Already as a little girl, I feel a deep connection to the water – especially the ocean. With Croatian roots, I feel incredibly comfortable and safe in this element.

When the swimmer Veljko Rogosić sets a new long-distance swimming record in the 70s, he becomes my biggest idol. I dream of setting a record like this myself one day.

Although I have always been very active and sporty, I never got to fulfill this dream. Family, work, and my life in Switzerland 'fill' me to the brim until my 44th birthday, when I was facing the shock of unexpectedly being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

In a span of 6 years, I must undergo 10 surgeries and a boatload of intensive treatments. One of those chemotherapies took a dramatic course, and I fell into a coma, leading me to my own near-death experience. To the great relief of all, the doctors succeed in stabilizing my condition and thankfully ended up bringing me back to life.

This was not the first time that I experienced for myself just how precious life. That literally every breath counts. Thus, I arrived at the decision to not waste any more time and finally tackle my childhood dream of setting a new swimming record.

Together with the support of Swiss Olympic Centre and the professional swimmer Markus Rogan from UCLA, I carried out an intensive preparation for tackling  this task, with a serious and professional approach over the period of one year. On my 50th birthday and in top physical form, I beat the record on 21 st July 2018, crossing the Viski Channel, Croatia. 21.7km, in 5hours 23min.

I became the first woman to swim this route in one go and I'm today the holder of this record.

Any success story deals with much deeper and more exciting questions. How do I train to gain a mindset so that I can perform and excel at any task? How do I deal with my fears and doubts especially when things go wrong? How can I motivate myself despite difficult conditions and make sure to not lose faith?

These are universal questions in life which affect us all. With this in mind, the record-setting swim is primarily a mental undertaking, with the goal of committing to addressing one's own fear and learning to cope with it.

As a cancer patient, I have had and still have to learn how to cope with psychological stress such as fear of dying, not feeling well, as well as coping with overwhelmingly taxing physical, mental and emotional stress challenges.

Every Breath Counts - Sandra Rutz-Miličević Every Breath Counts - Sandra Rutz-Miličević