5 Days after my first training session in Dover Harbour, Helen and I were back today. Recall, last time I emerged from the mirror smooth, deliciously cool waters of the harbour, to rewarm benignly in the beautiful spring sunshine.
It was rather different today:
The flags around the harbour stood out horizontally, and a very tiresome rain moistened everyones clothes, and threatened to dampen their spirits. The water temperature hadn’t changed any since last Monday, still around 11.5C.
Freda called the red hats to attention for the briefing:
I had been expecting 1.5 or 2 hours today, but to my surprise, we were given ‘only’ a single dip of 1 hour. Mainly owing to the conditions, which were variously described as ‘lumpy’ or ‘interesting’. Afterwards, she explained that avoiding injuries from overdoing it in challenging conditions is more important than a huge long swim. Her only other instructions were to not go past the ‘slopey groyne’ towards the north end of the harbour, as even the strongest swimmer was unlikely to get back. The wind was blowing from the south, and fetches the water up towards the north end of the harbour, and creating a washing machine effect that can be extremely challenging to navigate on days far calmer than today.
Barry greased us up and in we went, clambering down the shingle and in to the surprisingly warm feeling water. I guess it felt warm because the air temperature wasn’t anything special, and it was blowing a Force 6. We headed north first of all and soon got to experience some rather invigorating chop. The stroke gets unconsciously modified when you are getting chucked about, and inevitably you go slower. You do not have the security of effortless breathing, always having to bear in mind that you might be breathing into a wave, or having one break over you from an unexpected angle. I duly turned back south 100 m or so shy of the slopey groyne and headed south again.
Shortly after this I had my first collision of the season, running into Bel Lavers. You would have thought that with only 30 or so red hats in the water in an area of water the size of Dover Harbour this wouldn’t happen, but it does, especially if like me you are a bit lazy with sighting…….
The last couple 0f 100 meters into the south wall were blessedly flat in comparison. I retraced my strokes until the hour was up, emerging after 1 h 5 mins in the end, to be handed my crocs by none other than Kevin Murphy, King of the Channel!
I really enjoyed the day, and was untroubled by the cold which was great. A good session. Definitely a bit slower than my first, with only 3.4 k in 1 h 5, vs 4.1 k in 1 h 14 the previous time. I also enjoyed a delicious cup of coffee afterwards in a well known coffee chain just up the harbour front…..
Lastly, here is some YouTube footage from in the water posted my Mark Sheridan. Thanks Mark if you ever read this!!