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.