Friday 17th June 2016 came around worryingly quick, it was that time of year again, for the annual pilgrimage to Dover in order to take part in the BLDSA Champion of Champions event. Organised again this year by the ever present and witty Mark Sheridan. I am sure by now you know the format, however for the uninitiated, it is simple enough.
Three swims in Dover Harbour negotiating a triangular course to complete 5 miles (10 laps) followed by a short rest, (the period of which is determined by the time taken to swim the required number of laps) then 3 miles (6 laps) and finally 1 mile (2 laps)
Having already swam virtually double the time and distance compared with last years total, I felt way better prepared than normal, the pre event anxiety was minimal..I felt ready.
The journey south put and end to the inner calmness as we were involved in a rear end shunt on the M25 on Friday about 630pm, the car which we have only had a 3 months sustained damaged and we began to feel the after effects and associated whiplash type injuries once the journey recommenced.
The morning of the event saw the gathering of many a familiar face, there was virtually insufficient time to say all the hellos before we were ushered into the water to begin.
After about six laps of the ten I was starting to suffer with the sighting aspect, my neck was sore and aching. I couldn't work out if this was down to the accident or simply regular checking to ensure my swim course was on track. As the laps counted down, I remember talking to myself through the issue:
"OK whats wrong? I'm not cold (The Suunto had a temperature reading of 59ºf) I'm not physically drained..it's just my neck that hurts like hell, am I causing further damage? lets do the 5 miler and call it a day"
Exiting the water after the first swim, slower than normal by about 20 minutes (2h58m) with a distance of 8750m recorded. I was sure that was it for the day, to the extent that I went and had a warm shower. The heat alleviated the pain somewhat, I had a light hearted chat about the situation with Jane, Kelly and a few others, a quick bite to eat and drink and I was back in the water for the 3 mile swim.
For me, this is always the most demanding phase of the CofC, both physically and mentally. Soon enough the 6 laps were complete thanks to the odd jelly baby at the final buoy were our numbers were called to the lap counters and it was almost over.
Spirits on the beach are also high after the 3 miles as even those getting little to no rest, are happy in the knowledge that the end is in sight.
A leisurely 2 laps and the was that.
The conditions were good if a tad bumpy at the furthest orange buoy (bottom right in the images), the water temperature was slightly above average for the time of year, and despite my early injury concerns I was happy to have finished what proved to be a tough but excellent training session. 9 miles in the sea in June has got to be a good thing... hasn't it ?
The presentation soon followed with Mark Shezza Sheridan (pic below) once more making every swimmer feel special with his anecdotes for instance explaining I had prepared for this event by sunset swimming in Jamaica..a comment that was even published in the event catalogue !!
Thanks to the BLDSA family once more for a great weekend.