Jonathan Shaw / LinkedIn

Jonathan Shaw, CEO at Retail Marketing Ltd, on Thursday looked back on his latest challenge, a 37-kilometre swim around Gozo.

The swim, hosted by Ocean Festival, took place on 1st July 2024 and was Malta’s first ultra-distance open water event. Starting from Ħondoq ir-Rummien, it saw swimmers swim around Gozo clockwise.

Mr Shaw announced his participation in the event a few months ago, stating that the journey to be ready for the challenge, involving recovering from ankle injuries and surgery, allowed him to discover his inner resilience and determination.

In his latest post, three days after completing the challenge, Mr Shaw remarked that at the end of the day, preparation is essential, but no matter how meticulously one plans, “unexpected hurdles will arise.”

“I had my fair share in the last four weeks, but that’s life. Yet approaching this big swim with the right mindset proved crucial; ‘It is what it is and everything will be ok,’” he said.

He pointed out that a good and at the same time bad part of such a long swim is that an individual ends up spending a lot of time alone.

“Lots of time where your mind can wander in dark places you’ve never been before,” Mr Shaw said.

However, he noted that if contained and managed well, the experience can be both “beautiful and enriching.”

He affirmed that this is the primary reason why having a pre-set plan and approach is critical to completing such a gruesome task.

“It’s incredible how each individual has a different approach to the same challenge. Personally, I’m fascinated with what goes through one’s head,” Mr Shaw said, before listing a number of key elements that helped him swim for over 12 hours and around 33,000 strokes.

Firstly, the CEO stated that he was, and still is, grateful to have had the opportunity to perform the challenge in beautiful surroundings.

Taking on the swim also required him to remain consistent and focused, wanting to adhere to his swim plan at a consistent pace, while also ignoring potential distractions such as other boats and swimmers.

It was also helpful for him to keep clear objectives, knowing that he wanted to finish and that should he fail, he could only do so “physically, not mentally.”

Mr Shaw also broke down the swim into three segments of approximately 12 kilometres, focusing on completing one segment at a time.

Additionally, it was also necessary for him to avoid any unhelpful thinking with pre-planned narratives, never making himself think about any sort of pain or tiredness so that he does not amplify it.

He added that it was also a team effort, and that he owes the completion of the challenge to his team.

“The reality is that there is no magic wand or one-size-fits-all approach. We are all different with our own personal challenges and for which we have to find our own coping mechanisms,” Mr Shaw said.

“Eventually, our time on this planet is our biggest ultra [challenge] and our thinking matters!” he noted.

Mr Shaw is a seasoned retail industry professional with expertise in new business development, high level marketing, and business transformation. At Retail Marketing Ltd, he oversaw the launch of the Welbee’s supermarket chain following the merger of a number of supermarkets in 2021.

Featured Image:

Retail Marketing Ltd CEO Jonathan Shaw / LinkedIn


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