I’ve always thought swimming the English Channel would be a cool thing to do but anyone who saw me hanging off a canoe during The Sturt Island swim will know sea isn’t my thing – well…maybe the Carribean 🙂 But any sea without tropical fish and turtles isn’t my thing. I was a club swimmer when I was young and knew people who actually did swim the Channel so, like I say, a cool thing to do.
Side note: the Sturt Island swim was my only ever DNF (did not finished) – I got in the sea, started to swim, realised I couldn’t breath, got scared, grabbed a safety canoe, asked to get out! They tried to pursuade me to calm down and have another go but I didn’t want to. I was rescued by a lovely lifeboat with lovely lifeboat men on – silver linings and all that lol! I remember mumbling “…but I’m an Ironman…” not my finest moment 🙂
I also wanted a challenge that I could do in the week to free up a weekend – weekends have been busy for a while! So I decided to swim the Channel distance over five days – I figured “hey I’m a swimmer, it shouldn’t be too hard” Well….
6.4km, 2hrs 25 mins, Lap Counter: Ian Green (husband)
Two and half hours is a long time to swim. It just is. The first hour whizzed by – I do this all the time, usually two or three times a week. No problem. Then you start to get hungry. I was in the pool at 6.15am so no breakfast first. I had a banana which I nibbled over half an hour – this also kept me amused, swimming can be very boring. After 1.5 hours my arms started to get tired. I had decided that due to a shoulder injury a few weeks ago – I did this carrying logs for my fire at home, think Cinderella by the hearth, that’s me every morning 🙂 – and the recent chest infection, I would do one length front crawl/one length breast stroke for the duration. This worked well. After two hours my arms are still tired and I’m bored, I had a gel to liven me up.
But then it’s 2.5 hours and I’m finished for the day. Absolutely shattered, probably not helped by running a half marathon the previous day. A quick breakfast with Ian in Taunton before he set off for London and then home to rest. It seemed like a long week ahead.
6.4km 2hrs 25 mins, Lap Counter: Tara (good friend and cycle buddy)
I met Tara outside the Nuffield where I’m doing the challenge. My first words: “sorry to get you up so early” It was 6.15am. In the pool by 6.25am. The Nuffield had kindly given me my own lane, but it was hard to enforce as when I arrived someone was already in my lane. Not really a problem, I just swam with him. I have never seen the pool so busy. Most mornings there are only two or three people in the whole pool, but today it was full. It meant that I had someone with me for most of my swim. But a good turn over of people kept it interesting.
Tara counted out my laps as Ian had the day before, shouting out the number every ten lengths. This meant I didn’t have to think much and I was often surprised when ten lengths came round (about every five minutes) – in a world of my own.
Another banana and gel . Had a feeling that Wednesday would start to seem like Ground Hog day!
6.4km, 2hrs 25, Lap Counter – Adi (my sister)
The alarm woke me up at 5am – it’s just too early, even for me, a morning person. Another day, another swim. Arrived again at 6.15am and met my lovely sister Adi – we were both sleepy. Today’s staff didn’t seem to know anything about my challenge, but a chair was soon rustled up for Adi and another swim began.
Today’s laps were counted in Spanish – it’s the small things. Kept Adi amused and me too. She leant forward every ten lengths with a big smile on her face and said the length number. Adi even threw in the odd curve ball by walking to the other end and shouting out an odd number – like I say, it kept us amused.
The pool was super quiet today and I only had someone join me for ten minutes of so. This was also the day where my arms started aching from the very beginning and the constant chlorine was irritating my nose – lots of sneezing during and after.
Another 284 lengths done, only two more early starts.
6.4km, 2hrs 25 mins, Lap Counter – Zoe Green (daughter number one)
Poor Zoe only went to bed at 1am the night before so me getting her up at 5.15am was tough. But she was very jolly about it and happy to help.
Today was pretty much like the other days – up/down/up/down/banana/gel/up/down…
So OVER swimming by this point. Zoe did her best to keep me motivated and did a great job of shouting out the lengths. She also busted out some rather bendy yoga moves at the side of the pool – sitting down for two and hours is not much fun and it gave me something to watch. She also chatted with other swimmers and let them know what I was doing.
6.4km, 2hrs 25 mins, Lap Counter – Adi (again)
Poor Adi had to do two shifts! I only have so many people in my life who I can make get up at 5am to come and count lengths (also most people I know have to go to work).
More Spanish!! and lots of encouragement. I thought the last day would seem easier because…well it was the last day. But from the minute I got in I wanted to finish. I was tired and just fed up with being the pool. Even the first hour went slowly. I did chat to a few other swimmers though. A few regulars, who were interested in what I was doing and were encouraging. I also got a couple of nice donations for my Asthma UK charity – which did help motivate me to keep going.
Finally it was all over.
I want to say a huge THANK YOU to my lap counters. Ian who is not a morning person at all, and had to rush off to London to go to work straight afterwards. Tara, who fitted me in between night shifts with the Samaritans, working and dog walking. Zoe who gave up sleep and study time to help me and finally my lovely sister Adi, who did not one but two shifts, during her holiday from work when she should have been enjoying lots of lie-ins but instead got up super early to shout very high numbers in Spanish at me. I couldn’t have done it without you all.
Thanks to the Nuffield too – who let me have my own lane, and to the other swimmers who offered encouragement.