Swimming the Austin English Channel as a tribute to Colin’s life

Jamie Slaughter woke up early on June 13th. He plopped himself into Lake Austin (Colorado River) in Texas then did a light 21 mile swim to finish at the end of the lake. And did basically the length of the English Channel to let the world know about 4-yr Colin Hoist who died of drowning. And, in honor of Colin, to raise awareness regarding water safety and drowning prevention through the non-profit group called “Colin’s Hope”.

Preventing Drowning deaths

Jamie Slaughter swims Austin’s “English Channel” for Colin’s Hope.

Jamie was accompanied by his supporters on kayaks, stand-up paddle boarders and boats to make sure he was safe. Colin took a couple of breaks for a drink of water or a small bite to eat but always made sure that he never held the boat or got out of the water. Colin had a lots to think about especially the day when Jamie was there when Colin drowned.

Since then Jamie and Colin’s father, Jeff Hoist, have joined with dozens of others to form “Colin’s Hope” and sponsor swimming events to continue raise awareness regarding the dangers of drowning especially with children under the age of 5.

One stroke at a time means Jamie is that one small step closer to his goal. In this instance one stroke after the other sent Jamie 21 miles in tribute to the water safety for all children. Thus Jamie is a Swim>U feature and here are Jamie’s reflections regarding this remarkable feat.


Q: Please explain to me how you felt when you made the decision to swim the Austin “English Channel?”

R:  I’ve always enjoyed doing things. I’d prefer to do a thing rather than watch it on television or just read about it. I’ve been athletic my entire life and love competing. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that it really is about the journey. It’s about the climb not just the summit. But, sometimes it is actually about reaching the summit. That doesn’t mean the journey isn’t important, too. It just means sometimes one must risk failure to find out how far one can go. How else do we gain confidence in our abilities, and how else do we learn what we’re capable of achieving?

It also means that upon completion of one goal, one must have another in mind. Failing to do so can lead to a sense of emptiness, and lead to aimless wandering. Thus, after the 2011 Got2Swim (8 miles), which was the longest swim I’d ever done, I was looking for the “next big thing.” It came when Rob Cunningham and Alissa Magrum suggested swimming the entire length of Lake Austin. They were thinking about splitting it into two days, but I missed that part and got super excited by the idea.

One thing led to another and the idea morphed into just me doing it in just one go. From there the details were easy. I would dedicate my attempt to Colin, his friends, family and Colin’s Hope. I’d attempt it in a way to draw attention to the simple vision of living in a world in which children do not drown. Accordingly, my journey developed meaning. It developed a purpose. It became about something much bigger, more important, and enduring than me. As such, I was honored, indeed, I felt privileged, to be a part of the journey I’d created for myself.

Q: How much and how long did you train to prepare?

R: I don’t have my training log hand but in simple numbers I swam 4 to 7 days per week, 5,000 to 8,000 yards per workout. I probably averaged 25-30,000 yards per week for most of the Winter, and stepped it up to about 40-45,000 for a few weeks before the swim.

Q: How did it feel each mile and each hour?

Jamie Slaughter swimming on behalf of Colin's Hope

One stroke at a time, one hope at a time

R: I didn’t really ever notice the time until I got past the 360 Bridge. Up to that point I was really only aware of the night changing to dawn, of dawn to sunrise, and sunrise to day. Physically I was just swimming, and relaxed. Mentally I was counting strokes and doing the “usual” logistical calculations, like sighting, controlling my pace, and thinking about hydration/nutrition. Emotionally…wow! One’s mind can wander after staring face down into, basically, nothing for hours at a time! Joy, sorrow, anger, pride, motivation. I went through them all, most more than once, as I reflected on the loss of Colin, as well as some dear friends who’ve died.

Q: What was the hardest part of the swim?

R: Anticipation, waiting for it to start. I was ready and wanted to do it. I didn’t need more time to prepare. But during the swim, it was the last 4 miles that were the most difficult. Both my body and mind were tired, and I was ready to be done.

Q: What were you thinking about during the 12 hour swim?

R: I joke with my friends who ask me this question, and tell them I’ve never had a complete thought while swimming. I hope this makes sense: I feel about things more than I think about things. Some people sing or talk to themselves, some build great buildings or golf courses, I just count strokes, look forward to my next breath, and let my mind wander.

Q: How did you feel when you started?

R: At 3:00 a.m. the water at the Low Water Crossing is cold, dark, and lonely, but I was confident, pensive, and secure because there were loved ones there with me, and I had a mission, a journey, an adventure, to complete.

Q: What made you continue?

R: I never thought about any other option. I knew there was going to be some pain and suffering, but that is temporary. The reason I was swimming was for eternity.

Q: Did you ever want to quit?

R: No.

Q: How did you feel when you finished?

R: I was thankful for the opportunity and ability to swim solo for 21 miles, and proud knowing I had contributed in some small way to such a noble cause. I was honored to have completed an adventure for something bigger than myself.

Q: How do you feel about this trek being a tribute to Colin’s Hope?

R: As you can tell, the over-arching reasons I swam Dam2Dam were to honor Colin and his family and bring awareness to the world that we, collectively, can prevent children from drowning. I would (will?) do it all over again if it meant making the difference in a child’s life.


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