I decided to make the most of the beautiful weather today and go for a little swim in the sea. Managed an hour and a quarter in the water, my record so far. Although with everyone sunbathing on the beach I did look a bit out of place afterwards shivering uncontrollably, dressed in ski gear.
Swimming in the sea does come along with a certain challenge I hadn’t experienced before – waves. Whilst I would like to say the waves were so huge they would have scared off all but the world’s top surfer dudes. Unfortunately, in reality they were probably less than two-foot high. Obviously very similar conditions to the middle of the English Channel.
Any decent swimmer doing the channel will swim front crawl though, so they can breathe from either their left or right side. This makes life easier when it comes to swimming in waves hitting you on one side as you simply breathe from the opposite side.
Of course I cannot swim front crawl, only breaststroke. With waves coming straight at you, it seems nature times them to hit you in the face just as you are trying to grasp a breath. The result is swallowing water instead of air. Which isn’t ideal, as air can be quite useful. To drink a mouthful of lovely fresh seawater every ten strokes doesn’t sound too bad. However, do that every ten strokes for over an hour and you end up drinking more than Freddie Flintoff after winning the world cup.
Also, waves suddenly turn a nice pleasant swim, into trying to swim in a washing machine on a fast cycle. On top of that, the waves churn up so much sand you cannot see six inches in the water. Which also means that I am now knocking back a delicious, savoury cocktails of sea water laced with sand.
The most annoying aspect to deal with though is still the cold. It seems to affect my hands the most, turning them into bent, frozen claws. After the first half an hour it becomes impossible to keep my fingers straight or together, which is actually quite useful for effective swimming. Also completely rules out trying to put on ski gear with buttons after the swim.
For the relay I am hoping to only have to swim in total for four hours, so just need to treble what I am doing so far. Still got 5 weeks to go though, so plenty of time. Maybe surprisingly, but I am actually really chuffed with myself that this is the closest I have been to being on target with my training so far.