I would like to start this post by saying that I try not to listen to the negative things some people say. But I came across something that really rubbed me the wrong way this evening. Maybe I'm a little cranky because my group's afternoon swim got the ole "Montana Spring Surprise" and we were rushed out of the lake by a thunderstorm that moved in at the middle of our swim. But regardless....I had to address this. I'm going to get this off my chest and that's the last I will speak about it.
I like to see how far articles on my swims go. The Beacon's article was picked up by the AP, so it's traveled aways. I was happy to see a link that it was reprinted on the GolakeChelan.com site. What I was not happy to see was the following:
We posted this story a day ago, and then pulled it a few hours later, when we were questioned about the accuracy of our writing. In particular we were challenged about the veracity of the phrase "First Woman to Swim the Length of Lake Chelan."The argument was made that to be more correct, we would be better to identify Emily as the "The First Woman to Swim From Stehekin to Chelan" since Emily's 2011 ordeal on Lake Chelan started at the Stehekin Landing and terminated at the edge of Chelan city limits near Rocky Point; but didn't end a few more miles downlake at the City Marina or perhaps some other landmark such as the old Chelan Bridge, denoting the geographic 'end of the lake."Now, one important point I'd like to emphasize....I absolutely love the folks at GoLakeChelan, they were great supporters of A Lakke for Katelyn, both before and after and I think they represent the spirit of the Chelan area residents, people I have found to be extraordinarily generous and supportive, even to perfect strangers.
I'd also like to emphasize that I LOVE that the folks at GoLakeChelan are continuing to "follow" me.
What irks me is that someone would write into this news group and question the accuracy of the statement that I was the "first woman to swim the length of Lake Chelan." Well, I guess I would clarify that I was the first PERSON to swim the length of Lake Chelan. I see nothing wrong with that statement. I got in the water at Stehekin (the northern part of the lake) and swam my little heart out for 36 hours only to exit within the city limits of Lake Chelan.
Who in the world would claim that because I did not end at a certain "geographic end of the lake" or a certain landmark, that I thus could not claim to be the first person to swim the lake? Well, I will tell you who, Mr. Cranky Pants. I do not know Mr. Cranky Pants' real identity, although I'd love to meet him he sounds like a charming gentleman, I certainly know the type. Mr. Cranky Pants hides behind the protection of the computer screen, he's an anonymous blogger and a know it all. I can also tell you one thing he is not, an optimist or an athlete.
Because I think that this is a good "teaching moment," and because I know I have a number of kids who look up to me, I'd like to address this. You don't have to accept another person's negativity. Some people who are scared to push themselves or try amazing things feel threatened by those who reach for the "unreachable." A friend of mine growing up (Krista) had a blog I followed for a while and she would draft letters to random people who made her mad as a way of dealing with minor irritants. I like that tactic...so Mr. Cranky Pants, I have drafted the following letter to you:
Dearest Mr. Cranky Pants,
Thank you for your interest in preserving the integrity of journalism. You must have a great deal of free time. I would invite you to research lake swimmers, particularly those that swim distances greater than 30 miles and those who swim for longer than 24 hour periods. I can tell you they are far more rare than ironman athletes and also more rare than ultra-distance marathon runners (100 plus mile races). I'd also encourage you to research into other attempts to swim Lake Chelan (there was one man who tried unsuccessfully several times-in fact I believe he made it less than 10 miles). And then there is me. You don't believe I swam the whole lake. But you don't have to believe it, because I lived it and I know it is true. I swam that lake and no one else has done that before. I invite you to try it. Until you have swam the length of the lake, until you have been bashed by the angry waves for two nights in a row, until you have gone for a period of greater than 24 hours with numb fingers and toes due to the coldness of the water...I take your criticism with the tiniest grain of salt.
Folks like you are what's wrong with the world. Those who try to break down the good, those who try to tarnish great endeavors. But here's a little secret, you can't break me down...I'm stronger than you. I've heard all sorts of things from your relatives, Ms. Negative Nelly and Ms. Debbie Downer...things like that it was cheating to wear a wetsuit or that I should have raised money for a different cause. They couldn't break me down and neither can you...I'm stronger than you.
My mom and dad raised me to follow this simple principle: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Why be the person who tries to make someone feel worse? Why does it effect you in any way that a news group refers to my swim a way in which you disagree? Seriously?
Mr. Cranky Pants, I would challenge you to bring some good into a world that already has enough negativity. Instead of offering your criticism, why not throw your time and energy into volunteer work, or raising money for a noble cause. Or maybe you could make a donation to the Enduring Waves Foundation and help us raise money for Carter.
Emily von Jentzen
First Person to Swim Lake Chelan