I was going to post about swim gadgets, but I have been slightly overtaken by events. The main event was a week of holiday with the family. This year we spent the week in Broadstairs in Kent, which is a Betley family favourite. All of the good things about a British seaside resort without most of the slightly tackier things. A great sandy beach and safe swimminig for the kids. Of course it did have the added bonus of providing me with daily access to some lovely sea swimming, and only a hop, skip and a jump from Dover. I took advantage of the situation, and had a swim every morning at breakfast time.
As it happened, this coincided quite closely with low tide in Broadstairs, which meant swimming quite a long way out from the beach, but I soon discovered a convenient buoy at each side of the bay. Navigating was pretty easy once I got the hang of it, as there were convenient headlands in the distance in both directions that I coud steer against, meaning that I wasn’t having to sight the very small buoys too much. I soon learned that at low tide there is a pretty stiff current running north to south parallel to the shore. In the beatiful still sea that I was lucky enough to enjoy every day, I was probably swimming at around 2 miles per hour, while the current was running at about 1.5 miles per hour against me in one direction. Clearly someone in a boat that passed me on the first day didn’t quite know what I was up to, as after about 30 minutes a fast coastguard dinghy arrived enquiring whether I as alright, saying that someone had radioed in about a swimmer ‘struggling against the tide’. ‘Did my stroke look that bad?’, I thought to myself. I assured them that I was OK and off they went.
Sea swimming is so different, but felt pretty good, with the bilateral breathing working very well. I have very little experience of open water, but by the end of the week was really feeling at one with the sea. Having said that, I was always conscious that I was out in the sea on my own, with (probably) nobody watching me, as the lifeguards were not on duty yet. It was also cool (17 degrees) and I am inexperienced, so I never stayed out longer than an hour, just in case.
One other thing we did as a family was to pop down to Dover and meet the man who will be piloting my English Channel attempt almost exactly 2 years from now. I have the first position on the first tide of August 2014 booked in with Chris Osmond and Seafarer II. We located the marina early for our meeting time, so walked down onto the harbour beach. The harbour was mirror smooth, the air temperature very warm, with just a few clouds. As I watched the swimmers slowly traverse the harbour from wall to wall, I imagined how many hours they had spent in less clement conditions earlier on in the year, and imagined myself in their Speedos in years to come. Inspiring and dauting at the same time. We then met Chris who gave me the contract, and showed us Seafarer II.
Since returning from a wonderful warm and sunny week of good food and wine, buckets and spades, I have sent off the deposit. It’s official. There is nothing like parting with a substantial sum of cash to concentrate the mind!