Just Keep Swimming

By Erika Pedersen

Day 63/626

I did something different with my training over the weekend. My fiance, Jeremy took me out for a dive, to teach my how to dive properly (freediving that is). HAHA I was so scared! It literally took me 15 minutes to get into the water and follow Jeremy around. Once I was in the water, I freaked out and started hyperventilating. I calmed myself down and just cruised along the surface, sticking very close to Jeremy. I didnt really dive down as much as I wanted to as I didnt have a weight belt and I'll be honest, I was scared like hell! LOL It was fun though, and it has given me more reason to get back out there and get over my fear. The ocean is a scary world, but also a very beautiful one that I would love to come to appreciate.

So the last few weeks were hard, to say the least.
I've struggled with my own mental health and didnt know how to talk about it or deal with it. I felt like I had a massive weight on my shoulders and chest just weighing me down. I had no idea how or why I was feeling like this, but I guess this is what Mental Health is right?
I ended up purchasing some 'Natural' St Johns Wort pill, and they have helped alot!

I ended up talking to my close friends and family and also reaching out to friends who I didnt talk to everyday. I found it helped talking to someone I dont usually talk to everyday even if i didn't know how to talk about it. I just let whatever was on my mind flow out, even if it didn't make much sense to anyone else. It made sense to me, and thats all that mattered. Sometimes you may not actually need or want advice, sometimes its just about having someone there to just listen to you and then to give you a big hug afterwards.

I realised that I had too much of a high expectation on myself, I set my expectation as high as I did when I was racing at Nationals 6 years ago. I had been given some advice from a friend who told me that theres no need for high expectations, its the fact I'm doing something I love (swimming) but applying it to raisng money that has now become a charity that is so dear to me.

Im talking about this, because it is OK to not be OK. But its also OK to talk about it, and thats what I encourage everyone to do.
Turn to your family members, your friends, your neighbours, anybody and just listen to eachother. Talk about anything and everything. Speak whats on your mind and I guarantee you, you'll feel alot better than you did 5 minutes ago.

Even if you would like to talk to me or just have me there to listen, I am always here. Feel free to flick me an email, a message on my facebook or even a message on my instagram page. I'll be there for you :)

Its OK to not be OK
But it's also OK to talk about it.

Day 56/626

Its been a while since I have written about this journey, although theres was no point in me updating everyone when I wasn't doing anything.
I ended up pushing myself too hard and resulted in a chest infection.

But we're back into it this week! And I'm so excited to start making waves and progress.
I've decided to cut down a little bit on training and focus on swim training at least twice a week, and gym twice a week as I need to start taking care of my health. Nothing is going to improve if I dont take care of myself.

If anyone would like to follow my journey on my Instagram, go and follow @erikasswim, and if you have any tips on how to overcome and improve fear, increased motivation, stress and anything that can really just help me whether its mental or physical, then dont be shy to flick me a message. It would be very much appreciated.

Day 35/626

Another week down, and to say the least I've struggled.
I've struggled with my own motivation.
I've struggled with the mental side of it all and also the physical side.
I've struggled getting out of bed in the mornings.
I've struggled with a few things.

But I also understand.
I understand mental health.
I undertsand we all handle things differently, I also understand there is no scale of mental health.
Mental health is Mental health.

I knew this challenge would be mentally and physically challenging, but no one could tell me or prepare me for how mentally and physically challenging it ACTUALLY is.
I can go on and on about it, I really could. But even me going on about how hard and challenging it is, no one really knows until they go through it themselves.

So yes. I understand.
And this is exactly why I'm doing what I'm doing.
To show that it IS OK to talk about it, it is OK to feel how you feel. But I'm also doing this to show that anyone can overcome this. You just have to believe in yourself.


Day 28/626

Another week down, Its been a hard week, mentally. Especially having it just been long weekend. Who wants to do ANYTHING on their long weekend? I would have loved to just relax and not do anything lol. But i did get in the pool, after much debate with myself.
And it was great! I smashed out 2.4km in 50mins, which is a massive improvement from before when i was swimming 2km in an hour. Super impressed with myself for that. It may seem like a little achievement to some, but to me every little improvment is massive. I did get out of the pool after 50 minutes, I would have loved to go a bit longer but my shoulder was telling me to stop. And if I'm going to successfully do this swim, I need to be listening to my body.
My next session I'll be trying for 3km in an hour.

In my next session, I have a few things to work on, as i have been liasing with a couple of coaches (one of my old coaches from Rotorua, and a Napier swim coach). They have both given me a few pointers, especially with my entry/exit on my strokes to get me just that little bit further. So I'll be applying them to my sessions.

Aside from the swim/excerise itself, this journey already has been a self discovery especially pushing through mental barriers. I knew this whole journey would be hard mentally and physically (more mentally) but I never knew actually how hard it would be on the scale of things this early into the piece.

I mean, I can do it. I know I can.
Its just bloody hard lol

Luckily swimming is my happy place :)

Day 21/626

Another week pretty much done (yes sorry i post these blogs half way through my week lol).
This week was tough though, both physically and mentally. My body has been hating on me for diving in too hard, too fast and too soon. So I have taken a slow approach to this while my body adjusts.

