Category Archives: sea swimming

Easter 2015

“How cold can it be?” we asked as we approached the lake for the first time in weeks. Due to injury, illness and logistics it had been some time since we had been swimming together. Princess Fiona and Claire had decided that they were not doing cold stuff this year. Victoria and I had aspired to an ice mile but sadly it was not to be. Baking injuries will do that to you. So does flu, gastric problems and other weekend commitments. Still it will all be there next year too. There is no rush.

 

The water was 7 degrees. Too warm for an ice mile. But a large congregation had gathered. 8 of us in total at the lake for a swim. Victoria, Christian and I were sans wet suit. Heather, Julie, Grant were with wet suit. Sam had not even brought her swim suit. She had come to look only. Sadly Ali was too ill to swim but had come along for the show! 

 

Secreted underneath her jumper however was a Manchester snow globe. We had gone in search of the snow globe once Victoria had told us that she had not bought it. It seemed a suitable gift for a specially dressed person on her special birthday. Needless to say it was beautifully wrapped in a Manchester newspaper and with the price still on it! Still that was not a surprise. Victoria had told us how much it was in the first place. 

 

So without further ado we decided to enter the water. Regular readers will be aware that there is always in fact much ado about nothing. And so it was approximately an hour later when we were ready to take out first step. We knew it would be cold. We were scared. It may be worth mentioning at this point that I had lost 10kg (21lbs in old money) since my last entry. I knew I was going to feel the cold. 

 

Christian was already in when we entered the water. He had submerged to his shoulders and went off for a swim. I bet Victoria (or maybe she bet me) that we could at least swim to the first buoy. And do you know, once you are in, it is fine. We did a couple of circuits of the buoys and then decided to get out as we had to drive. We soon realised when we were neither shivering or cold that we could have done longer than the 15 minutes we did. But who cares? It was exhilarating and we were back!

 

Sam and Ali returned from their ambulations around the lake and we had hot drinks and celebrated “being back!”.

 

The plan was to meet at 11am on Good Friday. Sam promised to bring her swim kit. Victoria sent apologies as she was going to be abroad. And on the day sadly Ali was poorly and decided not to come. It will still be there when you are better though! 

 

And so it was on Good Friday that saw Sam, Princess Victoria and myself at the lake. Later than planned (midday not 11am) Christian had already been in and out. Princess Fiona (who you may recollect had sworn off the cold stuff!) said that as she had an ear infection she was going to do head up breast stroke. 

 

We got into the water. It felt colder than the previous week but that may be due to the amount of faffage. 15 minutes we stood at waist height. “its the first time I have seen you shiver” Princess Fiona observed. I did not want to brag but I did have to say it was due to the 21lbs I had lost.  But do you know once you are in – it is easy.  We also noted that there had not been a swear word at all.  And it was still 7 degrees. I swam 4 laps of the buoys (compared to three the previous week). Sam and Princess Fiona were not far behind. And once again we had done it. 

 

A celebratory run around the lake finished the day off for Sam. Princess Fiona and I ate my home made brownies and drank hot drinks instead. After all, Princess Fiona was ill and I did not want to leave her on her own! 

 

Sam joined us after her run and we had of course saved her a small piece of brownie.

 

You may wonder why we do it.  I would say for the sociable. But surely it would be better to meet in a coffee shop or even the pub? Well it would certainly be warmer but I am not sure about being anymore fun! What better way to spend your Bank Holiday than partially dressed in the cold! 

 

Easter Sunday though saw me as a Chilly No Mates (see what I did there) Well that is not strictly true as Kaz took pictures and you can see that I had two friends.

 

Easter 2015 with swim buds Easter 2015 swimbles.

 

Kaz had to spend some time chasing the dogs away from my swim kit. You can see from the pictures that there are not many wee stations for dogs and they seem to be attracted to the bag. Or any push chair. A leg will be fine if nothing else! 

 

Sunny Sands the venue. The sea was a balmy 8.3 degrees. It is funny how much difference 1.5 degrees makes when you are swimming. The weather was similar. A small breeze but what there was was very chilly indeed. I just swam for 15 minutes. We had parked in the hour limit in the harbour. But being in the sea makes me smile. There is a cycling saying “winter miles make summer smiles”. In swimming I can reverse that. “Winter smiles make summer miles”. It is so much easier if you are acclimatised. Plus it is exhilarating. 

First Sea Swim 2015

I have been out of the water since the New Year. I had flu followed by a baking injury. The flu lasted a couple of weeks and then I inadvertantly blended my finger. I will spare the photos but I had to stay out of the water until it had healed.
My van (aka The Nest) opened in mid February. I have visited but have not been able to swim. It is most frustrating.

