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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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Photos by Scott Rokis Photography

as a swimmer i like to think that the only truth is entering the water with my hand. the end of the pool, lake or sea is only a dream. the intention to reach that dream is expressed in how i enter my hand. the only truth i know is this moment that provides me the choice to enter my hand, to push forward. i can also choose how to think about that moment. i think that is the magic found in life. the freedom of choice.i cant control the circumstances around me, but i can choose how to respond in my mind. yesterday when the doctor told me i was having a heart attack i felt somes dreams slipping away. it took everything i had to avoid slipping into an abyss of sorrow. i am certain 15 minutes latter when my heart stopped beating and the doctors and nurses were screaming for me to coagh as i was slipping into a dream that choice i had to put my hand in the water and press is what saved my life. now i have a choice of how i want to movr forward and i am grateful. recoverin in ICU. Alive and Extraordinary! ...

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I just opened my shipment from Primal Kitchen. This might be the tastiest energy bar I have ever eaten. ...

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By omission or persuasion I am convinced once pen is put to paper, or a story is told, a lie is in the making. Its human nature and the battle to slay the desire of that dragon who desperately desires to induce the world into his or her perception is alive within us all. Some of us provoke the fight for truth more than others, but none of us are free of the dragon. Conscious or not there will always be an internal battle. Denial of this human nature is sanctimonious. A midst of all of the words that surround our life I’m less concerned with the truth and more with the story teller’s consciousness of the lie.

Words, letters and numbers are only codes that help us understand the world at a human level, they don’t exist beyond ourselves. We can’t avoid our nature, but we can come to realize what waits beyond the limits of our understanding is unfathomable. If we truly seek to find truth we should look beyond what we know—I believe it lives in the unknown.

As I approach my 52nd birthday I decided to sit down and write a few lies. I’m recognizing a shift in my life. If I were to count the numbers I think I’m surrounded by a greater number of younger people than older. It used to be the other way, but the reality of maturity is that the age of “my people” are younger. I’ve lost some friends and family who have passed to the other side. Statistically speaking that kind of loss will increase more than it will decline. I’m a fan of observing nature and what I see says that at this stage in life, regardless of a healthy lifestyle, my health will not improve. I’m truly grateful for my good health and my ability to live as I choose, but now I’m learning to recognize that this too shall pass.

Call it nostalgia, call it whatever, but I want to share this idea. Nature paints a pretty good picture of reality. The older we get the more we lose in the way of friends and family, health and vitality and mentors and icons. It happens and it feels overwhelming at times. Sometimes the loss of what once seemed endless can create great pain to the point of near paralysis. In these kinds of times I find easy to spiral into thoughts of self-pity and helpless meaninglessness. There is one thing I have always loved about a set of particular words somebody once shared with me about overwhelming suffering. In those moments there is a gift, because in every cell of our being we feel what it means to be alive. We don’t need words to understand the feeling of life.

Life has never turned out the way I imagined. Life has become unfathomable, an experience I can never fully understand and I love the truth I find in not knowing. I love the pain, the joy and the adventure in it all and I am so grateful to share the experience with my people.

Helen Keller said it best with a heck of a lot less words.

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

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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.