I am sorry that as a woman with a disability I exceeded your expectation of me. I did not mean to offend you.
I am also sorry that after you (the head of the North West Open Water Swim Association) decided you would not support me with a 33 km swim across Juan de Fuca Strait in 11C water that I did it anyway. I did not mean to achieve something you did not or upset you when I did.
And I am sorry that I asked your friend at the Marathon Swimmers Federation to include my achievement amongst the others. I now know that I require both of your permission and support if I am ever to achieve anything.
I am sorry that someone submitted my name to the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame for my 20+ marathon swims and for the work I have done to help others with disabilities. He likely did not know I did not fit your criteria.
I am also sorry that I have not yet taken you up on your challenge to find another non-disability centric (your words) sporting hall that has more than 4% of its inductees living with disabilities (data based on your letter to me) . I suspect most would not see 4% disability inclusion as a passing grade when we are 25% of the population. If you don’t mind me suggesting, in the most humblest way, it may not be a good idea to say that you are an able-bodied centric organization. You may find yourself in a bit of a pickle with the Human Rights organizations. Think of it like this, would you ever say you were a white-centric organization?
And I am sorry that you are so angry at me for asking questions, raising issues and identifying discrepancies, and that you never wish to discuss these matters again. You are right, I should open my eyes. As you suggested in your letter to me, I am ill-informed.
I am sorry that I did not understand that because many of my swims are “first know” that I would not qualify for induction. I was unaware that pioneering was not considered part of the history of marathon swimming or that these swims were not inspiring. That was very presumptuous of me.
I am also sorry I did not realize that the Hall’s selection committee placed more emphasis on the reputation of a body of water rather than the body of water it self. I made the mistake of assuming you were working from facts.
And I am sorry that I did not realize that you would not check or have to check your own website for facts before sending me your letter.
I am sorry that I misunderstood your definition of International. I assumed you meant it included swimmers from around the world. I did not realize it meant that I had to swim around the world.
I am also sorry that I did not understand that I would have to complete 10 more epic swims in addition to the 20+ I have already completed. I did not understand the people with disabilities would be required to swim more than those without.
And I am truly sorry I can not afford to $100,000+ it would cost to do the swims required to qualify for consideration for induction into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. I should have tried to earn and save more money. I will be sure to let me friends in the community know that all though they earn far less than able-bodied people, and many are living below the poverty line, you will hold them to the same criteria as people without disabilities as part of how you work to include us in your organization.
Marathon Swimmer, Woman with a Disability
The following has been written in response to a letter I received from the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as well has my interactions with SOME of the leaders in the marathon swim community. I recognize that there are many good people in the community who are doing wonderful things. Sadly, in my situation, a few men in a position of power have over shadowed much of that through exclusion by design.
To the able bodied men who stand beside me, thank you. You are a part of an inclusive future. I respect you for stepping up and out and am grateful.
To those who have been honored by the IMSHOF my comments are in no way meant to take away from anything you have achieved. I tip my cap to you in honor of your achievements and thank you for inspiring me to be better every day.
To all girls and women and people living with disabilities, if you have been excluded by design, or belittled or bullied for daring to express you have been excluded, know you are of value and loved.
If you are being bullied, please reach out to someone in your community or google “bullying + hotlines + your city”.