Catalina Relay: Marathon Swimming Fempire

I am so excited to finally be in California for a swim that I have been looking forward to for over six months. Today at about 5:30PM our team of six swimmers will head out for the starting point of our 40 mile, double crossing relay of Catalina.

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This swim means a lot to me for many reasons. All marathon swims are rewarding and empowering experiences but this one is going to be particularly special because it is a team effort between Seven Sister alums and students. For those of you who are not familiar with the Seven Sisters—it is a collection of women’s colleges that were created to counterbalance the elite, all-male Ivy League. Smith, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, Bryn Mar, Vassar, Barnard and Radcliffe: a collection of incredible institutions who have produced notable alums including Gloria Steinem and Hillary Clinton. As a recent graduate of one of these institutions, I have found myself reflecting a lot on the immense legacy of these places of higher education. I feel so fortunate that I found Smith and am now part of a history of rebellious, strong, intelligent, and passionate women that make-up our alumna networks.

At a recent work event after someone found out that I had graduated from a women’s college, I was asked, “Wasn’t that hard? To only be around girls?” I held back my chuckle to this question which I have been asked too many times, and I answered, “No. It was amazing. I think one of the best things an 18-22 year old woman in the United States could do is spend four years in a space where they are surrounded by tenacious, ambitious, smart, talented, and hard working women.”

I am so grateful and proud to have graduated from Smith College. Smith helped develop me into an intrepid problem-solver, determined goal-setter, and an empowered woman who is ready to affect change in the world. So no, it was not hard to only be around “girls.” It was empowering and life-changing.

It is with this spirit and energy that I look forward to this historic relay that I am about to participate in. If we successfully complete our relay, we will be the first all-female team to do so. My teammates—Rebecca, Ika, Cathleen, Abby, and Charlotte—are a group of amazing athletes and women. We are all doing this relay with a shared love and passion for the sport of marathon swimming but more importantly we share the mission of empowering and encouraging other women to take on their own challenges and accomplish their own goals. It is amazing what women can do when working together.

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Relay mission statement: “As Seven Sisters College students and graduates, we all believe in the power of women supporting women to achieve greatness. The six of us on this relay represent women of different ages, interests and geographical location, bound by a fierce love for challenge and passion for excellence that we developed at our respective colleges. We are embarking on this relay to be an example of empowerment; found when women take on an incredible challenge as a team and work together, and empowerment via paying it forward and being a role model for those who want to dream big and fulfill their own goals.”

I am also very excited to be forging a new relationship with Mpowher Apparel. They are an apparel company that shares the same values and mission as me. Mpowher donates 20% of their proceeds to women’s non-profits and they work to foster a community of empowered, strong women. Check out their amazing apparel and read more about what they are doing here: https://mpowherapparel.com/. Help support the good work that they are doing!

Follow along on my social media for ongoing updates about the relay:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizacummings/?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eliza.cummings?ref=bookmarks

I’ll be posting more on the blog throughout the weekend too!

Thank you to all my teammates, training friends, friends and family for all the love and support you always give me.

“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” -Gloria Steinem

Good thing we’re all fish and all we need is each other.

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