• What’s This About

    While coaching swimming nothing would send the hair on the back of my neck standing more than the words ‘I CAN’T’. My internal scream would send out a louder ‘WHY NOT’. The interaction, the turbulence, provided a direction…head first into the fire. I feared that the ‘I CAN’T’, if not investigated, concretes itself into the safe harbor, the containment, of a lifelong ‘BREAKWALL’. The ‘WHY NOT’ is ‘THE BEYOND’, the battle cry, the direction, the salvaging effort. The metaphor is ageless, human.
    Going ‘BEYOND BREAKWALLS’ is living your life… ‘BBW’ is the encouragement.

    I am dedicating these efforts in support of 'The Brotherhood For The Fallen'

    They represent reverently, modestly, and humbly the individuals who chose a side, planted their heels, and met their final call. They are Hero’s, represented by Hero's. It's an incredible honor.
    Thanks for visiting, that too is an Honor...

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The writing was on the wall..my intuition was right. I heard the bitching in the background; it’s confirmed. This morning’s swim set was a series of 4 X 5 minute sprints, HARD, completely out of the comfort zone and into some sort of forced unwanted ‘discovery zone’. There was no way around this, no scam to dream up, no creative political move to navigate, no place to hide. Believe me I’ve searched. This sucks!


OK then, lets try to wrap our minds around these next 20 minutes. The bitching continued, sides were taking form. ‘Givers and takers’ presented excuses faster than the spring on a mouse trap.


With less than two minutes til we kick off the wall…the bitching got louder, sides got thicker, excuses became more and more creative; almost believable.


I think this particular swimming set was designed intentionally to expose something; the coach’s willingness to weather comments, concerns, sudden descriptions of old injuries, tears, and stone cold ‘hate’ stares will prove itself a gift but at the moment — ‘whatever’.


Nobody wants to go first, nobody wants to lead the lane, the charge. Leading the lane means being exposed and scrutinized. The burden of responsibility weighs heavily on this person to provide an example. Fingers pointing but still no ‘takers’. The bitching continued, and now the slam of slams, the question that gives the spiritually lame a leg to stand on: WHY?


I cringe at the thought of grappling with the ‘WHY’ question. It always leaves me wondering where this person — this human being — has been hiding. It’s frustrating, sad. ‘WHY’ is a question that intuition, time and experience answers on its own terms if you listen. But “whatever” again…


40 seconds until someone, a non designated first person, bites down and goes first. Still the holdouts presented their cases, “takers” recruited to a side of familiar comfort, making the easy sell to maintain their dysfunctional routine and defend their rite to mediocrity. Unbelievably the ‘WHY bomb’ gets tossed around again like a game of Frisbee in a final sad attempt to disrupt progress and strangle momentum.


30 seconds…Pressure; something is about to be exposed. ‘WHY’ was about to be entombed, muffled for the time being. Those quotes from favorite authors that blueprint life’s course, the ‘how to’s’ of being a human being, were about to be squeezed into reality. In a fit of frustration and what looked like fury was a dialogue evolving between a 45yo ‘Master’ swimmer and a Division I university athlete. The apparent problem: nobody wanted lead…


The second hand is approaching the ’60’.  Twenty seconds remaining and ‘time just ticking away’.  There’s pressure for some. Others simply maintain, exist and wait; maintaining those precious comfort zones.  Moments before take off and still no drivers; nobody behind the wheel.


The situation forged a ‘Tony Robbins’ rant session and for the next 20 seconds, an eternity, the “Master” swimmer pressed the Division I athlete for answers…


“If you had only 5 minutes left how would you live your life”?

“You don’t have 4 X 5 minute sprints you only have 5 minutes. Swim one at a time, hard, as if your life depended on it! There is nothing to think about, no blueprinting, all forward, hard. It’s an opportunity to display courage”.


“How would you live your life”? 

The rant continued…

“This is it, your moment..If not now, when? This is not a practice life! I need two words, just two, that would describe how YOU would live YOUR life if YOU had only 5 minutes left”? 


The 45yo took the front position and gave the answer just before kicking off the wall…

“I know exactly how I would do it… I would: KICK ASS!

The Coach smiled..


By coincidence the scene was set in a pool at the University of Illinois during an intense workout in November of 2010, however the same scene could have been replayed in our own backyards, in our own lives. The platform and the characters would change but the messages, challenges, and fears would remain the same.


The opportunity to play any one of the characters and embody an attitude would forever be a possibility if you could muster the courage and choose differently. Change remains possible, hope remains possible, dreams remain possible. If you were inspired maybe even empowered what would be the difference in your life, your world, your journey?


This is the ‘ABOUT ME’ section of the blog. It is not exactly my story, it is our story! The inspiration and motivation to continue on my journey comes directly from moments like the incident I have described. As I press forward through some interesting roadblocks, get sidetracked every once in a while and fall face first on occasion, I somehow regain my footing through whispers of encouragement, being carried sometimes, and reminded constantly that it is “OK”.


A friend of mine whispered in my ear one day when I just had nothing left, my world was rocked and the bottom completely fell through. I was down, up against the ropes, in a permanent state of feeling incarcerated. My knuckles were bleeding from constantly dragging.


This is what he said; “Your down right now, I’m not, so hop on I’ll carry you for a while”. That carried me through a string of moments, one after the other. I recovered four long years later and I am out to return the favor. There is the mission…


ABOUT ME? Not so sure about that. I can’t claim the story as my own. We are in it together. Allow ME at times to “hop on” no questions asked for as long as it takes, no judgments or critics and I will return the favor. Lets not wait any longer, lets move, inspire and empower each other.


Second chances are rare. So do your self a favor and give yourself one…




                     “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the 

                     grave with the song still in them”


                                                   Henry David Thoreau

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  • About Nial

    I fell a few times in the past few years that 'BBW' is a climb back, a rekindling of my Soul. The postings keep me 'tracking' in a passionate direction. I need that, Passion. The other piece that is so important to me, especially at this time in my life, is to somehow share the experience, the attitude, humor, pain... all things human. It's in this place we can relate and in certain moments...carry each other. I need that too.
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  • Swims Completed

    1. English Channel

    2. Strait of Gibraltar

    3. Manhattan Island

    4.Chicago Shoreline

    5. Chicago to Michigan

    6. Catalina Island