Contradictorily, I'm not a great person for motivational aphorisms, but at the same time I love reading and have a large collection of quotations I like. Many relate to the sea or swimming somehow, and I have a few that I've used a few times on my site.
With the English Channel or any other epic marathon swim, you will be asked "why". Many times this question is asked in a "what is wrong with you that you need to do this kind thing" way. There is rarely an answer that works for those particular people.
We all have both similar, and different answers though. I eventually found an answer that worked for 99% of people. That 99% of people are those who don't do what we do, and the other 1% are endurance athletes, who will not even ask the question, because they already understand. I don't need to ask you why you might be thinking of a marathon swim. You don't need my reasons. So my simple answer became a quotation:
No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.- Socrates
After all, who is going to argue with Socrates?
But that wasn't my motivation.
Another that I use, and have used in advising people about the English Channel is:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Usually incorrectly attributed to Goethe by W.H Murray. You can feel something in those words. You can feel the urge to sprinkle fairy dust over your life, to step outside.
But the English Channel is not just about dreams, it's far more about grind. About swimming day in and day out, on frosty mornings and when you are sore, hungry and tired, and have lost the love of swimming you had.
And on those days, when there was just me, when the rest of the Magnificent Seven were all training down in Cork, when I had no-one to swim with, when my local pool was treating me like dirt, I needed something else. I really did need motivational help. So on my training log and inside my locker I wrote:
This Is the Channel.
Today. Every day. Every metre. Every stroke. And it helped. The reminder was always there. Everyday when I opened the locker and when I entered my metres into the spreadsheet. It is still there on my ongoing training logs. It became part of my swimming ethos. I began to value the bad days more, to enjoy the good days.
And when I was done with the Channel, I fell back on another quotation, written by Philip Larkin and used incorrectly by me, but to me the only way I can really describe the English Channel and my own feelings about it.
A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.