On Saturday 14 March, I decided I would brave the elements and have a swim. The tide was going out. The weather bouy reported the sea temperature as 7.9. The air temperature was 7 but with the wind chill it felt like 2. (It actually feels much colder when you are stood in your cossie on the beach)

I decided I would swim for 15 minutes only. I was on my own and had neither a swim buddy or a beach butler. The wind was bitter and it is a fair way to the car so I decided it was better to stay in a short while and still be able to drive.

Since January I have lost 8kg (probably a bit more by now). I was a bit worried about how much of the cold I would feel. I needn’t have worried. I still have a layer of bioprene and I also was desperate to be in the water. I got in without too much ado and swam. The waves were coming fast and breaking quickly and some were quite big. It was great. I had a huge smile on my face the whole time. I got out reluctantly as being alone I did not want to push my luck. Getting dry was quite chilly but to be honest I was so exhilarated I did not really notice. I knew I could have stayed in longer. I did not get the shivers and did not lose the use of my fingers. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The sea has to be respected. Its a tad foolish going on your own. No need to be even more foolish and over do it.

Prior to the March swim I had swum in The Strand at Gillingham with Victoria. The water was just above 1 degree and the air probably not much more. Sadly the week after I was ill then I blended my finger so I was only to swim once in the Strand. It would be a good place to go and I am sorry to have missed it. I am also envious of Victoria’s consistency this year. The ice mile we had hoped to do became a non starter the minute I got flu. The water temperatures will be seeking up now and i just of not have the acclimatisation. Still, always next year.

My other Blue Tit buddies have chosen to stay out of the really cold stuff this year. Ali has been proper poorly. She as in hospital and has not been fit. She is now back in the pool and turning out 2k swims. Not only that she has stopped smoking. So I am well proud of her. Princess Fiona and Claire swim at David Lloyd. Claire is training for Dorney 10k and Princess Fiona is mainly drinking wine!

We are having an adventure to the Swim Show. Emma (previously known as Min) is going to meet us in the evening for eats and drinks but she is a cycling tit. She is training for a 100 mile time trial. So there is lots going on and to aim for.

I am looking forward to keeping the blog up to date again (it being November since I last wrote). A swim adventure of note would be the Boxing Day Dip. Kaz joined me in the sea. We dressed up as jelly fish for the event. I carried on swimming after the even was over. The sea was 9 degrees that day but it was quite mild in the air. It was a great day. Kaz said she was glad of the costume as the bubble wrap had kept us warm. We were originally going as jilted brides. I think the outfits were multi purpose as a few people thought that is what we were. Judge for yourself. We are quite clearly jelly fish!!

 

jelly fish or brides

Halloween Swims (sort of)

It is strange not to be swimming quite so much. And really only for enjoyment. 

I arranged to meet Claire and Ali at the lake. So I was really pleased to find that Sam was also there. Ali decided to come for the social only and planned to arrive around 12.30. So Sam, Claire and I having arrived at 11.30 decided to get on with it. 

Well get on with it might be overstating the point. But we decided to swim so that when Ali arrived she would not be waiting too long for us to finish our swim. 

The temperature was recorded at 13.9. so it was significantly cooler than the previous week when it was around 16. (Believe me 2 degrees makes a difference at these temperatures).

We were ready to swim. It was warmer in than out as the thermometer on my car read 12 degrees. But as we were about to get in the sun came out. Lovely. 

Claire claimed the water was toasty. She commented that she had admired Heather and Julie’s approach the previous week (for the naked swim) when they had just gone for it.  I followed her in and I made a leap for it and immediately submerged. (Not wanting to be out done by Heather and Julie – not that I am competitive. Oh no!)

Sam made a hesitant entrance. She was finding it cold as well she would as she had not been swimming for weeks. Claire said that she would like to swim a lap. Sam decided that as she was not as acclimatised as us she would try a 400m. I nearly persuaded her to come with us.  But when she said she would have hot drinks for us when we got out, I thought better of it. 

Claire set of at pace. I cannot keep up with her these days. At least not to begin with. And to be honest, even later I would have a job on. Perhaps after about two hours  I could. (As I said, I am not competitive)

The sun was on our backs and the water felt lovely. I would say it was a bit warmer than 13.9 – perhaps about 15? But that may have just been the sun.

When we finished Ali was waiting for us. Sam had let us down with the drinks as she was still getting dry. You just cannot get the swim buddies these days. 

It was great to see Ali, whom I have missed this year. Due to her injury she has not been able to swim as much as she would like. And certainly not as much as I would like. We bullied her into saying that she will see her GP but I think she only agreed to shut us up!

