Sunday, 20 September 2009

Lisas 2way swim

Here's a thought...what were you doing 24 hours ago... well, Lisa Cummins (who looked after me in Sandycove, Cork, Ireland last year) was entering the water the commence her epic adventure of swimming to France......and back!

She landed on a sandy French shore after fourteen hours and 36 minutes and swiftly began the second leg of her swim...she has now been in the water (which at present is around 63.5degrees Fahrenheit) for what is approaching twenty four hours...can you imagine being in cold water, all day yesterday, all night with no sleep and still be in it now with another 12 hours plus remaining!!

This woman is a complete can view her progress on the tracker system here. One of her friends is updating her blog via twitter, she is reportedly still making the same pace of 60 strokes per minute and cracking jokes at each feed!...I recently spoke with the crew on the boat (Sea Satin piloted by Lance Oram) they state she is obviously tired but in good spirits..

More updates later

update just had a text this minute almost 27 hours in, text reads " just had really good feed, more content, no pain killer requests for a long time, pilot happy with her"

Latest from Sea Satin at 3.50pm which is 29+hours "Imelda (support swimmer) back in the water for an hour, wouldn't say if it is the last hour of support or not, coast getting more visible. Form has improved a small bit"

4.10pm... "Shes out of the Shipping lanes, into the English Inshore waters 4 miles or more approx, best form from her in a long time"

5.35pm ...31hours of swimming and still going...getting weak but mentally strong

9.25pm...almost 35 hours and looks like about 500m to go...go go go

she has made it after approx 35 hours incredible woman!!!!! congratulations what a day and a half

Monday, 14 September 2009

The Great North Swim 2009

Saturday 12th September brought with it probably the best days weather we had seen for weeks, I set out from home around 8am to head across Country toward Ambleside the host venue for the Great North Swim, I sighted Ullswater enroute and noticed that in was ‘flat as a pancake’ the sun was shining, the conditions couldn’t have been better, Lake Windermere was only a few miles away and was sure to be the same…after a little car trouble I arrived at one of the park and walk areas in good time to suss out exactly what the procedure was to be.

The helicopters, tannoy system and crowds could be heard from some distance, the atmosphere was great with the amount of spectators being very impressive. Having dropped off my baggage in a secure area, I settled down to watch the Elite Ladies and Men’s races, both of whom swam at break neck speed. Several celebrities were in attendance including Rebecca Addlington who started the Elite Ladies race and was very keen with her verbal encouragement! As can be seen below...
After the elites I took the opportunity to watch the ‘Orange Wave’ depart the start line at 1.30pm, I wanted to see the numbers involved per wave and the actual point I was going to enter the water. All went smoothly and I was mentally prepared, I was changed (in the heated marquees) in no time and walked the short distance over the carpeted surface and swiftly cleared through the ‘check in’ to sample the water in a small warm up area, before too long I stood at the front of the pack and waited for the countdown.

The course was marked with a series a large yellow buoys, in an out and back type route. At the hooter, sounded by Olympian David Davies I ran into the water over the timing mats and headed off on my mile, I was in a group of about a dozen swimmers and felt comfortable for the duration of the swim, the only difficulty being sighting the buoys after the half way point due to the position of the glaring sun.

Before I knew it the swim was over, I exited the water and again ran over the timing mats, posed for an official photograph, collected a finishers bag and that was that.

And so, my return to open water was complete, I thoroughly enjoyed the event, the organisation of which was first class. The website has now published the results….in my wave of 201 swimmers I was eighth to finish, I was 35th in my age group of 660, and 302nd overall /207th male from 6000 entries. Although a little disappointed with my time, the day was worthwhile, I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Miyuki her own words

The English Channel Swim Report 2009

I always wanted to be the best and do something unusual so I aimed tocomplete the two-way crossing, not just one way, as no Japanese personhas ever successfully swum the two-way Channel crossing.

On my first attempt, I had to stop after ten hours due to thigh painand I didn’t finish even one-way. A week later, I had anotheropportunity to swim the one-way. I swam for 17hours 35minutes but hadto give up just 3km from the French coast. My respect Freda then gave me some good advice, “When you swim theChannel crossing, you shouldn’t look ahead. It makes you feel as ifyour goal is very far away and that you still have much further to swim so it is mentally harder to keep going. Also, you shouldn’t stopbecause by doing this; you will be drifted by the tide and have toswim further. You shouldn’t do anything which will be disadvantageousto you. You should try the one way swim again.”

It was in 2004. The next year, I began training again for the one-way swim and followed Freda’s advice. Since then, I have successfully completed the one way crossing six times.

This year, I went back to Dover again. I felt ready for to attempt thetwo-way swim. I planned to stay in Dover for 35 days and waited nervously for the big day. Neil, the boat pilot, would choose the day with the best weather conditions for the swim. The other swimmers had gone to swim one after another and everybody kept asking me when I was going to swim but the days passed and I still had no idea when I would get to swim. I started to feel very frustrated but I could not do anything but wait and trust Neil to pick a good day.

For the two-way swim, we would need two consecutive fine days. It was possible that the weather conditions would not permit me to swim because the weather was constantly changing. I told Neil that if the two-way was not possible, I still intended to swim at least one way before flying back to Japan.

