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Andrew Donaldson: The Resilient Long Distance Swimmer and Humanitarian

Written by: Tomas Morgan

Andrew Donaldson, a prominent long-distance swimmer and Guinness Book of World Records holder is a true embodiment of perseverance and dedication. Hailing from the west coast of Scotland, he fell in love with swimming at a young age and aspired to represent Great Britain on the international stage.

Andrew's pursuit of a swimming career took him to Great Britain to train with some of the country's top swimmers. He later moved to Western Australia to prepare for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, hosted in his hometown. Tragically, he suffered a shoulder injury while diving into a sandbar just before the games, costing him a year of training. Despite this setback, he persevered and transitioned into open-water swimming events, participating in 10-kilometer races.

However, by 2016, Andrew had reached a point of burnout with swimming. He drowned himself in his job and the absence of a work-life balance took a toll on him. He felt he had let down many people and had failed in his swimming career. It was during this challenging phase that he discovered his "why" – his beloved grandfather. His grandfather had been a source of inspiration throughout his childhood.

During the Covid-19 Pandemic Andrew took to swimming again and found a way to combine his passion for swimming with a purpose, raising funds for causes close to his heart.

With a desire to make a meaningful impact, Andrew strives to show the unfiltered reality of life through his social media presence. He believes that many people portray only the best aspects of their lives online, and he wants to present a more authentic narrative.

During his swimming journey, Andrew travelled to various countries, including Israel, Palestine, and Ukraine before the war, but it was Colombia in South America that left a lasting impression. He found a unique connection with the people and geography, which is akin to the immersive experience of swimming.

Despite his shoulder injury, Andrew has perfected his swimming form through muscle memory, education, and coaching. He has learned to adapt and overcome obstacles, even when facing challenges like being stuck in a current for hours during a swim. He diligently maintains his stroke rate of 60 strokes per minute and takes short breaks every 20 minutes to rehydrate.

Andrew's resilience was evident during the Catalina Island swim in Los Angeles, which he described as one of the better geographical conditions he had encountered. Battling personal issues and immense pressure, he completed the swim, marking it as his sixth of seven ocean swims.

Looking to the future, Andrew's motivation is rooted in his "why" – the sense of purpose that drives him to make a difference. Money and records do not motivate him; it's the opportunity to positively impact causes he cares about that keeps him going. He dreams of attempting a 24-hour swim to see how far he can push his limits.

Despite being a massive sport worldwide, swimming often goes unnoticed in documentaries and media, a fact that Andrew Donaldson hopes to change in the coming years.

His incredible journey serves as a testament to the power of human determination, reminding us that with a strong "why," we can achieve remarkable feats and inspire others to follow their dreams.

To hear more of Andy's story, listen to episode #201 on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or YouTube.

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