 

sociable

 

It was good to be together. We reminisced about brutal Wednesdays and Saturdays. Especially the food on the Saturdays (courtesy of Miche’s Bistro – she makes marvellous meatballs.)

It was beautiful to sit in the sun and not feel cold after a swim in late October. We all supposed this was the last time we would be able to do it as the nights are drawing in and there is a nip in the air.

 

Sunday saw me meeting Victoria at 8am for an early morning dip. The tide was out and on its way in so we decided to swim to the bouy. We had tagged it with a sticker a few weeks before and wanted to go see if it was still there.

 

early start

 

It was a beautiful day and France was as clear as it as ever been. “it doesn’t look far” quipped Victoria, “22 miles” I replied. We decided not to swim to France just then though as Victoria had visitors for lunch and we did not think we would be back in time. 

Getting in with Victoria is always an event. She suffers from cold water tourettes and makes the most amazing noises as she gets in. But, for all her fuss, she invariably does get in. And then swims brilliantly.

It was Victoria who coined the phrase “flap attack” which I shall leave to the readers imagination. Suffice it to say, it has little to do with sharks. 

We swam to the bouy. It was quite breezy and the waves were brilliant. Victoria swallowed a few mouthfuls on the way but this did not put her of her stroke at all. We were disappointed to see that the vinyl tag and been washed away. There were the remnants of the paper sticker from several weeks earlier though.

 

we tagged the bouy.

Our plan was to swim into the waves toward the harbour wall. We used a crane as a sighting point and had a great swim into the waves. It was odd as on one hand the waves were against us but it did not seem too hard to swim. The tide was on its way in so was probably helping us toward the harbour.

The harbour wall is really tall. Particularly when you are lying down. I would think it was about the height of a house. The hover craft used to leave from Folkestone. For some reason (and not just because it is close to Halloween) the wall is really spooky. It provided protection from the wind so there were no waves but this just serves to make it spookier. We dared each other to touch the wall. Then laughed (hysterically) as we did not know what we were scared of. “I don’t think there is anything that an suck you under”. We laughed again even more hysterically. And then decided it was only a wall. 

 

spooky swim

I swam toward it and paused every so often. But then decided to go for it and I swam and touched the wall. Victoria swam behind me and aimed for the bit I had touched. We then had a look around. There is an installation that looks like something from war of the worlds. Then between two walls we could see the light house. We determined that one of these days we would swim through the gap. We thought it would be a good Coldwater Culture adventure. But not in winter when you are not only rigid with fear, but also rigid with cold!  Perhaps Kaz could kayak through with us I though to myself. I did not say this out loud though. 

 

me and the lighthouse

We then swam back to shore. We had been out for around an hour. The tide had passed the harbour (although it was not yet deep enough for boats to come and go) so we had timed it beautifully. 

Victoria decided that she would get a longer rope for her camera. I tried to take a picture of her but the reach was not quite right and the picture was a bit rubbish. Not known for my photography skills, I am not sure that a longer rope would have helped to be honest!

It was a bit chilly when we got out but not really cold. I had forgotten my shoes so had to walk back to my car in my swimming shoes. In Summer this is ok, but as it gets colder this a rookie mistake (and not one I will be making again). That said, it was mild enough not to be an issue today.

The sea was around 15 degrees. The air temperature was around 12 when we started but about 14 when we finished. So still quite mild. At least when you have your clothes on. 

With a promise that I would check the tides for next week, we went our separate ways. Both of us were probably hoping that the mild weather would remain so that we could avoid the shivers for a few more weeks. 

Dreams are not made of this.

What a roller coaster of a year it has been.

I have swum over 560 km this year so far. But sadly not across the Channel.

I was originally scheduled to swim in August. The wind and the tide dictated otherwise. It was not to be. Hurricane Bertha has happened and although the weather was ok on land. It was just too windy and the waves too big for me to have any chance of getting across. Slot 1s on my tide got to go. And a couple of relays.

After consulting with my pilot, we decided that the first week in October would be a goer. A neap tide, the sea would be still around 16 degrees. Plus, my cold endurance is good from years of outside swimming. Not to mention the “bioprene” I carry. AKA Natures wetsuit!

With that in mind I set about keeping my fitness going. However, returning to work with a diary pre booked with activity that had assumed I would have already swum meant that training took a back seat. That was ok of course as I had the miles in me. I only really needed to keep my toe in the water so to speak.

There was a six week wait between my attempts. 2 weeks before I caught a cold and felt pretty rotten. It messed with my head and I had a bit of a melt down. My head was not in the swimming at all.

I had planned a 5 hour swim about 3 weeks before the big one. Although I was full of cold I went to the lake and swam. I hated every single stroke and eventually abandoned the swim after 4 hours and 15 minutes.

