So the other day I was in the library researching people who have sailed around the world solo for a novel I’m writing. One of the characters in my book has a crippling fear of the ocean and I wanted to find out about the other kind of people, those who don’t have a fear of the ocean, for comparison. That’s when I came across the cutest little book by Lynne Cox: Grayson.
I checked out the inside flap and found out that Lynne Cox is a long distance swimmer who was only 17 years old when she was training (alone) in the ocean off the California coast near Los Angeles. That fact alone got my attention. She was swimming for miles in the ocean in 55-degree water all by herself! Who does that?
Then she felt the presence of something huge swimming underneath her and, instead of sprinting towards shore, she just told her self to “refocus” and stick with her training program. Ok, I’d have been out of there. Actually, who am I kidding? I’d never have been in the ocean alone in the first place. As you can tell, I share a fear of the ocean with the character in my novel.
So, the big thing swimming under her turned out to be a gray whale and its calf swimming up the coast to Alaska. But the baby whale got separated from its mother and started to follow Lynne on her swim, even after she turned around to swim back home. This was bad because the baby whale depended on its mother for milk and protection and could die without her. The baby whale just wanted to play with Lynne and got close enough that she was able to touch it. For the next several hours, Lynne swam with the baby whale out to the oil derricks near Long Beach and along the coast, in order to help it find its mother. She dove through kelp and saw all sorts of other sea life that make me shiver while sitting here in my desk chair: stingrays, tuna, turtles, anchovies.
I won’t ruin the ending, but lets just say things turned out well and Lynne obviously lived to tell about it. Lynne Cox is very inspiring and brave. I could never do what she does, but I loved reading her story. And that’s why I’m thankful for brave people like her.