At last, one week before I was due to leave England and go back to Japan, Freda told me that I would be able to swim on the next Monday or Tuesday. I was so happy because I had been waiting such a long timefor this chance and could not stop crying. On Monday, I was on the beach with Jenni, an observer when Neil called her to say that we should all meet at the marina at 19:00 that evening for my two-way challenge! I was overjoyed. I was going to attempt the two way swim! I was so pleased that Jenni would also be coming on theboat with me as my observer. I got my thing ready for the swim, had a massage and went to bed for a nap. At last the time for my big challenge had come!

Our boat was called Suva. Once on board, I applied the Channel grease to my body. When the boat came close to Shakespeare Beach, Ishii, my coach farted. Everybody on the ship started to laugh and the atmosphere became very relaxed. Even when I was swimming in the dark, I remembered it and laughed. It was nice to have a funny thought tomake me smile whilst I was swimming, particularly when it became dark. That night I started swimming from Shakespeare Beach. I was familiar with the currents around the beach from my previous swims but, for some reason, on this occasion I kept drifting so that every time I looked up I saw the same scenery. I worried that I might not be moving forward at all and was scared by a big red jelly fish that brushed my arm, stinging me.

After about 40 minutes, saltwater filled my goggles. I had already tested the goggles in the water but the waves pushed the water in. My eyes started to sting. I knew from my previous experiences that the eyes are very important to a long distance swimmer so I changed my goggles when I stopped for my feeding. I am used to swimming at night but I still felt sleepy.

Suddenly, I was surprised by some people screaming. They were a relay team who had already finished their swim and were on the way back to Dover. Their support encouraged me a lot. Swimming into the French side, I started to struggle with the high waves. Some were as big as 2m. The sea always tends to be rough towards France and the currents are very fast. Morning came and as it got brighter, I began to wake up a bit.

By this point, I was really enjoying swimming even in the rough waters but I realized that France was still far away after 14 hours of swimming. I usually swim one way in 14 hours but Ishii told me that this time I would have to swim for another four hours to reach France. I realized that I must have drifted a long way off course when I was swimming near Dover and kept seeing the same scenery. Consequently, it took me 17hours 18minutes to swim just one-way.

I told Ishii that it would be impossible to finish two-way because the first leg had taken too long but he encouraged me to swim a little longer. I swam for three more hours before I asked him if I could give up. Ishii said that the weather conditions were going to become better so there would be no wind or waves so I had better keep swimming as such good conditions were very rare. He told me that I could complete the swim in just eight more hours in such favorable conditions.

I was determined to swim for another eight hours. I tried very hard, spurred on by the though that my dream of swimming the two-way Channel crossing was about to come true. My husband, the pilot, my colleagues, everybody would be delighted! What would I do if TV reporters were waiting for me at Narita airport? What would I do next after my dreamhad come true? Maybe I could try to swim the one-way ten times! Or perhaps I should try to become the oldest Channel swimmer! Pondering over these random things, I pushed myself to continue swimming.

My body ached and I wanted to give up many time but I kept my arms moving. Night came again and it became cold but I didn’t stop. I saw the lights of England as I swam closer and closer to England. I drank another feeding and said to the people on the boat that I could not swim any more but they told me to keep trying. I screamed and my voice echoed in the darkness over Channel. It was the first time that my body was chilled to my very bones and even my wrists started to ache. I gave up about 5 hours from England (about 4 miles). I was mentally and physically exhausted. I could not swim the last five hours.

I recalled my first Channel swim. That time, I was also unable to swim the last few hours. I could see the white houses on the French coast but just could not swim. I realized that I had not followed Freda’s good advice. I had looked ahead and convinced myself that the end was too far away for me to keep swimming. If I had continued to swim very slowly, I might have been able to finish the swim but,because I was tired, I convinced myself that I could not do it.

To be a successful long distance swimmer, you have to be mentally strong. I had swum 30hours in pool and for 20hours 7minutes in sea. Even though it was tough, I am glad that I did not stop after just one way and challenged myself to my limit. Now, I have to use this experience to aid my future training for my next Channel swim. On my first swim, I stopped after just 10 hours but now I was able to swim for about 29hours 30minutes. I never dreamed I would be able to swim for so long. I am so grateful to the people who have helped me to come so far. I could not have done all this by myself. Thank you very much for supporting me. I hope that I will soon be able to fulfill my dream of completing the two way swim and will continue to enjoy swimming.

"The Channel swim was… the human mind is weak, you will inevitably experience feelings of struggle and sadness when you swim, but, hopefully, you will find happiness, too."---Miyuki

little by little

I am finally beginning to feel a little fitness coming back after returning to the pool, I have as usual been training alone and swimming as and when the usual commitments permit. My swims have usually been for around an hour or less, initially it was a struggle to just plod for a thousamd metres but I am pleased to say my times are beginning to drop.

This the weekend I decided to have a go at one of my old favourite swim sets...Basically it is a descending ladder in 100m drops from 1km to 100, ie 1000,900,800,700 etc down to 100 which totals at 5500m.

Last year I was always able to hit 90 minutes for the set with around 15 secs rest between the moment I am on 95 mins, sometimes stretching it to 30+ secs rest towards the beginning of the session. After the first three swims I was doubting I could finish but was delighted to do so in a reasonable time. As my aerobic fitness slowly returns I will be able to lower the rest periods and be closer the target time.

This weekend (12/13 Sept 2009) is the Great North Swim in Lake Windermere (1 mile in open water) I am in a wave on Saturday afternoon and will be hoping to finish in 26 mins. After which I will decide what route to go down with longer term swims...there are few irons in the fire, but its early days (and I still haven't won the lotto!)