Channel swimming is about endurance but it is also about emotional resilience. I was upset with myself for not completing the time I set. In the whole of the training I had only missed a few swims. I had a negative head on. Rather than thinking to myself (for who else would I think to)? Well, I had done well to swim for so long when I felt so rough, I berated myself. I was only swimming 31 minutes a lap (which for me is slow) and I had struggled to breathe. (Well, of course I had. I was full of cold and had a sore throat!)

To top it all, Eric sent me a text while I was in the swim to say there was a potential to swim that weekend. At that point in time I did not care if I never swum again.

I replied to Eric saying I was not well and could not swim. Not only that, Kaz was away on holiday, Stacey, Ali and Tim were not around either that weekend. So in fact I was also crew less. They were all set for the October slot. And this was mid September.

I did not like sending that text. But, in my heart of hearts I knew I would be able to turn my head around. Although I did not feel well I still had 3 weeks to get better. And it was only a cold.

Upon reflection swimming so long with a cold and sore throat was on one hand, pretty stupid, but on the other quite impressive.

That same weekend, (when I could have swum but still did not have my head in it) I had a bit of an episode. I was tearful and unreasonable. Melton caught the eye of the storm if you will and we had a miserable weekend in which I was critical of him (even more so than usual) and miserable.

He recognised that I was not in a good place. Although to be honest, it was fairly obvious. I am a positive soul by nature and tend to see the best in things and in people. I like to go out and do things and have lots of energy. Imagine the antithesis of that. Add a bit of extra negativity and that was me. Joyful.

Melton persuaded me not to make any decisions that weekend that I may come to regret. In spite of cutting of my nose to spite my face, I reluctantly (and sulkily) went along with his suggestion. Then I went home!

My swim slot was booked for 1 October 2014. I had a few weeks to get ready. Slowly and steadily my head turned around and by the weekend before I was enjoying swimming again. Work was manic during those few weeks. It was student recruitment season which is always bonkers. Plus I had a few over night stays and long journeys. All of this is an excuse really for saying that I had not prioritised strength training. I had prioritised going to bed (or staying in bed) rather than fitting it in.

The weekend before my swim I planned to do a couple of short swims but take the opportunity to rest and eat and sleep. I was shattered from the weeks at work and all the travel.

The Saturday before my swim I had a great swim in a flat clam sea. It was blue and a high tide. The day was warm and there were lots of people on the beach enjoying the late September sunshine. It was beautiful. I had the smile on my face that I associate with swimming. I was glad to be in the water and enjoying it all again. This was in fact the first swim that had made me smile for weeks.

I was looking forward to an early swim on Sunday. There was a bit of breeze and although it was a bit chilly, the sea was calm. The tide was out but due to turn so I set up my belongings half way up the beach.

I entered the water and began to swim. I was smiling and enjoying myself and thinking of arriving in France. I had been in the water about 15 minutes when I heard (in my head as I doubt it was so loud) a tearing sound coming from my left tricep. The pain began immediately. I rested for a second and then tried swimming. It was evident that this was not going to be a good idea.

I rested for a little while again then had another go. I had not strength in my pull and it was painful.
I only had 48 hours until my swim slot began. I got out of the water clutching my arm to my side to immobilise it.

I was greeted at the waters edge by Dachma. She lives with hear partner John in the flats overlooking the sea. Unbeknownst to me she had been watching me from her flat. She had sensed I was in trouble and came down to my aid.

She asked me if I was cold. I told her what had happened. She gave me a hug and then packed my things and took me to her flat. She gave me coffee, brufen and ice. She also told me of a German remedy. Quark applied to the affected area. She even gave me some from her freezer.

We sat for a long time on her balcony talking. Then John her partner drove me to my car and only left me once he had established I could change gear.

I got back to the Nest. The physio was closed but I knew I would be calling first thing the next day.

And so for this year at least, my Channel dreams were over.

I went back to see Nuno the following day. He advised (what I already knew really but was holding out) that if I were to swim I would make a minor injury into a major injury. And so I called Eric to tell him what had happened.

Sabbatical part 2

Where does the time go to? It is Tuesday July 15 and I realise that I have no written for just under two weeks.
I am not sure how I managed to find time to work and to train. In reality the last few weeks have shown me that I did not really.

I am very lucky to have been granted this time off. Two weeks and a bit in I am realising that it would not have been possible to achieve my Channel dream if I had not had the time.
In the first two weeks I had swum 54 miles. I had also done weights and resistance between 3-5 times a week. Plus I had been up to Leeds to take my Dad to the hospital for his review after his surgery.

