Saturday July 2nd: Swim # 2 : 7pm at Blackwater River
( Swim upstream, turn around at the mansion, swim downstream to start)
Water: 14.8 degrees F ( 58 ish)
Air: 18 degrees F
FLOATING COW RIVER
After meeting some of the group in Kinsale we drive 1 hour to BlackwaterRiver, we mill around and wait for the rest of the group to arrive, during that time meeting more swimmers, amazing swimmers, Owen who had just met the queen a few days ago, the youngest Irish swimmers to cross the English Channel, the other equally amazing swimmer is Billy, 13 years old, powering through the water, in preparation for his turn to swim the Channel, he has to wait until he is 16 years old for a ratified swim.
Everyone gathers at a rowing club, who kindly offer us there locker room and HOT SHOWERS!
Ned gathers the group outside to go over the swim, ” course is up the river against the flow, we are Owen’s guests today, stay left, the current is heavier on the right, there is a whirlpool half way up, if you see a cow swirling in it, it is not safe to cross, swim until the mansion, then turn for home, or turn when you see the first swimmers coming back down, it takes me about 1 hour 20 up and 40 minutes back”, Ned finished up and turns us over to Owen, ” there is a fallen tree under the surface on the way up, it is a great swim” , we applaud and move towards the steps, first one in the water, ” it is bath like”, and he is off, next one dives in, next one slips, ” watch it the steps are slippery”, Ned and I follow him in, Ned is again looking out for me and swims by my side, adjusting to a pace that is best for me, I am determined that I am swimming with purpose tonight and am determined to swim strong after this mornings outing.
We pull against the river, long strong strokes, Ned moves me to his right and I am once more forced into that week side breathing, a pain in the you know what, but good for me none the less. The water is black for sure, no visibility, I wonder about the bugs that bite that Ned told us about in the pre swim debrief…” there are biting things out there, you may end up with some welts on your body and they will ooze out fluid, but I’ve watched them ooze and nothing bad comes out”, …..I wonder about the bugs for a bit, I wonder how far we have swum, if we have passed the whirlpool, how long I have been swimming, the water is not unbearable, ” I wonder how long it will feel like this?”
I am a little unsettled with not knowing how to get back if the symptoms from this morning rear their ugly head again, then I see Ned’s long comforting frame in the water beside me, I feel good and trust him, he is watching out for me, I am determined WE ARE SWIMMING TO THE MANSION
We do, we get there first, the water narrows by the mansion, the current is stronger, time to pick up my stroke rate and pull hard, my shoulders are burning ” good this muscular contraction and elevated heart rate will warm me”
Ned andI turn around and head back downstream, it is fun with the current flowing with us I feel fast, Ned stops in and checks in with each group as we pass them on the way back, the first few groups continue up river to the mansion, some of the later groups turn around and head down stream like us. I can tell we are getting close to the finish, there are rowing course buoys on the river I recognise from the start, Ned pulls up and shouts,” 1000 meters, swim hard and you hit Cape Gris ( French side of the Channel), if you miss it another 3 hours”….I PICK IT UP.
There are the welcome home slippery steps, made it! I gingerly step up so as not to slip, ” Great work, great turnaround from this morning”, says Ned, I am elated, I had been determined all day to swim this river strong, my feet did feel like blocks of ice on the way back, but I made it.
We change and stand around drinking hot chocolate, and eating, back the the apartment at 11:00pm, eggs on toast, chocolate and in bed by midnight, sleep did not come easily but it did, up at 5:45am tomorrow for the am swim…..back to SANDYCOVE ISLAND, thoughts of this mornings ejection swim come flooding back, yet it now seems an eternity ago, in reality, it was 17 hours ago and I have had another swim since then…..how will Sandycove round 2 go? You’ll find out tomorrow!
” Things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out”