Wednesday Morning EARLY, today is the first of two swims both leaving from Sandycove Island.
This morning I awake to a beautiful sky, it shows all the signs of a morning swim with SUNSHINE, ahhhhh YES sweet sunshine to warm my skinny penguin back! I have been wearing a black suit on purpose for every swim so far, black because I know the dark color will draw any heat there is up for grabs from the sun, whether makes a difference or not physiologically I don’t much care, but mentally my primitive brain knows it to be true and I believe the difference is huge on a day the sun is out and I milk it for all it’s worth. Today is such a day.
Since my visit with Amelda I have been thinking alot about pace, she asked me my pace and I garbled out 100, 200 and 400 meters cruise set paces from the pool….didn’t help much, then I told her my average mile pace from my 25km Open Water swim less than 2 weeks ago, still not there, she was looking for a kilometer/hour pace, one that my English Channel Pilot can use to guage my speed to help him determine a departure time and location from England, all dependent on the conditions on the day and ME!
Amelda suggested a comfortable pace for 2 laps around Sandycove Island would be the way to get a pace time, after meeting with her I couldn’t wait to give it a ” good old kiwi try”, so this morning I rolled myself out of bed at 4:30am, giving me a little extra time for 20 minutes of Yoga, then breakfast made by Robbin, 2 eggs on toast and porridge, hot tea and 500 mls of Maxim, my carb drink.
Off to Sandycove we go, we are not late PHEW! The swimmers are milling around chatting, I quietly move towards Ned, ” can I have a word to you in private”? , I ask Ned, we move a few paces away from the chatter of the group, he starts before me, ” you’re not feeling good are you”, ” No I’m GREAT”, I reply, ” you’re always great, aren’t you”, Ned replys back, I think for a moment and smile, ” well yes I am mostly good, well GREAT”. I sense that Ned thought after last nights nose bleed swim and repeated frosty freeze experiences I might be sitting this swim out, or worse the rest of the week, I don’t know for sure if that is what he thought I was going to tell him, I did not ask because what I was asking about was…….” I have a plan this morning, I want to swim 2 laps at a comfortable pace to get a feel for my kilometer per hour pace, will you help me?” YES, said Ned, you set the pace, we will swim 2 laps. I am bubbling with excitement, I love having a mission, I scurry off to get ready to swim.
Me and all the other penguins make our way down the slipway, one by one we fall off into the water, I am excited this morning not only because of my plan and the sunshine one my back but because today the water feels NICE! Opps did I really say that, yes I did I feel more comfortable today and less like an ice cube in a someones drink, I am able to enjoy stretching out into a comfortable pace, I am taken back by the beauty of all I see under the water, the sea weeds swaying from side to side moving with the swell of the ocean like they are in a waltz, the frothy white foam of the water as it breaks on the rugged rocky sides of Sandycove and the rocks themselves under water, they have the most interesting crevices changing the shade of the rock here and there, then there are the barnacles, fierce little barnacles that cover each rock, I learn today that cutting it too fine where clearance of a rock is concerned results in a short sharp reprimand from the rock, those barnacles are sharp, one little brush of my toe slices it open this morning. There are other things to look at, crabs scuttling along the bottom, seals looking for those crabs and fish, lots of fish darting around this way and that, I wonder when a school of fish all change direction in unison and go in exactly the opposite way whose idea it was…OK which one of you decided to dart that way! None of the little fish fess up and they swim off.
When we get around the back side of the island the sea gets rougher, I am jostled about, Ned and I are swimming along like a pair of bumper boats, WHAM Ned’s hand punches my in the right eye, SMACK my hand punches him in the nose, BAM Ned’s hand punches me in the same spot on the right eye ramming my goggle further into the socket, ” that’s going to leave a mark”, I giggle to myself as we swim on. As we round corner 3 we ride the tide in, too much fun, body surfing in towards the feed station, I LOVE it and although I can’t wait for my hot feed that Owen has ready for me in the dingy I am more excited about swimming around again for lap 2 so I can ride the surf again.
Feed down and off for lap 2, before I know it we are surfing around the back corner of the island again and we are making the pull for home, the red house is in sight and we make a beeline for it, the Red House is a double edge sword, it is so uplifting because it is the symbol of completion the gateway to the slipway, on the other hand their is a menacing strong current right along side it, you have to give it all you’ve got to make through this current, it is like fighting the dragon in front of the castle.
We fight, we fight and we fight some more, I turn on my best interpretation of sprinting to the French shore, it is no where in sight, I swim on pulling even harder, Ned begins to pull away, he is so well practiced in sprinting to Cape Gris France, so well in fact that he had the shores of France achieving a solo crossing of the English Channel, his experience shows this morning, regardless I stick to his bubbles and land on the slipway not far behind him.