Day 4 – Day 7

The first weekend of the sabbatical was scheduled to be a double sea swim. 4 hours each on Saturday and Sunday. I was lucky enough that Kaz was willing to be crew for the whole weekend. The weather forcast sadly was not great. Rain was forcast and the temperature was due to drop. This is the UK after all and as preoccupied as we are with the weather (and I more than many I will concede) it is for a reason. In Australia if it rains one day people just put off they were doing until the next. Not so in the UK. You have to get on with it.

I managed to persuade Kaz that an early start on Saturday would be advantageous as we would then be able to use the afternoon to go and see the Channel Swimming exhibition in Dover. Kaz does like this sort of thing (honest) and in fact it was her who told me about it. I planned an 8.30am start.

It was absolutely chucking it down first thing when I went to pick her up. As she is not Australian she had packed her waterproofs. My sister Janet had re named Sunny Sands. She believed Rainy Rocks would be a better name. And on this day that was certainly the case.

Funnily enough, given the time and the weather we were the only ones on the beach. My friends Claire and Princess Fiona had agreed to join in about 10.30am. Kaz wondered if they would come as the weather was so awful. I anticipated that a bit of rain is not going to put off swimmers. You are wet already as it is.

The sea was quite bumpy when I got in. It looked quite calm from the beach but when you are laying flat the waves look huge. They were also “waving” (rolling) quickly. I had on my tinted goggles. They were a bargain at a fiver. Prescription lenses too. But the sea knocked them off a couple of times so I got out and got my trusty Eagle Aqua Spheres. Back in again. I swam the first hour and then asked Kaz to bring feeds in between 30 and 40 minutes. I gave her my watch so I had no idea what time it was.

Claire and Princess Fiona arrived. I had not noticed them arriving (as it was hard to see over the waves) and the next thing I knew they were beside me. Claire commented how bumpy the sea was. The tide was out and it was taking about 7 minutes to swim away from the harbour but 22 minutes to return. (I had timed it before I handed my watch to Kaz)

We were cheerfully swimming along and something crashed into my ribs from the side. It was another swimmer. (not known to us) All that room and we still manage to bump into each other! Well in fairness he bumped into me. It didn’t half wind me and I had to stop for a little while to catch my breath. But on the count of 3… we were off.

Claire got out as she had planned to do an hour. I had no idea how long I had been in. Time is a guide and I had no idea what time they had got in the sea. Fiona stayed in with me.

When Kaz gave the call for us to get out I had no idea. I thought I had been in just over 3 hours. I had not been able to count by feeds as she had delivered them between 30 and 50 minutes.

The sun was shining and it was really quite warm. The opposite to what had been forcast in fact. I was really hungry so Kaz and Stuart went to get me chips. I devoured them.
We were joined by Nicki and Ali (two other channel aspirants) who had been swimming at the Rotunda that morning. I do not like it there as it is a steep pebble beach. Hard to get in and out. I have swum there (and it is a really good long swim) but I avoid it usually and certainly on an outward tide.

We exchanged swimming stories and I agreed to meet them the following day.

Kaz, Stuart and I went to the swimmers exhibition to look at the photos of swimmers from a bygone age. We got in at student rate too as I was a channel swimmer! Stuart is a channel pilot and Kaz, well she is just a Channel groupie!

Sunday saw us on the beach by 10.30am. Nikki and Ali were already in the water. Kaz was coming down with the grandchildren for the day. And it was raining again. In fact it was tipping it down. We used the arches to keep the kit dry and I went into the sea at 10.40 and joined the others. It was flat calm.

I swam with Ali and Nikki. They had to get out as Nikki was returning to Edinburgh and Ali to Brum. I asked them to let Kaz know my feed would be at 11.40. And sure enough it arrived. I gave her my watch again.

It was absolutely tipping it down. Kaz had arrived with Jamie, Harry and Louis. Stuart’s daughter Serena was also there. They did not appear to care that it was raining and were having fun and games on the beach.

The schedule for drinks was every 40-50 minutes. Alan and Jamie arrived and swam for an hour. But for the most part I was alone. The sun did eventually peak out. I had no idea how long I had to go when Kaz told me it was my last feed. I said that I would like another in 30 minutes.

I had nothing in me. This was a valuable lesson. And one I really already know but had “forgotten”. I was able to keep going at this point but I had no energy at all.

I burn approximately 900 calories an hour when I swim. And that is in a pool. Factor in the cold water and the chop and it could be around 1000 or more. My drinks only have 120cals per 500mls and that is all I was drinking every 30-50 minutes. It is just not enough.

