Day 9 :Sandycove Island 6 Hour swim
Here it is, the final swim in Ireland, swim number 17 and the Irish have turned on a stellar morning for the final day, clear skies, little to no wind and a brisk air temperature of 10 degrees.
I awake early, the skies get light at 4:15am in Kinsale which still astounds me even after watching the sunrise for 11 mornings since my arrival, 11 mornings, 9 of them awakening me to the grim thought of emerging into that 11-13 degree water for as long as my body will function, I shudder at the thought this morning of one final swim.
I make Robbin a morning cup of tea, then on to mixing my feeds, Maxim and wild berry juice from the local Supervalue, next up porridge and toast, then into the car and down to Sandycove, the parking lot is alive with activity as swimmers prepare their supplies for the 6 hour swim, there is a boat ready to take the feeds to the island, I place my feeds in the B Bin for Brynn.
Then we gather for our final morning meeting, ” Today is about us helping you, we will be on the island ready to give you your feeds, whatever you need we are here to help”, says Ned, with that we go about getting ready to go, that’s me and Carol, last year Carol was helping with the 6 hour swim, in fact she helped me a great deal, this year she has shed her wetsuit and is swimming too…..
We wait for the final instructions and then watch as the boats take our feeds over to the island….
The tide is on it’s way out and will be low tide in 2 hours, that means walking to get around the island, my plan is 2 laps then I will swim on the inside of the island, we enter the water….
I am the one dawdling in the back, I like to ease into the water, we are off, we head out towards the first corner because of the outgoing tide the sea is heavy with thick seaweed and the rocks are exposed, ” take it slow to avoid slicing yourself”, I coach myself as I weave through the shallows, once through the narrow bit we are off, I swim alongside Carol and Jenn, I like swimming with them, the water feels colder than usual, I push a little harder, ” my last laps of Sandycove, be sure to notice how amazing this island is”, I think to myself and I do as I whizz by the jagged rocks, the grassy knoll of the island, the wild goats that live on the island and the dramatic surf that crashes onto the rocks, “amazing, what a gift to swim here”, I think.
Round we go to complete lap one, for me a pit stop in for a feed, it is so shallow I have to stand up and walk in, Ned is there waiting with my feed, my skin chills against the cool morning air, then back in the water for lap 2, around I go, I feel great, how exciting, ” much better than last year’, I think, once more I head in to feed, I see Ned’s frame holding my feed cup, I stand and wade through the water, it takes a while, down with the feed and out I go swimming on the inside of the island, I swim down to the far corner, then turn around and come back for another feed, again and again, each time my jaw clenches a little tighter, my hands claw up a bit more and I feel my feet less and less, I am unsure how far I am swimming before I come back in for a feed, I am confused, I am not aware of any other swimmers, of nothing but my feed cup and the fact that I must not stop swimming between feeds, each time I get out of the water for a feed it hurts more to get back in, as I swim away from Ned I try to spin my arms as fast as I can, ” if my stroke rate drops he will pull me out, if my stroke rate drops he will pull me out”, I repeat it over and over in my mind, it is my mantra, ” Must Not Slow Down”
I swim in yet again, Ned and Donal are there, ” where does your sister live”, he asks, I am pretty sure I say ” ahh California”, with that I swim away, thrilled that I have tricked clever old Ned himself into thinking I am as sharp as a tack, Off I swim, admittedly struggling a bit, down and back on the inside of the island only to the closest buoy this time, it is the smallest of distances, then back to feed, I stand up to be greeted by Ned holding his long arm pointing sternly to the shore, I am done, ” guess there is no fooling Ned, he knows me and hypothermia better than I do”, I accept defeat and swim in, I am pleased, this year the 6 hour swim went better than last and I did not stop swimming between feeds, excellent.
So what was the water temperature? 11 degrees celsius ( 51F)
I head off to shower and change, then back to wish our fellow Distance week buddies farewell, many will be in Dover, including Colm who is in my tide window, we have the same pilot Neil Streeter in Suva, he is number 1 and I am number 2, I am thrilled to know he is the swimmer before me, we swim well together and if I’m lucky we will be able to taper train in Dover Harbor together…..
Farewell Kinsale, Cork County, Ireland
So what is left, a farewell to Kinsale of course but also a reflection on the past week, so here it is:
” Hard lessons and tough conditions both mentally and physically, that will serve me well in the channel”
I ponder some more, and read an extract from Heidi Grant Halvorsen
Believing that the road to success will be rocky leads to a greater success because it forces you to take action. People that are confident that they will succeed and are equally confident that success won’t come easily, put in more effort, plan how they will deal with problems before they arise, and persist longer in the face of difficulty.
And here is the key….
Realistic optimists believe they will succeed, but also believe they have to make success happen- through things like effort, careful planning, persistence and choosing the right strategy
And for me coming to Ireland was miserable, tough, painful, incredibly satisfying, a good bit of fun and it was the right strategy to prepare for the English Channel…….I am pleased and grateful to Ned and all my fellow distance week swimmers, bye Kinsale….
Oh and What was my answer to Ned’s question… Where does your sister live?
Well let me give you a hint, later that day once I was warmed up Ned said ” by the way your sister does not live in Tasmania”