Yip, still 4th of July and this is the third adventure of the day, time for swim number 2, on our schedule is Church Bay 6-9pm, a 1.5 hour drive, we meet at the Supervalu in the town center of Kinsale at 5pm to car pool. The town center is a bustle of busy narrow streets, tightly lined with houses rich in history, I look and imagine each house newly built and the families that lived within them, the streets absent of cars, the clip clop of the horses on the streets, the smell of the manure they drop and the chamber pots that may have been emptied out of the houses and how they navigated disposing of the town sewerage. The town was chartered in 1334 and has enjoyed a reputation as a port of consequence, mainly through fishing and shipping, it is a pretty little town, lying snug between hills and valleys, safely sheltered by the rounded contoured harbour, the roads are winding and narrow, there is a wealth of historical buildings some built as early as the 1300s, with a surge of building in the 1600s.
In 1601 Kinsale became the Cockpit of Europe with the armies of England, Spain and the Northern Irish Chieftains in Contention. The Irish army under O’Neil & O’Donnell was defeated and after an occupation of the town lasting 100 days the Spanish was granted safe passage back to La Coruna. The result of the battle was the end of the Gaelic way of life in Ireland and the breakdown of the power of the Chieftains and Clans. Kinsale however remained an important British Garrison town until the 20th century. Source Kinsale Tourist Information Area Map
We depart Kinsale, a line of 4 cars enroute to Church Bay, we are pleased to be following the locals in the group saving us from the challenging task of “finding our own way”, we weave in and out of valleys, over bridges and through towns, I gaze at the town pubs, they look cosy and tight knit.
My goal this week is to keep hydrated and feed, (along with surviving of course), to keep my energy up and allow myself to pee in the water before and during my swims, this involves tipping back alot of water and my Maxim Carbo drink, easier than it sounds when you have a 90 minute drive to navigate….by the time we all meet in a parking lot in a town close to our swim I am desparate to pee, I get out of the car and survery the scene, we are in a parking lot in the middle of a “round a bout”, cars are zipping everywhere, our training group has stopped briefly ready to drive on, I impulsively dash across the parking lot, across the busy road and leap onto the top of a fence and onto a bank, there are some trees and a bit of a dirt path, not much cover from the road but at this point I don’t care, as I jump onto the bank I see a group of local teenagers, 6-8 teens aged about 16-18 years old are leaning on the fence in a circle smoking, they instantly turn to look at me, ” Hey, I am going to pee right over here, I point to my left,” are you cool with that, I have to GO REALLY BAD?” They look gobsmacked, as I talk I drop my sweatpants, my swim suit is on underneath, I leave it on and pee, and pee and pee and pee and pee, what a relief, I emerge from the bushes and fist punch “YES”, the bewildered group are not sure wheather to laugh, scowl or approach, one of the girls asks ” can I have a smoke from you”, I reply, ” a pee for a smoke that sounds like a fair exchange, but I don’t smoke and have none, sorry,see ya”, and with that I was gone. How strange for them and for me, I jump back in the car and resume drinking Maxim….” that’s one way to meet the locals”, I say to Alan and Robbin, “I hope we reach the beach soon” I think to myself, “then I can pee in the sea.”
It is another 15-20 minutes before we all find the beach we are swimming from, the weather has got rough since we left Kinsale, the wind has picked up, it is raining and the temperature is dropping , when we get out of the car the air is 16-18 degrees C
We quickly meet to discuss the swim, out of the Bay along the coastline, it is rough, then when we get to the point, we decide within our swim groups if we continue to Church Bay, if we continue we swim there, turn around and swim back. Ned groups me with Atlanta Alan, who lives in Montreal, Billy, the 13 year old power house who Ned is mentoring and me the skinny pengiun, who is sporting a new growth of blond leg hairs in a feeble attempt to make a difference in retaining heat, whether it helps physically or not I don’t know but in my head it will make a difference out there today.