I could keep going but if I am swimming for 15 hours + I am certainly going to have to take more on board. I like tinned peaches, kendal mint cake and bananas. I can also experiment with making the drink ab bit stronger. And I came to the conclusion that some of the gels may be a good source of fuel.

I chose Honey Stingers (other energy gels are available) mainly because as the name suggests they derive from honey. Which I like. Well at least on porridge. I ordered them from Amazon that evening so they would be ready for my next long swim.

My first week saw me clock up 44km of swimming over 17 hours. In other words, I swam the equivalent of the Channel in a week!

BBB

Due to the physio treatment I took the whole of Friday off. Saturday was at the lake again. 

 

It was pretty miserable and certainly warmer in than out. I assisted Ali with the 11am assessments. This involves swimming around 200m in a wetsuit. I don’t really call that swimming anymore. But it is quite a long way when there is no lines and no edges to hold onto! 

 

leybourne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still I was in the water.  And that makes me happy. The lake was 17 degrees. It felt quite warm in the water in a wetsuit. But it is still about 10 degrees colder than a swimming pool. And lots of people find swimming pools a bit chilly.  

 

After the assessments were completed I had arranged to swim the 750m loop with Jane. Her event is in two weeks and she just wanted to make sure she could swim the distance. 

 

I kept my wetsuit on as there were more assessments afterwards. It is hard enough to get a wet suit on before it is wet (a dry wet suit!). Let alone when it is a wet wet suit. 

 

Jane swam really well for around 500m. At this point she was a bit breathless. She was concerned about this. I reassured her that if she and run along way she would be breathless and she would not think anything of it. I did not think she was having a panic attack. She was tired. It is a long way is 500m when there is nothing to hold onto. The wet suit is buoyant and she was able to lay on her back to recover a little. 

 

We swam for another 50 m. This took us to the bank. Jane stood for a while to catch her breath again. She swam another 50 m or so and had another little rest. She started to walk but I stopped her. “Jane” I said, “No walking. You will only beat yourself up for not swimming it all. You can rest as much as you need to but we are swimming it all”.  Jane’s big smile told me all I needed to know. 

 

She swam the distance! 

 

I advised her to swim the 200m round the buoys the following week. Then she can come in every 200m for a rest but is still swimming the distance. 

 

With that she exited the water and I joined the next round of assessments. 

 

In total I was in the water for around 2 and a half hours. I swam around 1.5k in that time. It is great helping others with their swimming. Plus I was in the water and it kept me from over doing it. 

 

The following day I had arranged to meet Victoria at 10am on the tops. Her swim intentions were for 2 hours in the morning and a double dip opportunity for the afternoon.  Mine were to see how my elbow held up. 

 

Kaz (returned from her holidays) agreed to BBB. (Be beach butler). I picked her up and off we set. 

 

The tide was high but had turned and was on its way out. The beach was still fairly empty as it was quite early and the weather was cloudy and a bit over cast. 

 

sunnysands with victoria swim 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We secured an arch but the sun was out so we set up swim camp outside. I have to confess I was a bit trepidacious. I was not sure how my elbow would fair. Still there was only one way to find out. I agreed with Kaz that even if my elbow was ok I would only swim for 90 minutes. That way I could double dip with Victoria. 

 

We got in the water. Victoria always makes a fuss and screams. I joined in just for the fun of it! 

 

me n vicks knee deep dip 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I dived in through a wave and Victoria plunged in soon after. With Kaz briefed to provide us with our drinks (aka feeds) at half hourly intervals we set off toward the Burstin and then back toward the 3rd falling rock sign. This was the swimmable beach. There are rocks that you cannot see and we have various markers that we use so we don;t swim into them. I have previously swum into them and it hurts. And you bleed. And the salt water gets into the grazes and stings. So not something to be repeated!

 

The first half hour flew by. Nuno had suggested that I half my distance and only use 70% of the effort I would normally. There is a saying in swimming that if you slow it down you speed it up. I was concentrating on my rotation in the water and the length of my stroke as I swam toward the Burstin. On the way back I was thinking of high elbows. It seemed that I was flying through the water. It felt easier toward the Burstin. I think this was because I was thinking of rotation. Kaz observed later that we were going quicker toward the falling rocks as the waves would move us on. 

 

Victoria was flying too. She was swimming strong. With all that room (the whole of the English Channel if you will?)  we still managed to bump into each other. This caused great hilarity. Our laughter carried onto the beach and Kaz asked us what we had been laughing at. 

 

I exited the water at 90 minutes leaving Victoria to swim the last 30 alone. I wanted to stay in but mindful of the advice (and knowing that there would be a double dip opportunity) I got out. Victoria nailed another 2 hour swim. 

