Monday, 7 June 2010

Jersey swim camp

Off to Jersy from 30 May - 5 June for the Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club's swim camp. Run by Sally M-G, this was a mix of a handful of visitiors like myself, and lots of local swimmers. The camp is very different, say, from the Swimtrek camp, which has a very clear focus on the Channel and is structured around the 6 hour qualification swim. Instead, this camp involved a much wider range of abilities / open water experience, and one of the most amazing aspects of the whole week was seeing people achieve their goals and push themselves beyond what they thought they could do. It doesn't matter whether you break 15 minutes for the first time, or 2 hours, or more - nothing compares to that feeling and you can see it on people's faces.

We swam a couple of times a day, mixing up pool sessions with sea swims in various locations around the island. The weather was a bit grizzly at first, and combined with the fairly cold sea temps (c. 13 degrees), it was hard to push up swim times, and there was plenty of post-swim shivering. But later in the week, we had three days of blistering sunshine and were gradually able to push up the amount of time we spent in the water. I peaked last Thursday with a four hour swim in St Catherine's Bay. The temperature of the water was hugely variable, ranging from 13-15 degrees, and it was hard to pass from icy cold patches to deliciously warm bands and back again. But I was pleased to get some distance under my belt, and was feeling pretty comfortable by the end, which was a good boost to my confidence after the struggles I was having earlier in the season.

Other highlights of the week included a hilarious night swim - a 20 minute play swim where all we could see was the different coloured light sticks that everyone had tucked into their goggle straps. Lots of fun, followed by delicious hot chocolate and cake. And then there was my favourite swim of the week - a two hour swim in St Catherine's Bay on the very last day. It was hot and sunny, and after completing my four hours the day before, I decided to take it easier, and had a glorious 2 hours in glass-flat water. I swam with Kasia (another visitor, and Channel aspirant, who went on to break three hours), and local swimmers Heidi and Guy (who both did 2 hours for the first time), and it was peaceful and wonderful. This brought me to a total of 18.5 swimming hours for the week, which felt pretty good.

The final highlight was the club itself - it is an extraordinary group of people, highly committed to swimming, and having successfully incorporated a wide range of ages and abilities in a genuinely inclusive and supportive way. And these people really know how to have a good barbecue, too.

Thanks to Sally, and everyone else for taking such good care of us....and especially to Wendy, Chantelle and all the others who ferried me and the other visitors around to various activities. I'm really looking forward to being back in Jersey at the beginning of July for my Jersey to France swim - fingers crossed for some decent weather.

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