An early start next morning to force down some porridge banana and coffee with a dose anti inflammatory medication for the shoulder which was still bothering me (I hate eating first thing) we drove the very short distance to the harbour where we saw many swimmers already gathered, getting instructions from Freda Streeter and being greased by Barry. The atmosphere was good, we bumped into a few regulars most of whom we don’t know, said hello to those who we could identify (Chris, John, Paul, Sam etc) then had I a momentary flap when I thought I had lost my ear plugs, soon located them and went to speak with Freda, she was very welcoming and told me to try four hours for this my first visit of the year.
On the stroke of nine a.m. I entered the water, it felt chilly initially after two weeks off, I was dreading what the shoulder reaction might be and just hoped it would hold up for more than a few minutes, following several other seasoned swimmers, I tentatively made my way toward the eastern dock wall. I tried not strain as I pulled the water, wanting to ease the joint back into full use, it felt tender and stiff but seemed ok enough to carry on.
By the time I reached the end of the harbour the throng of people had spread out, so I was more or less alone, but for the odd cap or arm splash that could be seen somewhere off in the distance. Four laps to and from the Prince of Wales pier, then at last I was heading in for a feed, I swam into the beach and felt sore in the shoulder and forearm and was beginning to feel chilly. I reached the pebbles on swimmers beach to see KGB standing there, I told her how I felt and soon began to shiver as I stood in knee deep water, the air temperature was probably cooler than the water. She gave me ‘the look’ and told me to get going, I was miserable by now, bored with being alone and just hoped to make it back to the Western end of the harbour and back to swimmers beach.
I did however swim another loop and came back to shore at three hours ten minutes and called it a day. I admitted to KGB that I could have possibly managed a final loop at a struggle, though this was said after I had warmed up. There were however some positives, the shoulder was better than I anticipated after the lay off from both cold water and any form of swimming. It was a step in the right direction from 2hours 20mins in Cork and I was learning a lot about the whole set up here in Dover.
That evening we ate pasta at an Italian restaurant and headed for an early night hoping for a glorious start to Sunday morning as per the forecast.
Alas after a poor nights sleep interspersed with dreams of swimming with the sun on my back, we awoke to a foggy, cloudy, miserable morning, not impressed I struggled to eat my porridge, before heading once more to the waters edge, today Freda said with a grin, ‘You are going to be here a while today..6 hours’ I nearly fell over, did she know it was me, did she remember I was just a baby with a poorly sick shoulder and that my longest swim in the harbour was 190 minutes, I knew this was not a good idea, straight away I started to doubt myself, I was convinced she was going to say four hours maximum, but she was giving out 5s and 6s like there was no tomorrow. Thinking I would aim for four hours with anything else being a bonus I headed into the water, it felt colder than the previous day and my shoulder was much the same, I managed a pathetic 2 hours and ten minutes, Freda was not impressed, she gave me some ‘advice’ and does not expect anything like that again. I was really disappointed at Sundays performance, I just couldn’t get going, my mindset was all over the place and I have beating myself up since. The 340 mile drive home was in the most part not a happy one as a result.
We are back to Dover this coming Saturday (14th) for more of the same, I must do some mental training this week and prepare myself for the worst in terms of conditions, weather, and swim times. Today I still don’t think I am ready for six hours at 13. something degrees but lets see how I feel at the weekend, its not all doom and gloom and I am trying to seek out the good points, so that I don’t drop into a depression.
Freda’s parting words were, ‘You have time so long as you knuckle down, Its good that you feel cold and yes its boring, see you next week’