Friday 19th June 2015 brought the standard horrific Dover drive, 340 miles south stuttered from the word go with traffic congestion. Arriving around 2030, we quickly checked in with Kevin Murphy at Charter House (recommended accommodation for swimmers be it your EC tidal slot or training weekends) the self sufficient cosy flat with enough rooms for us and two of the kids (Charlie and Lottie). We were delighted to see Freda too but had to cut short our catch up gossip for a table reserved at 'Cullins Yard'.
(I had also arranged to meet with Jane from Portsmouth University re the Cold Water study, in order to take possession of 'the pill' as described on previous post)
A quick pasta meal and another chance meeting, this time with Sam Jones, then it was back to the flat to relax before bed.
Saturday morning after a broken nights sleep, mainly due to nerves, I left the children and KGO in bed as I headed off for swim registration about 8am. Mark Sheridan and his team of helpers were in situ as were dozens of swimmers, friends old and new.., too many to mention.
I had my weight, height and skin folds measured for the study, along with my core temperature by the Uni team.
Arms marked up with professional Olympic style numbering it was just a case of awaiting the safety briefing before the inevitable start, planned for 0915.
The plan was simple, swim the triangular course (what is it with the BLDSA and triangles ??? Wykeham/CofC/Derwent Water) clockwise for 10, yes 10 laps, report in to Kate Todd at the last buoy nearest shore on each lap..simples. What could possible go wrong?
The 5 mile started pretty much on time, the water felt fresh but it was too late to complain, the mass deep water start was as hectic as ever, though it didn't take long for the racing snakes (the likes of Chloe and Ollie (eventual Champions) to forge ahead.
Rounding the first buoy, breathing under control, I felt wired, yes wired NOT weird. I needed to settle down into the metronome of one arm in front of the other.
It would be pointless of me to flower this up so I will be as honest as can be. I rounded the second buoy and almost fell to pieces. I felt panic stricken, cold, lightheaded..what the hell was going on. I had swam plenty of times in the murky waters of Dover Harbour, the conditions were great, the sun was trying to get out, the water was about 14. something degrees C and I had only been in the said water for about 10 minutes??. Help.
It took all my concentration and focus to get to grips with this awful mental blip. I continued swimming throughout, speaking to myself all the while, working through the issues one at a time, calling on some relaxation techniques. In the back of my mind I also had the faces of those who had joked with me about ensuring I finish this event (Kelly, Emma, Sam, Graeme, G, Freda et al)
After 5 minutes or so, my head began to settle down and sort itself. I plodded on and on and on, after what seemed like an eternity, 5 laps were done. I was half way, I was playing all kinds of mathematical games with the numbers and distances remaining. Feed wise; At some point I grabbed a couple of jelly babies from the lap counters, together with a gel I had concealed in my trunks.
I knew each lap was taking between 15-18 minutes, therefore I knew I was now in the final hour. Yahoo! No matter how long your swim, knowing you are in the final hour always brings great relief and happiness!! In my mind the last loop didn't count as that was just the swim back to the beach.
10 laps down, one final report in to Kate with directions to swim to shore, where we touch the green buoy and the clock stopped. Excellent. Surely that was the toughest part of the event over ?
The Uni attempted unsuccessfully to take my core temperature, I was either dead or needed to swallow another pill.
KGO and the children were waiting with towels and warm dry clothes, they supplied me with several hot sweet drinks of coffee, I gobbled down a couple of croissants and an energy gel, spending the remaining time resting and warming up.
The Suunto shows 2 breaks in connection to the satellite, but you get the idea.
5 miles: 2hours 40minutes 54seconds
When we commenced the first swim, it was more or less low water. As the tide came in, so did the wind, this resulted in a marked changed in conditions for the 3 miler, the bumpy water slowed my pace and made sighting more difficult. This was physically way tougher than the 5 mile swim. Thankfully the mental demons did not re visit. Mile 2 of 3 was a killer for me, fatigued, aching, my goggles fogged to the extent that I asked Lianne to guide me in her kayak on the last leg as I was swimming blind!
This time the Uni managed to take a reading !! I was alive....More coffee and sweets before the final briefing of the day for a mere mile.
3 miles(4898metres): 1hour 47minutes 55seconds
Good conditions had once more returned for the days final swim, just 2 laps and it would all be over, slightly more of a swim (due to the tidal range) to the start line but I was past caring.
After some thrashing around fighting the waves on the 3 miler, I decided to focus on technique and good form for these last two laps. I was very relaxed knowing it was all but achieved and enjoyed the last mile very much.
1 mile (1763metres): 33minutes 51seconds
The presentation followed with rightful thanks to all involved in organisation and safety cover. Mark Sheridan had something positive to say about almost every swimmer, making the whole event feel very personal and friendly.
The weather held good until the end of the proceedings when the heavens opened. How lucky we were.
An awesome event. Highly recommended. Thank-you to BLDSA family yet again.
More pics later as well as feed back from the Uni.