What a good result I am not cold, DREAMS DO COME TRUE! I walk out of the water unassisted, thank Ned and talk to Robbin as she and I head to the car to get dressed. What fun. It urns out that 2 laps is 3.1km, I average out my time to round it up to 3.5km and come to the conclusion that this mornings swim was a 3.5km/hour pace, looking back a bit too slow but I certainly did enjoy myself. Another exciting thing is that Amelda has come out to swim, I was hoping she may swim this morning, I want to thank her for all the wonderful information, she in turn has put together some reading material for me which is super helpful, we exchange before she swims, ” are you free this afternoon? I have an hour at 2pm for us to talk a little more”, a beaming smile from me and a “YES! 2pm I’ll be there”
Robbin and I head back to the apartment, me to shower and stretch, Robbin to wash out all my swim supplies to get ready for the afternoon swim and make me a big brunch, what a wonderful support, I feel thankful.
After a nap it is off to meet Amelda, I did not nap much instead I sat up in bed writing notes, I want to share my 2 lap pace with Amelda and some other thoughts.
I pushed some numbers around and listed the following to share with Amelda
Today’s swim was 54 minutes for 3.1km, rounding up the distance = 3.5km/hour swim pace
Racing 25km my 5km splits were:
# 1 – 5km 1 hour 18 minutes
# 2 -5km 1 hour 23 minutes
# 3 -5km 1 hour 23 minutes
# 4 -5km 1 hour 27 minutes ( wind and waves)
# 3 -5km 1 hour 27 minutes ( wind and waves)
What I like most about this is not just the 7 hours and 1 second swim time but more the consistancy, the first 5km I planned to go out hard, then hold my strongest possible pace with out blowing up, lap 2 and 3 5 km times where within 20 seconds of each other, then the conditions got more challenging slowing my progress, but the exciting thing is my pace stayed steady, laps 4 & 5 within 10 seconds of each other. From this effort I calculated my kilometer per hour pace at a little under 4km/hour.
With these numbers and a few other thoughts jotted down on my yellow sheet of paper I am off, we once more see Amelda, it is like seeing an old friend, we start immediately talking, I ask her what it was like to take those first few strokes from Dover and what it felt like as she saw the bottom at the French shore….I listen, I can’t write a thing I am memorized by her description, not just the words but her energy, the glow of her face the sparkle in her eyes, it is like she is right back in the channel in the thick of her swim and I am there with her, FANTASTIC!
What a ride for me to live part of that journey with Amelda on this rainy afternoon in Kinsale, Ireland. Then she begins to tell me about crewing for others, she has the best ideas, ones that I would not have thought of, ones that she has learned by experience andwhat she has observed and learned when she has captained a crew, stories of emotional spouses and or partners whose faces and words were not the best motivation for the swimmer, ” the last thing a swimmer needs to do is see a girlfriend or boyfriend in distress shreiking your name while you are swimming”, I shudder,” yes that sounds exhausting”, I think to myself.
Amelda says some things I just have to write down….
NOT GET IN CONTACT WITH NEGATIVITY
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF YOU CAN GET ACCROSS THE CHANNEL
DON’T LOOK BACK THERE IS NOTHING TO BE GAINED BY LOOKING BACK
UPLIFTING IS GREAT
From there she tells us some crew details…
Only one swimmer communicates with the swimmers at a time
Short concise uplifting comments or words are best
Big Green poster board to signal 5 minutes to feed time
Big Red poster board to signal time to feed
These are just a few of the wonderful bits of information, in picking your crew swimmers are best, non swimmers are OK as long as they have a task, someone to captain your crew vital.
I ponder, I have been pondering this for 24 hours, I want to ask this amazing person if she can recommend someone to captain my crew, someone who is a swimmer, someone who has been in the Channel and knows unpredicatability, it is clear I need a captain.
” Amelda, it is clear to me that I need a captain to head up my crew, a swimmer who knows the channel, has experience and most importantly clicks and feels right, you are welcome to say no to the following question………. I would like to ask you if you can recommend someone to head up my crew and I can’t ask you that without first asking you if YOU would consider being my captaining my crew, you are amazing and I can’t think of another person in the world I would rather have, it is OK to say no and you do not need to answer right now, I can’t ask you to recommend someone else without first letting you know that you are incredible”
Amelda smiles, where are you looking to find someone from? she asks, ” anywhere in the world”, I reply. On we chat, so much to talk about so little time, we get one last picture and I open up a bag of goodies that Amelda has brought for me, inside is an English Channel Solo hat, “this is for when you get back onto the boat after reaching France”, a swim cap that says” When the tough get going the Sprinters get out and an English Channel T Shirt ” Nothing great is easy”, how funny I just thought of that the other day and it is a quote from Captain Webb the first man to cross the English Channel.
What a time, if all I had done in Ireland was meet Amelda it would be the ” best trip ever” and with that I am off the get ready for tonight’s swim at 7pm.
Later this afternoon as I am getting ready for tonights swim I receive an email from Ned..
Subject Line: Amelda is it
Email Content: Cheers
I blurt it out to Robbin and we jump for joy around the apartment like two school kids, I keep saying ” pinch me, pinch me Robbin, I can’t believe this is happening, how can this be so, I am the luckiest girl in the world”, as you can see I am quite excited, Amelda said yes, never in my wildest dreams would this happen, I feel Dover racing closer and I could not be more excited.
Closing thought: We do not remember days we remember moments
I will never forget the moment I read that email……. Amelda is it