Early morning swims are both my favourite thing and my least favourite thing. Sometimes I wake up raring to go. Other times it is a struggle to get out of bed.
An early night the previous night saw me awake early. I prefer to wait till 7 ish before I go to swim. This is mainly because I am swimming alone. At that time there is always a council worker about picking up litter. And there are usually some people with metal detectors if it is a low tide. Which this particular day was. So I stayed in bed for another hour. It was a rare occasion when a lay in is possible and bed still feels inviting. Mind you a lay in till 645am would not count quite as a lay in for many I suppose.
It was bright sunny and warm. So I decided to go down to Sunny Sands in my cossie with my swamket over the top. I had my sunglasses with me which apart from the towel and swammy were the only things to leave on the beach. They are not much good to any one unless they have a -3 prescription.
The water temperature at the coastal observatory was reading 14.4 at 5.30am. The sea was flat and the tide was outward bound.
My swim plan was to do a speed/recovery set. Swimming from the Burstin to the end of the promenade is around 450m or so. The plan to swim fast toward Dover (against the swell. That is overstating it as it was more of a ripple than a swell.) and to have a steady swim back. This I would repeat for the hour. I envisage that each repeat would take around 15 minutes so I would get 4 reps in. Although the sea was flat from the shore, when your head is level it is not possible to see over the rippling sea. I was swimming on an empty stomach (but for a cup of tea and half a glass of vimto). I like to do this for early swims.
I generally wake up hungry and I know that on my channel swim I will be hungry. I think it is good practice to swim hungry. I may have to do this a lot on the big day. Apparently it is also good for fat burning. Although my bodies physiological response to the cold I expose it to is probably one of confusion. Do you want this fat or not? Well it has clearly decided I do as I have a layer of “bioprene” cover. As good as a wet suit mind.
The sea at 14.4 feels warm to me these days. I have no trouble submerging. And with the sun on my back I swim with a big smile on my face. I wanted to stay in longer but I have a plan. It would be easy for me to do more as I love being in the sea. But a double dip is planned today. I have a technique session planned for later in the day.
The second session of the day is a technique session. This is where I use drills to help with rectifying stroke. The more efficient the technique, the easier it feels. I have worked a lot on my stroke over the winter. Claire Russell and I have done some monster technique sets in the pool. They are a sociable type of training as there is always time to have a chat as you put on your fins or have a drink. It is the first time that I have used my swim toys in the lake.
I arrived at the lake in good time. I was meeting Ali at 5pm and I arrived before 4. This meant that I would complete the set before she arrived. I was quick to get in. I am always more focused when I am alone.
Paula remarked on the wind. I can honestly say that the sea was calmer that morning!
Still nothing ventured nothing gained. I entered the water. It actually felt warm. I am not sure of the temperature but I would hazard a guess at 17. The sun was shining brightly and if I skimmed the top of the water with my hand, I could feel its warmth. I was so glad I did my six hour last week!
I did a 550 warm up and then did the drills. Swimming the 1st yellow buoy and back I did all the drills that I would do in the pool. It worked ok. It was hard to do the Torpedo drill and Unco due to the waves. But with plenty of spluttering I managed it.
I did all the drills and finished with a 450m cold down.
Paula came down when I was about half way through to say that Ali’s 121 lesson had cancelled and she was going to go home and help Miche with the shed building.
I decided to crack on anyway and hope to miss the rush hour.
On my way out I saw Jamie. I had been thinking about him during my swims. I suggested to him that I could set him a programme of 4 sessions a week. He agreed. Like me Jamie can keep going for ever. This is ok in Ironman as the event although arduous is pretty predictable. Not so the channel. There are many more variable. But an ability to beat the tide is the difference between a 12 hour swim and an 18 hour swim.
Jamie (for readers who may not have read my earlier blog. If not, why not?) is doing a two man channel relay with the Channel Swimmers and Pilot Federation and pilot Paul Foreman. (Other Channel swimming governing bodies and pilots are available – well one the CSA – of whom Eric Hartley (Pathfinder) is my favourite pilot. Other pilots are also available with the CSA including Stuart Gleeson (Sea Leopard). ) Any way, I digress. Alan his swim buddy is fast. With a bit of concerted effort and the right training Jamie could be swimming faster.
With that promise, I took leave of the lake and set off back to the van. I did hit rush hour. And it took me 90 minutes to do the usual 45 minute journey. But, I am on my holidays so I don’t mind. When some one cut me up on the motorway I merely waved cheerily and blew them a kiss. Life is good! And I am enjoying it.
Oh and I forgot to mention the RCN Foundation. Have a peak at the link to see what they do.