14th May 2016

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So, trying to increase the amount of time I can withstand the cold, I was planning an hour and a half swim. Fifteen minutes longer than I have done before and three quarters of the way to the 2 hours I need to do before they let me on the boat.

When I set off the sea was pretty calm, although after 10 minutes the height of the waves were steadily increasing. Although I was only 50 metres from shore, half of the time I couldn’t see any land as I was in the dip between waves. Although a bit weird, it did seem good practice for the channel swim. The waves were just gentle rolling waves rather than crashing waves so actually quite pleasant to swim in.

However, as the minutes ticked by the sea started to get choppier with the wind really beginning to pick up behind me. This was slightly annoying as the wind kept pushing the swim float I was towing behind me, into the back of my head. Was wondering why I had bought the stupid thing with me.

It went through my mind, ‘I wonder how people do actually drown in rough seas’ as I simply seemed to be swimming on top of the waves. Although a bit scary, the swimming part was pretty straightforward. The sea was still getting worse though, until it dawned on me this now was the roughest sea I have ever swam in.

Maybe it was time to think about getting out the water. However, looking over to the closest land, I could see the sea slamming into the promenade and throwing waves onto the street above it.

If I tried to get out there, it could be difficult to get off the beach without also being slammed into the promenade by the waves. I therefore decided to turn around and swim back along the coast to a high point on the beach I felt it would be safe to get out at.

I was now swimming into the wind and waves though. After very quickly drinking a lot of sea water I was beginning to get an insight how people could, in fact drown in rough seas. The swimming part, or more importantly the breathing part, was no longer pretty straight forward.

A hundred metres later and I was back on dryland and all safe and sound. Looking back out to sea it looked a very different sea to the one I had just experienced. So either I am a complete wuss or it went from a force 10 ‘Storm’ to a force 4 ‘Moderate Breeze’ exactly the same time I escaped its evil clutches. Either way, will be good inspiration for a painting!

However, I had only managed 55 minutes in the sea, so getting behind on training. Obviously I am so looking forward to getting back in the sea again tomorrow for another go. Also thinking that some of the money I raise for charity doing this should go to the RNLI. Maybe a bit more useful when you are in the sea than a life assurance policy.

It was the scariest time I have been swimming, apart from when I swam into a pack of jelly fish. Oh well, at least there won’t be any jelly fish or waves in the English Channel when we come to do the real thing – only a month to go now…