240 swimmers enjoyed a new edition of the Vuelta a Formentera swimming against Cystic Fibrosis, marked by a strong wind and some other jellyfish.
18 editions made since the year 2000. Each one with its peculiarities, but all with a common characteristic: the human quality of the group formed by swimmers and volunteers.
The spirit Respiralia breathes since the swimmer sets foot in Formentera, even those who come for the first time already intuit that this is not an event like the others. Older people know that they will spend 4 days away from the usual amenities like a good bed or a good shower. In 2017 200 people were going to sleep, side by side on old mattresses … so what? Not a complaint, no reproach, only words of emotion for having achieved a place in Respiralia 2017. They knew that they were waiting for them 3 days ahead in which there were forecasted strong winds and a rough sea … and what? The illusion left no room for disappointment.
It was time to start giving the first strokes for children and young people with Cystic Fibrosis. It was Thursday and they still had not touched the water of the sea. They were in the stands of the sports center where they went to sleep, in front of a screen. At that time they saw a video in which Dani, a young man with Cystic Fibrosis, would explain to them what this disease is and how he takes it. In addition, he would personally appreciate they being there for him and for all others who have the disease: “Each stroke of yours helps me breathe.” The “novices” already began to feel that they were not going to swim for swimming, but to swim for a very different purpose: solidarity. They were entrusted with the task of being ambassadors of the Foundation, of being spokespersons for a group that needs to be heard and of a disease that needs to be told to the whole society to discover those cases that have not yet been diagnosed.
After the part of sensitization with our cause came the part of the explanation of the event. Carlos Pons explained to them what they could and should do and, above all, what they should not do. After this talk, it was time for the video of last edition, produced by Películas Suecas. Our volunteers are the stars. Edu Pampin, the director of the report, wanted to give visibility to the hard work they do so that swimmers can safely swim.
To put the cherry to the presentation of the event, the new spot of the Respiralia Foundation was shown as a premier. It was made by Películas Suecas and starred by two participants and her female Rugby team. Simply shocking.
It was Friday morning. It was early. We had to see how the sea was. The wind was blowing very hard and changing, so the height of the waves presaged a hard day at sea. It did not matter, they were in Respiralia and they knew that the organization would do everything possible so they could swim safely. At 10:00 they arrived at Es Cavall d’en Borràs beach, the starting point of this 18th edition. Tension was felt there. Everyone wanted to count down from 10 to 1 to shout RESPIRALIA together and enter the water running and swim towards Captain Jack, the boat that would accompany them in this adventure. Two of our sponsors, Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Linde Healthcare, represented by its Managing Director and its Medical Director respectively, gave the start. Once in the boat, they went to the northeast of the island to find a sheltered place where the waves allowed to swim safely. The conditions did not allow the participants to swim much, but it did not matter. The atmosphere of fellowship and solidarity was such that swimming would pass to a second plane. After some dizziness and, especially, a lot of partying on the boat, this first day at sea ended with the entry of Captain Jack in the port. It was time to have dinner together. The cooks and catering crew had worked all day, first to serve 300 servings of pasta salad for lunch and a meat dish with sauce for dinner. It was necessary to recover strength for the day of Saturday. After the dinner, the 50% of an inscription for Respiralia 2018 was made, and then a party to end the day.
On Saturday, in the first hour, the beach of the Western part of the island (Mitjorn) was waiting for us with a calm sea, inviting the participants to run many kilometers practicing the sport that they like. It was not easy to leave the port with the boats because of the strong waves coming from North, but it had to be done. The swimmers deserved to be able to relieve themselves after a first day with few kilometers swum. Turning the Cap de Barberia, swimmers saw that they could burn their adrenaline in those crystalline and calm waters. In the afternoon, his watches marked more than 10 kilometers traveled. Objective fulfilled. At dinner, they were tired but happy.
Sunday, as always, would be a special day. All the teams already finished the details of the choreographies that they would perform after swimming 3.5 kilometers in Cala Saona. The party was about to begin. At 1:00 pm the swimmers arrived at Es Cavall d’en Borràs beach. Scattered groups were formed, each of them doing the last test. At 1:30 pm, with a human corridor in the water as a stage, the first choreography began. It was the moment when more than one gets a knot in the throat and the tear drops with emotion. It is certainly one of the most beautiful moments. Children and young people with Cystic Fibrosis should experience this experience at least once. 238 swimmers wanted to send a message of support to Alberto and Alvaro, also participants, and to all families with children with Cystic Fibrosis. It was a sincere and warmful support that invites to think already in the new edition of Respiralia. It had been worth so much human effort just to live that moment. We only have to thank for that message, for that feeling transmitted through these choreographies and through the comments of praise to the work we do every day at the Respiralia Foundation.
As already said on the beach, next year we will try to do better, but not with more passion because it is impossible.