martedì 18 gennaio 2011

Swimming in the seas of the globe, 3rd leg

We are less than ten days (January 30, 2011) away from the 3rd leg of my "Swimming in the seas of the globe" adventure: I will soon take part in the fiftieth edition of the legendary water marathon "Santa Fe – Coronda", 57 km along the Rio Paranà.
The race will be characterized by many obstacles and will be very difficult to swim: the Santa Fe - Coronda has always been famous as one of the most challenging competitions in the world: some say that swimming in those muddy waters clay gives the athletes the impression they are floating in ink, while uneven currents make it very hard to keep the direction, often forcing them to raise their heads. Just crossing the finish line is in itself a victory.
At the same time it is also considered one of the most fascinating and prestigious competitions in the circuit, with a vast attendance of tens of thousands of people who watch the race along the banks of the river, bridges and on boats, cheering as if they were in a stadium.
After about twenty kilometers the river narrows and you enter into a canal, about two kilometers long, where there is no current, the effort becomes enormous and the never ending cheering of the audience sitting on the bank infuses so much energy, it allows the athletes to overcome one of the most difficult moments of the race.
The Santa Fe - Coronda is also a beautiful and picturesque folk event, where at lunch time the the smoke of the ovens on the boats and on the shore is soon replaced by the scent of the famous empanadas.
Just when I imagine and write about this experience, the doubt of not making it and the thought of facing such an effort makes me feel helpless. Soon, however, the desire to prove myself over every fear gives me all the strenght I need to face this latest challenge.
This race has a special meaning for me, an almost symbolic one: the difficulties and the focus that is needed to overcome them, the enthusiasm and the crucial support of the crowd, is somehow a metaphor of my life, and perhaps of the life of every disabled person. The hours I spend swimming every day, mostly by myself, go beyond the physical preparation and give me the ability to think and reflect, to be with my inner self like never before. It is an experience that deeply influences my life and that keeps me aware of one specific need: to always share with others every challenge and every joy. I am now convinced that teamwork and participation are the only means to defeat all forms of exclusion and loneliness.
Talking about the difficulties of disabled people with ever growing energy, is the only way to improve our society. This is what I did and I always found caring listeneres, who were eager to help. I must therefore thank Diego Degano, chairman of the Santa Fe - Coronda: with his help I can once again lend a hand to show the world the state of marginalization faced by the hundreds of millions of people with disabilities, (600million according to UN figures).
Our country is a strange one: very advanced in its laws and rules, especially at a local level, but at the same time very distracted in everyday life and full of people who are always ready to park in a reserved space or to block a slide on the sidewalk. I am now convinced that we could simply talk to these people, get them involved and help them understand.
I started my battle with much emphasis on the issue of providing prosthetic aids: scientific research is our friend, the legislator, in this case, obviously is'nt. It is a missed opportunity because a country that doesn't invest in the welfare of all its citizens is a country that has no future. That's why I will never give up my hope, I will never stop fighting, I will never stop swimming.

Salvatore Cimmino

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