 

Stuart had joined us on the beach. Kaz and Stuart went off together as they needed to do some bits around town. Victoria and I walked back up to our cars together. It was at that moment that I realised 3 things. 1) Kaz had my car key. 2) My phone was in the car. 3) The van key was in the car. 

 

Victoria messaged Kaz and I joined her in the Beatle. We arrived at the van and had to sit out for about 30 minutes waiting for them.

 

We then had beans and cheese on toast before our next dip. Fortunately Kaz has a key for the van so was able to let us in! 

 

Kaz again was BBB. The sun was out for the next dip although there was a stiffer breeze. The tide was low which gives a long swimming stretch. Victoria as usual made a fuss. She was a sleepy badger and was not really feeling the love! With short shrift from Kaz (and me!) we got changed. Victoria had only one cossie with her so she had to put on her wet cossie. I had a dry one! 

 

the towel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The plan was for an hours dip. “That is only 2 half hours and you will be fine once you are in”, said Kaz. Proving in one sentence that she can add up and…. Actually I am not sure what else that proves!

 

So that is what we did. It was fantastic being in the water again. There were some lovely warm bits. But also some really cold bits. 

 

Victoria nailed three hours in one day. A most audacious swim. She was well pleased with herself. I had swum for 2.5 hours. No pain killers at all. 

 

me n victoria hoody shot me n kaz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made sure that I did some post swim stretches. 

 

We then took some photo opportunities on the beach (as we had the official photographer back). 

 

I have said it once and I will say it again. Although the channel is a “solo” it is far from a solo effort.  My swim buds and land crew (BBB) have supported me though my tears (earlier in the week) but also with lots of laughter. Mind you that is easy as we do find ourselves laughing at anything! Bumping into each other as you swim would not immediately strike you as funny. It hurts (Well it hurt Victoria as I walloped her) but we laughed. 

 

So thank you again Swim Buddies. In the words of a famous Frank Turner song “if you’ve got my back I’ll go on”.

Swimming Stories.

A while has passed since I last wrote. One reason is my website was down so I was not able to post what I had written.

 

But also the sea swimming opportunities have been hampered by poor weather. High winds and high tides do not make for the most safest of sea swimming.

 

At Folkestone where I swim most often, if the wind is in the right (or rather wrong) direction and there is a high tide, getting in and out is less than safe. You stand the risk of being battered into concrete if a wave catches you and knocks you off your feet. 

The caravan opened on 12 February. It had been my intention to go down that weekend with the girls both to celebrate my birthday (early) but also to sneak in a few nifty swims. Sadly the weather was so atrocious on the Friday it made driving somewhat risky. 

 

Given that I cannot swim if I am injured or dead, I decided to postpone the weekend away. In fact the weather was appalling. There would have been no swimming in the sea. What I did manage to do though was some good quality pool sets, ending the weekend with a 7k swim.

 

I had up until then lost my swimming mojo. I was a bit fed up with doing CSS paced swims against a bleeping timer. And I use the word bleeping for two reasons. Both because it does bleep but it also saves the unnecessary use of a swear word. It was in fact driving me bonkers. I was beginning to feel like an Amazon ware house employee. (Only I did not have to move quite so quickly). Ali had suggested I just swim without it. How obvious really. So I had a couple of weeks doing drills and sets based on feel rather than measurement. 

 

I rediscovered my joy for swimming after that and had some good sessions. 

 

For my birthday properly I did spend the weekend away and did not swim at all. I got off the wagon and enjoyed a number of bottles of wine and quite a few gins with Melton. We went away and had a really good time! 

 

Directly after this I recorded a new CSS time with my swim buddy Claire. Although a bit slower than previously I did not mind as I was enjoying swimming again.

 

Then to bring us up to date, the first Saturday in March found me on the beach with Mr Earthquake et al. There were several new swimmers (some of whom had Dry Robes. Cue photo opportunity) The regulars are Dan, Grantley, Neil and myself. Glenn was missing this week but we were joined by a group from Birmingham. 

 

The tide was in (and it was a 7.2m spring tide) but there was little wind. Victoria had waited for me and we entered the water together. The sea is still a balmy 8.7 degrees. It was warmer in than out at 10.30am. It is the first time either myself or Victoria had been in the sea for some time. It was fantastic. Not so cold it takes your breath away but still invigorating. Victoria had had a swim lesson in the week and is learning how to swim butterfly. Regular readers will know that Ali and myself do a version of Butterfly that we call Moth.

 

rough seas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We spent some time learning from Victoria how to do it. It was great fun and made the time fly! (butterfly!) We were in for around 30 minutes. The sea was really high and reached up to near the top of the harbour wall. We could not stand up so very easily (well ok I could not stand up- Victoria is taller than me and she had head and shoulders out of the water). 

