Meet Richard – Sueño88 swimmer and physician

Richard ErnstWhen Vito suggested the idea of swimming across the Sea of Cortez in a 6 swimmer relay, I immediately thought that Richard would be a great fit.  First, he was a great supporter of our Gibraltar swim last year and is a big supporter of Worldreader’s mission. Second, even though I have not seen him for almost 30 years (we were friends growing up in Mexico), his super positive vibe and contagious laughter is still very present in my memory.  The team and crew will spend at least 50 hours on a boat (swimmers will spend 83% of the time on the boat), so it is essential that we have a good chemistry on board, and I can very confidently vouch for Richard to be a great addition to the overall team dynamic.  Third, Richard has always been an outstanding and committed athlete (cyclist, Ironman, etc…). And fourth, it’s always good to have a doctor on board! Richard, looking forward to swimming with you come June, and I hope you’re not gonna have to use much of that kit on me or anybody else for that matter.


First and foremost I want to thank Mauricio Prieto, Susan Moody, Vito Bialla, Antonio Arguelles, and Luane Rowe for inviting me to be part of the 6 swimmer relay team (the team’s name is Sueño88) scheduled to attempt to cross the sea of Cortez on June 3rd, 2014, and above all, I want to thank my wife Shirley, my daughter Daniella and my son Johann for all their love and support.

A swim across the Sea of Cortez has never been completed by any human being solo or in relay. Several attempts have been made, and none achieved due to jelly fish and weather conditions.

The goal of the swim is to raise money for Worldreader‘s efforts to eradicate illiteracy in the world. It is a honor to be part of such a huge endeavor.

In addition to being one of the 6 swimmers, I will also be the team physician, so I will be treating medical problems as they come – if needed. I will take with me a medical kit to deal with common medical situations we may face in the ocean such as:

√ Sea sickness
√ Near-drowning
√ Swim-Induced Pulmonary Edema [SIPE]
√ Minor Trauma / cuts / lacerations
√ Corneal Abrasion due to either a true abrasion from swim trauma, or simply allowing water to accumulate in swim goggles.
√ Hypothermia / Hyperthermia
√ Otitis Externa [Swimmer’s Ear]
√ Swimmer’s Shoulder
√ Sun burns
√ Marine Animals Hazards from the marine environment include injuries, poisonous stings and secondary infection (coelenterates, mollusca, echinoderms and poisonous fish, Jellyfish, Anemones, Hydroids [fern-like], and Coral)
√ Shark / Squid attacks (unlikely)
√ Allergies & anaphylaxis
√ And other possible conditions of the medical encyclopedia.

My life radically changed since I got invited to participate in this gigantic adventure.

As an Iron Man triathlete I was used to an exercise routine that was focused on cycling and jogging and some swimming (3 days a week). My routine rapidly changed and most importantly my efficiency at work tripled… This allows me to have an additional cushion of time for daily swimming before, in between and/or after work. I joined a master’s team on Wednesday mornings and instead of starting at 5:30 am with the group I start at 5:00 am when the pool opens. I got a swimming coach (Frank Sole) who immediately corrected my swimming technique which was by the way wrong from A to Z. I also joined an endless pool at Frank’s lab which allows me to prepare for strong currents and extreme weather. Lastly, I tried the cold water of my pool (13-14 degrees Celsius only to realize I really desired my wetsuit!… The ocean temperature at the sea of Cortez is expected to be at around 22 degrees Celsius (No wet suit allowed… 🙂  ).. We will swim day and night for at least 48 hours. I have never been in the ocean at night. I am not sure how to prepare for that. In Vito’s words it is a piece of cake and psychological warfare… I hope our shark friends and squid friends will keep busy chasing fish way below surface level… Vito has swum in total darkness endless times and I can only trust his judgement and experience. “We came from the ocean and are part of the ocean; We are just sharing it…”

The joy of sports & open water swimming

To me, the attempt to cross the sea of Cortez is a symbol of happiness through sports, direct contact and communion with nature, adventure and team play. I believe life becomes more joyful when new goals and challenges are created on a daily basis, especially with the broader goal of helping others.

It is also fascinating to pursue a balance in our internal and external life through daily practice of some form of exercise, some form of spirituality, service to others, family, work and social activities.

I am looking forward to crossing the sea of Cortez on June 3rd. It is a privilege to be part of the team and to be able to raise funds for Worldreader.

I do enjoy every moment of my life in a ever increasing manner and this event magnifies the feeling infinitely.


Categories: Guest Posts, Open Water, Sea of Cortez

Tags: ,

5 replies

  1. Trato de encontrar la palabra que permita describir el estado de estupefacción con el que me quedo conforme leo nuevas entradas sobre su futura aventura en el Mar de Cortez. Guau! Uff! Recorcholis! Cáspita! Sopas! No manches!
    Chingón! Es la que mejor me sabe.
    Ojalá se sienta que es metáfora de lo que me deja la majestuosidad de su aventura. La belleza del gesto de solidaridad humana, la fiesta de compartir con amigos una aventura extraordinaria, el sacrifício y la diciplina, el vencer el miedo, la lucha por rescatar lo esencial, el orguyo de hacer que mi pequeña gran familia – María, Nicolás, Paulina y Yo, hermanos, primos, tios y abuelos – forma y formará parte de su equipo, en el privilegio de saber que somos sus amigos y que los seguiremos hasta lograr el éxito!

  2. Forgot it was best in english.

    I am trying to find (not anymore since I already did in my last post 😉 the best word to describe my state of amazement every time y read a new post about your future adventure in the Sea of Cortez.
    Guau! Uff! Recorcholis! Caspita!
    Chingón! Is the one with the best taste.
    I wish it reflects the wonderful amazement your adventure brings to me. The beauty of human solidarity, the celebration of sharing with friends an extraordinary adventure, the discipline and sacrifice, the overcome of fear, the struggle to recover the essence, the pride of knowing that my little grate family – María, Nicolás, Paulina and I, as well as brothers, cousins, grand parents and uncles – will be part of your team, having the privilege of being your friends and following you till your success!

  3. Go Doctor Ernst!! All of us on 5C Orthodedics at Shea Hospital of Scottsdale are cheering you on and sending blessings of safety to all of you. We’re so proud of you!

  4. Two thumbs up for Dr. Ernst!! I knew you were an activist for a good cause, and this is a gigantic undertaking! But you are doing it ! Everyone from 3C at SHC-Shea hurrah for you!

  5. All of us on 3B are wishing you the very best on this terrifying adventure! You are a very strong man to put yourself in such a situation for the good of others! We will all be sending you good vibes!!!

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