The wind is blowing up around on the beach, we walk into the surf, the waves are pounding onto the beach, Alan looks over, ” the water isn’t too bad tonight”, his comment about the water helps me tremendously,” excellent”, my mind takes over..” this water is warmer than Sandycove was this morning”, I relax and pee of course!
It is the roughest water to date this week, tossing us all about as we swim, waves crashing, I LOVE IT and pull hard excited, we are swimming as a group, my body wants to race off, my mind is in control, I pull long and hard and swim steady and stick with my group, my eyes are on Billy and Alan and of course Ned, I follow him. The coastline is rugged, I see the white foam of the waves as they crash into the sharp coastal edge, the sky is dark, the rain pounds, it is exciting. There are patches where the water is very cold and others where it feels warmer, I look up to sight occassionally, in the back of my mind their is a quiet thought, “there is no exit point, where ever we swim, we have to swim back”. I am waiting for the point where we make the call, it doesn’t appear,” patience, Charlotte, patience”, I reassure myself. Thoughts of ” NOT BLOODY LIKELY” in response to the question soon to be discussed by Ned. Finally the time for the question arrives, we have passed the point of no return and are now only 500 meters from Church Bay,will one of the other swimmers want to turn back or swim on, I am a destination swimmer and really really REALLYwant to make it to the beach and feel the sand under my feet, I want to imagine it is the french shore and I am walking up it, then there is that quiet voice in my head ” you are getting colder by the minute”
Finally Ned pulls up, I swim alongside and tread, ” we are 500 meters from the beach, swim on or turn back?”, before I know it my mouth has open( a good sign that my jaw is not locked shut) and words blurt out like bullets, ‘ SWIM ON TO THE BEACH PLASE”, Ned turns to Alan and Billy, Charlotte says swim on and we are off…..we swim on, we are committed to an extra 1000 meters and a return swim back. In a sort while I feel a tug on my ankle, I stop and look up a massive freighter is going by, it is huge, later Robbin tells me that from the beach it looked like it was going to run us over, ” 20 stories high” she said, for us in the water it did not feel that close but it did look that big. On we swim, pull, pull, pull and into the narrow, isolated beach, we all stand around in the water, I pee and we set about getting home. Oh boy, ” I have to swim back”, my quiet vice says in my mind, too proud to say the words out loud. This is good for me, I have no choice but to see this swim out, the other option is smashing into the cliff with one of the crashing waves, I noticed my body temperature began to start dropping well before the beach, my pull is starting to lose power, ” strong, low steady strokes”, I remind myself over and over in my head, ” swim, swim , swim”, my mantra.
I glance to Billy swimming by my side, 13 years old this young swimmer is amazing, Alan swimming there too and Ned leading the charge home. I know we are going to make it, it is hard but we are going to do it together as a team. The swim home seems to take forever yet is like a snap of the fingers, so hard to fathom.
We surf into the shore, ” this is your landing on the shores of France, he turns and faces out to sea with Billy and thrusts his arm up in the air, I do the same I am elated, it was a tough, rugged and good swim, I am pleased.
Robbin is on the beach to greet me with my Swimming Hole towel, I take it to all my swims, I love seeing her jacket on the beach when I swim in, coming home to her, I feel like a homing pigeon returning to her after each swim.
Next up dressed and wrapped in a blanket, I feel very nautious, I have taken in more mouthfuls of sea water than usual and I feel like I am going to throw up, Robbin says I look green, I double over as she walks me to ” pooh bin”, I can’t stomach my usual hot chocolate or chocolate biscuits, Ned hops in the car and points at the white washed cottage in front of us, ” I’ve painted that technicolor, on more than one occasion” and with that he is gone, it makes me feel better.
90 minutes later we arrive home at 11:30pm, shower, force down some food and in bed by 12:45am with the alarm set for 4am, another swim is just around the corner, tomorrow morning fresh water, how will that feel, I’ll keep you posted. Oh….. and get this as we drove away from my pee adventure around the round-a-bout I noticed a Public Toilet!
Today’s swim time: 1 Hour and 20 minutes, the water temperature 13-14 degrees C ( 57-58F )