Bay dad fights through pain to finish marathon swim
AS THE pain engulfed him, Lars Olsen yelled underwater, urging himself to keep swimming.
The Hervey Bay man was completing his childhood dream of swimming around Great Keppel Island.
At a distance of 20km, it was never going to be easy.
Just 500 metres into the swim, he felt sharp pains in his right arm.
Then the lower left side of his back started aching.
The father of five didn't know if he'd make 3km, let alone 20.
Mr Olsen lined up for the second annual Swim Around Keppel and went through all his normal preparation.
"We started on the edge of the beach and with a short countdown we were underway," he said.
Five kilometres into the swim, the pain hadn't eased.
"I was using a considerable amount of mental focus to hold my stroke together," he said.
"I had no real idea of where I was placed, just that I knew there was a swimmer ahead and one to my left and one to my right."
At 8.5km, he hit a dark patch mentally while swimming against the tide.
"Somehow inside I knew that this wasn't the swimming that was hurting but the accumulation of everything built up since the beginning of the year - my role as a husband, father, moving business, COVID, trying to train for this swim," he said.
"I had to make a decision.
"Let the pain consume me and stop.
"No one would blame me, I would have given it my best shot.
"Or to just let it all go, float away with the currents.
"I chose the later and it was one of those experiences that was life-changing."
When he hit 12km, the pain eased and he knew he would make it.
"Once I had made that conscious decision the kilometres ticked by and before I knew it I had crossed the two yellow buoys to finish my first ever marathon swim," he said.
Mr Olsen had come second among the male competitors and third overall.
"The old me would have been excited that I placed so highly, but after the experience and connection that I felt, the result didn't matter in the same way as the experience mattered," he said.