Well I guess the preamble took a lot longer than I had initially thought. But where I am now is some fairly solid swimming in the pool (60 km in July), mostly indoors in the warm pool, but occasionally in the local Jesus Green Lido in Cambridge, where each length is 100 yards, in a wetsuit. I wouldn’t say I am any kind of speed demon, but the times I am doing now for my typically 1 km sets have been creeping down with increased work, and improved bilateral breathing. Currently my average is about 1 min 40 per 100 over 4 or 5, 1 km sets. The back and the shoulders are also now feeling pretty strong.
My short term goal is for later in the summer when I take part in the annual OSS Dart 10K.
This happens in the River Dart in Devon, and is a (probably) tidally-assisted 10 kilometers downstream. I say probably, as there are no guarantees, only that last year people said it felt more like 8-9 km. Still it is something to train for and look forward to, and should provide a significant challenge for me. Wetsuits are compulsory unless consent is given by the organisers, which is why I have been hitting the Lido to try and build up some miles with wetsuit on. Up until now though, I have never swum further than 6 km in a single visit to the pool, or been in the water for longer than 2 hours. I aim to have got a few 8-9 km swims under my belt before the big day…..
Once I have completed this event (I hesitate to call it a race), I will then be in a much better position to set my sights firmly on where I might go from there. 10 km Is by most people’s judgement a fair distance to be swimming, but there is a lure of ‘bigger things’ out there that has started to call me over the last 6 months. And one of the biggest, and for sure the most iconic, is the English Channel.
In this age of YouTube, blogging and social media, there is a huge amount of material relating to swimming the channel that you can find with some simple keyword searches. I don’t propose to reproduce any more of that than I need to: just go and look if you do not already know. But you will not need long to discover that swimming the Channel is non-trivial. You had better be trained up to the eyeballs, and preferably a little lucky with the weather and circumstances, otherwise you are going to get your backside firmly spanked in attempting it.
I am now pencilling in a date of about 2 years from now to be ready for this sort of challenge. Coincidentally, about 2 years ahead of time is about what you need to book a pilot/boat, which is going to force my hand pretty soon.
Luckily, I have an awesome reason for doing it. It would be wrong of me to say it is any better than anyone else’s awesome reason(s), but I will certainly not be lacking motivation in the long and cold months ahead.
Next time I will talk a little about my reason.