Claire Russell – Channel Swim (part 4)
En route to France..
Week 3 and still no sunshine. Dover gave us a foggy welcome, all the sunshine is in London for the Royal Wedding… which incidentally was our theme this weekend. I had acquired the appropriate head gear. On Saturday I was tasked with a 2-hour swim, which I was plotting with a GPS watch that I’d borrowed to try. Water had just tipped over 12 degrees, but the air temperature was still only 11 degrees.
The water was quite calm so getting in, acclimatised and on my way was good. I got to the harbour wall and checked the watch, expecting 30 minutes. I was very disappointed with 20 minutes. From then on, the head demons started talking to me. It felt like I was swimming backwards although I managed 3 full circuits of the harbour. The watch said I still had 5 minutes to swim, but I needed to get out. I thought they were going to turf me back in the water to finish. I was greeted with a stern telling off, not for being early but for being late!
Apparently, I had over swum by 20 minutes, and they were concerned about me.
No wonder I was cold!
On Sunday… I was taking no risks. A watch on both wrists, to be sure, to be sure.
I secretly hoped I’d be given a shorter distance after over achieving the day before.
No chance…2.5 hours.
I got into my rhythm really quickly, feeling comfortable in the water, concentrating on technique to minimise injury.After about an hour I really got into my stride, something happened in my shoulders and I just went into auto-pilot. It felt amazing- no room for head demons today, I was powering through and not feeling cold.
No double dipping today, hurrah but recovery is the usual entertaining combination of fumbling and desperation to get the thermals on. As the swim hat comes off- the woolly hat goes straight on. This has an interesting effect on my short spikey hair. Hair care by Solvite!
After today’s swim I was visiting my dad in Tenterden. Finding myself incapable of driving I pulled over in Folkestone service station. An hour later I stroll into the loos, still in my padded trousers and 16 layers plus wallpaper paste hair and a backpack.
I deserved the strange looks, I honestly looked like a tramp!
A change of clothes, head under the tap and Kentucky fried chicken later, (no chips!) I feel vaguely human and ready to be part of the great British summer.