It has ALOT to adjust to, not only have i just started swimming again, but i've also stopped smoking after 5 years, I've started eating healthy, and im also going to the gym. So alot of changes is happening within my physical and mental state. Naturally, these next few weeks are going to be challenging anyway.

But with the right mindset and support, im sure i'll be sweet as :)

Day 14/626

I thought I would just do an update once a week until my swim, as im pretty rubbish at writing/blogging.

I'm well and truly into my 2nd week, and im feeling good! Tired, but good. Half way through Week 1, I was having troubles with my shoulder with the exit of the strokes, very painful. (Ive been suffering from a shoulder injury for 6 years, but im pushing through to build up my muscles and strength). Some pain killers, massages and some rest did me good.
I had also been in contact with one of my old Swim coaches, he's given me a few pointers in my rotation, entry and exit (strokes). It's suppose to stop me from using my shoulder as much when rotating for that entry/exit stroke. So instead of using my shoulders in the overarm movement, i need to be using my full body rotation to pretty much throw my arms over. This is where alot of abdomonal and kick work will come in. So we will see how that goes.

At this stage I am dedicating my mornings to swim training (in the pool at the moment until my fitness increases and the weather gets better lol), afternoons are usually gym sessions or running.

Ive listened to a few podcasts to keep myself movitated, another good one to listen to was The Effortless Swimming with Kim Chambers. Shes an incredible woman who went from being told she would never be able to walk again to learning how to swim and swimming the greatest, most dangerous swim in the world - From Faralon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge. She also has a netflix documenary about that exact swim, I reccommend anybody and everybody to watch that if they're ever feeling unmotivated, or feeling like they can't do anything.
Cause i bet you, whatever it is you keep saying to yourself you cannot do, i guarantee you you wont be able to.
The moment you start telling yourself 'you can do this' or you can accomplish that, then believe me - you CAN do it.

Anyway, that's all for now. Im off to the gym :)

Day 1/626

Well, what a mission to get out of bed on the first day of training.
Cold & tired (from a full weekends bush trip), I climbed out of my warm bed, chucked on my togs, grabbed my bags and lunch and i was out the door.

On my way to work I remembered, a friend of mine told me to listen to a podcast that featured Joe Rogan and David Goggins. So i found it, put my headphones in and away i went. Drove to the pools, listened to the podcast, I swear thats going to be my new thing to listen to. So motivating! And boy did i need the movitivation this AM.

I got to the pool, waited in my car for a bit then doubts ran through my mind like 'what the hell have i gotten myself into?' 'i cant swim the Cook Strait'... then I remembered what my fiance said to me 'dont think about the big swim, focus all your energy into training and by the time the big swim comes around youll be right'. And you know what, he's right. Ill worry about the big swim later, for now I'll train as hard as I can for as long as I can.

So i got out of my car and into the pools i went.
Put my bags down, stripped off into my togs and dove into the pool.

2km down in an hour! Tomorrow I'll be pushing for 3km in an hour and a half.

If i can keep smash out 2km in an hour (with stops) then SURELY i can smash out 3km in an hour (with no stops).

Day 1 down, 625 to go...

I'm fundraising for mental health and wellbeing

Sometime in the summer of 2021 I will be taking on and attempting the biggest challenge I have ever done or thought of.. Swim the Cook Strait, from Ohau Point, Wellington to Perano Head, Marlborough.

My name is Erika Pedersen-Whale, I am 22yrs of age. I was a competitive swimmer, but only in the pool. That ended several years ago due to a shoulder injury. Who knew a few years later I'd be getting back into it again, but not to race this time. This time, I will be training every single day to accomplish something so mentally and physically challenging.
The biggest challenge for me in this event is to get over my mental fear of the Ocean and conquer one of the greatest swims in the world. But this isn't just for me, this is so Kiwis can enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing and feel supported during difficult times.

Myself, like many of our communities who have been through and are currently going through Mental Health, we as individuals feel a sense of hopelessness and that our greatest goals and desires are just from arms reach.
I'm swimming the straight to show that there is hope and there are other people who are suffering. But together we can break the silence and show that we all have strength within us.
The swim itself is 26km (the equivalent to swimming 1040 lengths in a 25m pool) depending on weather conditions and tides. I will be accompanied by my support crew and skilled team, lead by the great Philip Rush.
The swim will be tracked for anyone wanting to follow me on this journey.
Link will be posted on the day.
More updates soon, on the exact day of the swim. (As we have to go with tide times etc).


Your donation will help the Mental Health Foundation of NZ provide individuals, workplaces, schools and communities with the tools they need to build positive mental health and wellbeing. I want to raise $1,000000.00 over the next 2 years while I train for the biggest swim of my life, so please donate to me today! Every little bit counts!

Thank you to my Supporters



Keep up the good work!


Shona Churchill

Aha my favourite 22 year old niece! Good on you honey. Personally I think you have rocks in your head, but what a great cause! And I know you can do it. Whales swim along the east coast every year hahahahahaha


Maria Lagas

Oh my gosh girl! This is amazing!! Good on you!! I’ll start it off 😂