Day 3: Swim # 2 The Dam Swim
Off we head to the River Lee in Cork, it is an hour drive, the plan to start swimming from the dam and time our departure with water being released down the river sweeping us down to our exit point.
We gather for instructions, ” One bin here for the 4km, put your feed in, this bin here is for the 8km if you want a drink then, there are dangerous rocks and a fallen bridge close to the surface, you will get out of the water at 4km, walk around the weir, down the rocks and back into the river, at the 8km you get out again, you need to be very careful getting back in, this is the most dangerous part of the swim, there will be emergency blankets at the 4km and 8km stops if anyone needs to get out”
With that we go about getting ready for the car pool 8km to the dam…..
Down to the waters edge we go, I am feeling pleased, rumor has it the water is 14-15 degrees Celcius ( 57.2-59 F ), I have myself mentally prepared for a balmy float down the river, we buddy up, I am swimming with Colm and Ned, we line up by the waters edge, I am the one in the black suit, all hunched over looking cold….
We wade a little deeper, my heart rate begins to rise as I feel the water, it does not feel balmy, the water does not feel balmy to me at all…..
Soon we are off, a mass of swimmers all being pushed down the river, the rocks zoom by underneath my belly, it is fun swimming and feels fast, Ned, Colm and I group together and we swim on weaving in and out of swimmers, stopping for a smile here and there with other swimmers along the way, when the water is too shallow to stroke we kick our feet only, I am feeling cold already and we are not even at the 4km, I nervously scan the banks wondering where I could get if needed, I know I have no choice but to swim on to the 4km stop, I put cold thoughts out of my head but they keep flooding back in, ” mind you are not cold”, I command, my mind replies ‘ hey lady did you notice that your feet feel like lead blocks and they are slamming against the rocks, you are cold, you are cold, YOU ARE COLD”. I swim on,” must swim harder, must swim harder”, my stroke feels long and powerful, a good sign that I am not slowing down, ” swim on” I say to myself.
I am not feeling relaxed, relived, I see the 4km feeding station, Ned arrives first, I follow, ” I just can’t bail at 4km, I just can’t” I say to myself, I emerge out of the water, the cool air temperature hits me like a punch in the gut, I see Robbin, thank goodness wonderful Robbin is there, she passes me my feed and I tip it back, we take a few minutes on shore, my body starts to shake, yet I find myself walking towards the rocks to enter the water again, Robbin looks concerned I feel scared…
I follow Colm to the river once more, my ice block feet stumble over the rocks…..
Then we are in the river ” Made my decision, hurts but you have to live with it for the next 4km, 45 minutes, I look at my watch, the water is 13 degrees, (55.4F), ” I have to swim this fast”, I have already decided that 8km is it for me today, I feel small and unworthy, yet I swim….”
We pick up the pace, I feel a sense of urgency with each stroke, this is it, stay focused for 4km, I smash into rocks on the knees and feet, my feet hurt, now too my ankles and lower legs, my head is throbbing, my mind is dictating the outcome of this swim, I am aware of it but can’t seem to rope it in, the normal tricks of you feel great are shunted away by ” I AM COLD”. Last resort, my 10 greens bottles hanging on the wall song, I sing it slow over and over, 30 minutes down, “I know I can make another 15 minutes, keep singing”, I say to myself and I do.
Corner after corner the river continues to wind, finally we arrive at the 8km, I stumble out of the water, Robbin is there with my feed, ” I don’t want it”, I mumble, game over for me, Robbin wraps me up in the tiger blanket, I have no shoes or clothes, she puts her arm around me and with the help of Brynn and we shuffle along what seems like a very long stony path, I wince with each step, into the car and I hide under the blanket, I feel deflated, down and disappointed.
Pete drives us back to the finsh location with a few other swimmers who have exited, I change out of my suit and sit in the car, after a while I get out and listen to the cheers as the swimmers arrive at the finish of the river swim, I look down at my corpse like feet, I am cross that I did not finish the swim.
Into the car we all go for the ride home, then into the shower and food. I reflect on the day, a stumble and fall, back to the tiger blanket, I spend the next hour or so working through the diasppointment, after a bit I write a few notes in my journel…
” Move on, put today’s swim to bed, 2 early exit swims, use it wisely, fuel the fire….Get your head in the right place and by the way, 1.5 hours at 55 F is not a failure, today you had 8km of success.”
There done, and with that I let go and begin to look forward to tomorrow mornings swim.
What will tomorrow bring? I’ll keep you posted
It’s not the falling down, it is how quickly you get back up