A Bit of Cold(ish) Water Swimming

It’s been a few weeks since I blogged anything.  It took quite a while to get over the cold, which turned into a protracted, but mercifully not too debilitating, chest infection.  During this time, I went with my family to Portugal, staying near the Algarve resort of Carvoiero. 

My sister has a villa near Carvoiero, so we are really lucky to be able to stay for free, just having to pay for our flights out there, and a hire car.  It’s a great place, with room for 2 families, a huge garden, and a small swimming pool.  Not big enough to swim far in mind, but great for the kids.

I was expecting the water to be pretty pleasant; the average temperatures for the sea around this time of year are supposed to be 18-19 C.  I reckon it was a good bit cooler than that though, and very variable as you went in and out of shallower and deeper water.  Note to self – get a thermometer!

The Algarve is spectacular for swimming.  The entire coastline around Carvoiero is strewn with small coves and beaches, with LOADS of caves and arches to explore in between them.  Even better, many of the beaches are difficult to reach in any other way than from the sea, so it was easy to find beaches where I was the only one there.   I was on my own and in unfamiliar territory, so restricted myself to only an hour or so of swimming at any one time.

During the week of holiday, I hit on the idea of arranging a springtime swimming trip next year, and inviting a few other channel aspirants to join me in the Algarve for a week of early season goodness.  Temperatures in March should be in the low to mid teens, when UK and Irish waters are still in single digits.  There should be enormous potential to organise some swim safaris around the local coastline, and even on a couple of days get some boat escort for something longer, or maybe a 6 hour qualifier.

I will put a shout out on the Marathon Swimmers Forum after the summer and see if there are any takers. It’ll certainly be a lot more fun with some like-minded swimmers around.  Swimming and sunbathing during the day.  Barbecues and wine in the evening!

Since returning I have got myself slowly back into the swimming groove, including another visit to Jesus Green Lido last weekend.  The lido has warmed up quite a lot from its early season 13C, to 18C last weekend, which makes a huge difference.  It’s still harder than 28C though, especially with only one push-off every 100 yards.  Still, I managed 10000 yards in 2 hours 42 (5 x 2000 yds) which was OK, and was even toying with the idea of another 2000 yards, but I needed to get home for my tea.   There was a fair bit of shivering during the rewarming process, which was a bit of a worry.  Surely it shouldn’t be happening at 18 degrees?  I guess this is what acclimatisation is all about.

I am off there again tomorrow, to try and get a 4 hour swim in if possible.  Back home for a father’s day roast beef!

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