Claire Russell – Channel Swim (part 6) …………..5 weeks to go
En route to France..
Saturday 16th June … training was still in
Dover, but in an event called the Champion of Champions, organised by the British Long Distance Swimming association (BLDSA) an iconic event recognised as being particularly tough.
It consists of 3 swims; 5 miles, 3 mile and 1 mile, with a break in between each swim. The faster you swim, the longer you have to recover before the next one. This event was my main focus last year, but now it’s ‘just’ a training swim.
The sea was beautifully calm at 8am and after my 6-hour qualifier last week, I was feeling confident. Hey… you get breaks! It was overcast, and I forgot to put on sun cream.
During the first swim the wind picked up and the sun came out: a mixed blessing.
The conditions got tougher and tougher, I was working really hard to maintain pace AND continue breathing. I quite enjoy swimming in the chop but, I was really glad to get out after the 5 miles. (3 hours 20)
Swimmers had already started pulling out because of the conditions, and the kayakers were finding it hard going. One even capsized. Nonetheless I prepared for the next stage… ONLY 6 laps this time.The organisers were struggling to keep the marker buoys stationary and I really felt like I was swimming backwards when the buoys weren’t getting any closer. Sighting was almost impossible, all I could see was a wall of water, followed by a face full when trying to breath. My goggles were dislodged a few times by a few ‘wave- slaps’ I was being pushed and pulled and buffeted by the water and starting to feel not very safe.
On the 3rd lap I really wanted out, but…. “I’m swimming the channel soon! I must press on I can’t wimp out now!”
So, I made myself do another lap, by then realising that it will never be this rough on the day.
Windy conditions are one of the main delays for channel swims.
There is no rhythm to the water movement as it bounces off the walls… that’s why Dover Harbour is nicknamed ‘The Washing Machine’ I think I was in the spin cycle.
I have never pulled out of a swim before, but this time it was necessary. I was risking injury by staying in, and I have bigger fish to fry.
Only 56% of the swimmers completed… huge respect to them.
Hay Ho. I still have my hat from last year!
On the Sunday, forecast was for more of the same.
Still feeling bruised and burnt – Surprise! Surprise!
I decided to swim at the lake. This time remembering my P20 factor 30. The water was wonderfully flat, not a wave in sight….Thank you Jesus! I was able to stretch out and really enjoyed my recovery swim. I made a new swim route which will be known as The Union Jack!!
I was hoping to do my first back to back (6 hours and 7 hours) this weekend so being in the lake felt like a bit of a cop out.
The pressure is on for next weekend!