First blog since January. I’ve rather been overtaken by events if I am honest. A very busy life (personal and work) has left little time for blogging, or maybe the inclination has not been there to do so.
There have been a few swimmy events to write about as well!
Two of them were UK cold water events, in Jan/Feb, PHISH at Parliament Hill Lido, and Chillswim in Windermere. For both I was entered to swim the endurance event, as well as a participate in a relay. The relays were fun, and quite short, and at PHISH, the Hejakaro (Helen Gibbs, Jason Betley, Kate Steels-Fryatt, Rory Fitzgerald) managed a very creditable silver in the 4 x 66 m relay!
The endurance events didn’t happen though. For both I scratched before even getting in. Both were around a kilometre in water around the 5C mark. While I did this sort of distance in the river the previous season, I just hadn’t done the work this season. Helen and I had regular dips throughout the winter, but just not the sustained frequency and duration that would prepare me safely for these events.
It takes great dedication to train for distance cold water swimming. The recent rise in popularity of the ice mile (a mile in water sub 5C, in just togs and a hat) has been remarkable. But only the foolish go into these things lightly, and without plenty of appropriate training. While there have not been (to my knowledge) any fatalities during ice mile attempts, some are worried that it is ‘only a matter of time’. This is extreme stuff indeed.
Fortunately, the organised attempts tend to have very good safety cover. Long may the unblemished record continue.
This season I left the dedicated training and hard work to a group of fantastic individuals who I am proud to know, all of whom achieved an ice mile. Each has a story to tell. These include: Kate Steels-Fryatt remarkable in that she is really quite slim, not confirming to the more well-covered norms; Phil Hodges doing it the same year as training for the English Channel; Hazel Killingbeck still only 16 years of age, the summer after conquering the English Channel; Bryn Dymott the first (I think) Welshman, and swimming breaststroke to boot!
I salute you all!
Many lovely winter swims were had though, in the rivers, in Windermere, in unheated lidos, in the North Sea, in Dover after the CS&PF dinner. The Ice Mile will always be there, though I think I really dislike extreme cold a little too much! Helen has done less this year as well, while still picking up her customary hatfull of gold medals at Chillswim!
Training has continued, though I am probably behind where I was last year. Having said that, my ‘big swim’ the Catalina Double is not until 7 weeks later relative to my day in the Channel last year. Helen is deep in training too. The Menorca Channel awaits her in August.
A couple of reasonably big days have come and gone though.
April saw me reliving last year’s 6 hour in La Jolla. This time it was with Kevin Smith (training for Catalina) for the 6 hours in and around the cover rather than up the coast and back. Dan Simonelli (training for SCAR and Catalina) also joined us for the first 4 hours (he was busy rather than anything less than capable!). It wasn’t an easy day, though a few degrees warmer than a year earlier (high 50’s rather than mid 50’s), and the shoulders didn’t appreciate the chop in hours 5 and 6.
A few weeks later, Helen and I participated as a relay team at 2Swim4Life. This brutal event takes place every other year at Guildford lido. The format is simple, At 9 AM on a Saturday morning jump in and swim a mile. On the hour for the subsequent 23 hours, repeat the process. If you are doing this as a relay like me and Helen, it is REALLY hard work. Sleep deprivation and sustained activity get to you by the end, not to mention swimming 12 miles in 24 hours. If you are a soloist, however, it is beyond brutal. One of the toughest events you could imagine as a swimmer, mentally and physically. 23 Chances to not get back in.
And so, after successfully finishing Guildford, we find ourselves in Southern Spain, waiting to swim the Straits of Gibraltar. But more of that later…….