined at a desert coastline’s barren edges. The stark contrast there reflects the beauty of a desolate land complementing the hues of blues in a deep sea. She is the sea between Baja California and mainland Mexico. From the land’s edge, her crystal blue and turquoise waters span beyond the horizon. The space between the two shores is where she conceals her mystery. It is where she lives as an enigma to me.

I fell in love with her when attempting a six-person relay swim from Baja to the mainland (in May 2010). We abandoned the swim because of jellyfish stings. Leaving that swim left my heart feeling hollow.   It wasn’t because we didn’t make it to the other side—it was because I didn’t show up prepared.  I wasn’t in the shape that I felt would better reflect who I am.  Our first meeting was not a proper introduction.  I wasn’t ready for the Sea.

I returned home and dove into an eighteen month training program.  A program I felt better reflected who I am.   Each day I spent training was motivated by respect for something I wasn’t capable of understanding.  A 79 mile swim in the ocean is easy to talk about and very difficult to do.  Jumping in the water at a beach in Punta Chivato, Baja California Sur, Mexico I began my swim to cross the Sea only to be pulled from the water twenty four hours later.  What I learned about myself in those 24 hours is that I am capable of covering the distance.  What I learned from the Sea is that I can successfully cross her waters, but only if she is willing.

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I am a father of twin, six-year-old boys and I live my life as an example of how I would hope they can one day live theirs. I am a person who lives passionately and believes following one’s passion is the magical formula for a vibrant life. I value people’s dreams and believe having dreams is a source of spiritual strength. As a coach, father, husband and business owner, I strive to nurture passion in people and take every opportunity I can to help others pursue their dreams.

Marathon swimming is one of my passions. Preparing for marathon swims provides me with a quality of clear thought and vitality for life. I thrive in the pursuit. The challenges require focus, confidence and calmness. These qualities ripple through and beyond the waters edges and flow into all realms of my life. Without swimming I simply live, but when I swim I thrive.

In my youth, I was a competitive swimmer and then grew to race as a professional triathlete. In 1993, at the age of 29, I retired from triathlons and started coaching. Eventually I helped develop The Leukemia and Lymphoma Societies’ Team and Training (TNT) Triathlon program. That program was the model for their National Triathlon Program used today.

In Partnership with my close friend Stefan Laursen I also developed a business (Fit2Race- F2R) to serve the product needs of TNT, which include wetsuits and custom cycle clothing. Today F2R is a blossoming company that provides custom clothing for athletes around the world in swimming, cycling and running.

I did not choose the path across the Sea—the path chose me. It inspires me in a way I hope can touch others and inspire them across their Seas.  At the very least I hope to reflect for my boys the power of a strong spirit and a faith in our abilities to dream.

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Alive and Extraordinary

What does it mean to be extraordinary?  I don’t think a single accomplishment, or for that matter a string of accomplishments, can make a person extraordinary.  Yes, there are extraordinary accomplishments written on the pages of history, but were they the accomplishments of extraordinary people? In sports we don’t need to look far to find…

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Between Breaths

I’ve come out of the Wilderness enough to know reentry is strange. It’s strange to hold a conversation with words that have no weight to make worthy a description the Wild encounter deserves. It’s strange to communicate when I’m not exactly sure the impact the experience has had on the person I find myself becoming. I…

todd lieman

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On the Sea of Cortez, Todd’s View

by Todd Lieman, guest blogger & founder of A Day Well Lived A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. William G.T. Shedd I’ve failed to write about my experiences with Swim Cortez for several days. I’ve watched the cursor blink. I’ve even counted the number of blinks per second—a residual…

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SwimCortez: The Swim, A Photo Essay

Photos by Scott Rokis Photography

the slow boat

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After the Swim: The Story

Long before the swim, Pablo had arranged for a big boat that would hold the entire crew. He’d placed a deposit, and things looked good. But that’s when the tropical storm came, holding his original boat “hostage” in La Paz. Pablo scrambled to find a replacement boat, but none were big enough. Instead, he hired…

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Meet the SwimCortez Crew

by Jonah Holland, friend to Pablo, open water swimmer Pablo assembled an amazing crew for his swim: Men and women with just the strengths he would need for an adventure at sea where anything could happen. It was a dream team: the most experienced escort marathon swimmers, medical support, kayakers,  a nutritionist, a photographer.  …

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Alive and Extraordinary!
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Here are the very best videos we've featured on People Are Awesome this year! Huge thanks to everyone who shared their incredible videos with us and to Owl City for the phenomenal track Verge ft. Aloe Blacc

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Lundgren shares the challenges faced swimming in the Sea of Cortez. As the story unfolds we learn of events in his life that led him to embark on his adventure in the wild water of the sea. The story reveals itself with each stroke that pulls Paul further into the heart of the sea where a life threatening storm awaits him and his crew.