 

Getting out was quite tricky. We were not sure what the beach would be looking like when the tide was out. As we got in we had been aware of  a step down from the ramp. (That had not been there before).  We had dived in from the edge as we got in. As we got out we were whipped about by the waves but made good on our attempt. 

 

As usual we went to the Lifeboat for dinner. A lovely feast. 

 

In the afternoon the tide had gone out a bit. The arches looked different again. The steps up to them (and the step on the ramp) were all visible for the first time ever. The step we had dived off would be lethal if the wind was up and the waves high. 

The sea was fairly flat so we went in and had a brilliant swim. It felt colder than in the morning. 

 

more steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was pleased with my days swimming activity. 

 

The next day Sunday 2 March I went down to see the sea. The tide was predicted to be 7.4m and high tide was at 1145. We met at 10.30. The tide was already in the arches and was due to come in. The waves were large already and crashing against the arches.  The others were already in when I arrived. I decided against it. I would have struggled to get in and as the tide was due to come in further and the waves would only have got bigger, I certainly would not have got out. My own assessment was that it was too dangerous for me. Good luck to the others and I did feel a pang the green stuff but it was not worth the risk. I have a big swim to do later in the year and a twisted ankle or knocked out teeth would almost certainly impair my training!  It did look like huge fun though and I know I would have enjoyed it once I was in. 

 

A 5k swim instead was on the cards. Not nearly as much fun of course. 

 

 

January 2014

Not an auspicious start to the 2014 training plan. That said, I may have been unrealistic in thinking I could be off for 3 weeks and still manage to do a half day on my first Wednesday back.

My plan had been to be in the pool by 2pm for a 2 hour set. I was still working at 2pm and did not get to the pool tip 3.30pm. I managed an hour. I did 5 x 500m on 31 secs per length. 

 

It was hard. I had not really been swimming since before Christmas. I did not swim so much in Australia. Mainly due to being land locked at times. Also the sharks in Queensland are particularly hungry.

 

Thursday I did a CSS set. Just before Christmas my CSS had been 1min 57 per 100m. I decided that I would set my lap time as 29.75 secs (which equates to 1.59) I managed it and it felt just about challenging enough. I will record my CSS time at the next short set so I can do it accurately.

 

Saturday I had arranged to meet Dan Earthquake at Sunny Sands. 11 am is my time of choice as then there is not so long to wait until the pub opens. Victoria, Neil, Grantley, Glenn and Eddie (Enduroman) were also there.

 

swim buds jan 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan’s beard has grown some what. 

 

dan earthquake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were joined by Stuart and Kaz with Jamie and Louis (mini crew). They did a great job of guarding the bags and belongings. 

 

The tide was high and there was a wind towards. The breakers were too large for me to pass with any great confidence so  Victoria and I stayed playing at the shore line. 

 

 

no way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lads had left us behind. The high tide was midday so as the waves were getting larger we decided to get out while the going was good. Grantley had his goggles knocked off by a big wave and got out a bit earlier than the others. 

 

The water was up to the arches. There was a peculiar step up on to the ramp that I had not ever seen before. 

 

Victoria and I were in around 10 mins and the lads swam for around 30 minutes. 

 

To “The Lifeboat” for dinner. Annette made a lovely butternut squash and pepper soup. With some home made chips it was lovely.

 

 

Back to Sunny Sands at 3pm. The tide had receded. And how different it looked. The storms and strong winds had taken sand away. There were rocks by the arches and steps I have never seen before. It looked quite different.

 

 

sunny sands pebbles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

changing sunny sands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grantley was pleased to find his goggles. What a stroke of luck. 

 

Into the sea. It was around 8.5 degrees and the air temp about 8 degrees. The sun shone briefly. The waves were large and rolling and the swim was fantastic. I had a massive smile on my face. 

We swam together (the same group as before) and kept our eye out for each other. 

 

My goggles were leaking a bit but not enough to ruin my enjoyment. 

 

It felt cold (and of course it is) but I coped well given I had only recently returned from temperatures of 40 degrees. 

 

The lads stayed in for ages but I got out after 20 minutes. I did not want to get frozen to the core as I had a long drive ahead. I timed it about right as although I was a bit chilly I still had use of my hands and could feel my toes. 

 

shes special

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Ugg cousin boots ( a pressie from my friend Min) have sadly given up the ghost.  I decided that it was time to buy some more. Coveting Victoria’s (who it has to be say looks incredibly special in her pre and post swim outfit) I went to Sketchers in search of similar. Pleased to say I have found some furry shoes with a hard sole. Perfick