I have a simple plan. Introduce the work I do and raise money. By swimming 27K in one day.

Marco Baldan
5 min readJun 5, 2023

The plan is simple and twofold: tell you something more about who I am and what I do and raise money for cancer research.
By providing you with insights about the kind of preparation I do to swim a very long distance and the kind of work I do, I want to collect at least 2023 euros by the beginning of August.


I will post 9 times in the next 9 weeks. Each post will tell you more about HOW I have been preparing for my first attempt at a marathon swim. And at the same time I will use those stories to relate to WHAT I do and HOW I think, i.e. design and develop learning experiences, digital and not.
All in an unbounded yet hopefully inspiring way.


I have been what the Dutch call a Waterrat (literally an aquatic rat, intended as a water loving being) from my early childhood.

Although personal memories of early childhood always end up being mixed up with the events as recounted by others, from my youngest age I loved playing with, floating in and swimming in the WATER of my parents´ bathtubs, sink, as well as of the seasides around the Venetian lagoon.

My first swimming class happened in spring 1985 with a swim instructor called Principe (Prince): I confidently answered his request to demonstrate how to dive into the swimming pool, only to realize way too late that the buoyancy effect of chlorine water was not as good as that of the salty waters I was accustomed with. Yet, I was only shortly scared and was ready for the next jump.

In the following 38 years, I struggled to understand what a vital part of my life swimming was. It took many swimming classes, years of training in an actual swimming team, phases of denial about how much I loved it, followed by spells in the Mediterranean Sea to feel compelled to swimming all over again.

By 2008 (and in Berlin by then) when confronted with a stressful time, I had to consider what to do to balance the pressure: swimming was back in my life for good.

Quite soon did the pool feel limited though. The idea of an endless swimming, deprived of flipturns, in combination with the beauty and accessibility of the lakes around Berlin/Brandenburg became evident and enticing day by day.

Now, more than a decade later, in a different country (partially under the sea level btw), I am eventually reconciled with one of my passions.

And already swim for events collecting money for good causes (see below)

So it is about time to make something out of it. Something that goes beyond my own pleasure. Which is why I registered for the Sri Chinmoy Marathon-Schwimmen 2023 in Zurich.

What is the Sri Chinmoy Marathon-Schwimmen?
The event is a 27k long swim through Zurich Lake, a fantastic area of turquoise water of best quality, surrounded by what I can only define as one of the most beautiful European landscapes.

What to do on August 6 2023
Swim 27km from Jona to Zurich. Without a wetsuit and without touching the boat or going on land.

Why I want to do it
My father would have turned 70 this year. He died almost 11 years ago. Of cancer.
It only makes sense to me to empower those who can find cures in the best way we can. For me it means promoting my attempt.


Sometimes success stories are told as if they happened only because of a sudden moment of luck, or a fortuitous combination of events, as if an idea fell from the sky to become profitable.

Do not get me wrong, inspiration is key and luck never hurts any endeavor. Yet, telling a success story this way often misses a vital aspect.
Success largely depends on our ability to programme and adjust. For the foreseeable and the unknown.

I started training for this swim in October 2022. I dragged myself to the pool in good and bad weather (or physical) conditions. I assessed my current shape, considered some dietary adjustments, and reinstated a digital working sheet where I log the distances I swim, the sensation and thoughts that occur.
The new swimming habits hurt in the beginning. And helped me realize that I was out of shape (and older).

Additionally, discussed at length with my partner what the prolonged training would have implied for weekly routine, our family life ( we have two small children) and the summer holidays in 2023. Seldom is our plan something that can be achieved in solitude.

Had I not done it, I would not be here today talking about it, confident that I will pull it off.

What planning means to me

Planning is to me an intellectual activity by which you (a team, a family or else) establish what you need to be able to understand, define, and deliver by certain points in time. Roughly.
I am no fan of too detailed of a plan. And yet, every endeavor requires successive (in terms of time and logic) steps. These seldom happen at the same moment. To define them, you need to visualize (or at least gain a rough idea of) what must be done, with whom and for whom. With which resources and by when.

How I shape my game plan

More specifically, and back to my L&D stuff, I normally ask a whole lot of questions to all stakeholders I get to talk to. And attend events where end users are present.
I put myself in the most open mindset I can reach, where chaos looks at moments the most appropriate description of the scribbles, notes and references I have made. I try to see every input as valuable, formal and informal talks, documentation, reports and else.

In L&D it is vital to understand WHOM the product is for and HOW MUCH RESOURCES are available.

In my experience, L&D suffers from an overexposure to flashy slogans and trending buzzwords and an oversimplification of the resources (time and money) needed to create compelling content that remains relevant in time.
The actual target audience and the L&D team itself are those who are mostly penalized if there is not clarity on those points.

If you want to be serious about the work you do, you need to bring to the table the notion of a solid working plan and defend it when needed.
What you want to defend are not the specifics of the plan, rather the notion that a plan must be there. Adjustable, questionable, inspirational.
It does not matter if it is bottom up, top down, team or else. It is going to help either way.

Be vocal about these aspects when you kick off your next project and you will not regret it.

In a week the second installment of my journey about how to train for cold weathers ( in actual and figurative terms).



Marco Baldan

Dedicated feed of apparently unrelated interests. Migration, dataviz, music, swimming, EU, Social impact. Tweets in EN, GER & IT. Retweet's no endorsment 2+2=5