An old school master of mine regularly spouted two particular quotes one of which was “a fool learns by his mistakes yet a wise man learns by the mistakes of others”
How right he was.
I will spare you the finer details but here is Fridays Tale…
By way of background and as frequent visitors to the blog will know, we have visited Dover a number of times this year, the drive is in general a gruelling ordeal, 350 miles taking anywhere from six and half hours plus, on arrival all we ever feel like doing is eating and sleeping. As per the previous post, last week I was playing the waiting game and did not expect to get any opportunity to swim, a swimmer was backed up from the previous tide and I was second slot, therefore in effect I was third in line with no sign of good weather.
Around 8:30 on Friday morning I was down stairs making a cuppa when Charlie called from my bedroom shouting that my pilot was on the telephone, I was offered the opportunity to swim providing I could get to Dover Marina by 1430-1530, I quickly rang KGB and Dave Neal who where at work, without discussion we agreed that it was possible to cover the distance in time if we left immediately, I crammed the car and before too long Charlie was dropped with his Grans and we were racing down the motorway. I was yet to have coffee let alone breakfast, but we continued with haste to make the dead line.
Kelly received some telephone calls whilst enroute from some very informed swimmers and other experienced parties all of whom doubted my sanity and the conditions of the day, I told her I didn’t want to hear any negatives as I was already committed.
Grabbing some MnS pasta enroute, an electric shave in the car and the odd toilet stop at roadside! We arrived at 3.20pm, My support swimmer could not make it in time having been at work and not expecting the call before Saturday at the earliest. Sam Jones stepped in and even purchased some items that we had left behind in the rush to depart. Thanks Sam.
Without time to brief, focus, eat, rest, prepare feeds etc we loaded the boat and motored around to Samphire Hoe, I jumped from the boat swam to shore, it was a surreal, this was not how I imagined it would be in the slightest, I was not excited I was almost in tears as I reached the shore to begin. Begin I did, however within 45 minutes I was vomiting, I do not know if it was entirely as a result of the sea state or some other factors, my first feed was soon returned to the sea as I continued to be sick. Shortly before my second feed I called it a day much to the disatisfaction of Kelly and the other people on board. It was ridiculous situation. I was ill, I was tired before even starting, I was starving before the start but now the last thing I wanted was to eat. My stomach was inside out and I felt I had no choice but to abandon, I have zero regrets about getting out.
However, in hindsight I should never ever have accepted the offer to swim at such short notice moments after a 6hour plus drive with such little emotional/mental preparation. It was a crazy decision I hold my hands up to making a massive mistake.
I want to thank my new friends from the swim world for their 100% support and advice. Especially Enda Kennedy, Freda Streeter, Kevin and Jane Murphy, Cliff Golding, Barrie and Irene Wakeham, Michelle Macy, Sam Jones.
I have the option to swim in September…after a little thinking time, I will decide pending child care, work, time off, finance etc.
I do not consider that I have failed, lets face it two hours is barely a training session, I know for a fact that I am way better that this, I have proven to myself I can manage at least 7 hours. All I want are the conditions and the circumstances for a reasonable chance.