Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Dover weekend and an amazing swim...

When I say "an amazing swim", I'm certainly not talking about one of my own, but rather, that of the awesome Jackie Cobell.

I went down to Dover this weekend, with a view to a getting a couple of decent length swims in before beginning my taper in earnest. On Saturday morning, Tom, Neil, Marty and Trevor were already in doing an 8 hour swim, and Jackie was off on her solo crossing, but I agreed with Freda that I would do a much more modest 5 hours. I had a lovely swim and felt really good when I got out - like I could have done much more (but glad I didn't have to!). Then I hung around waiting for the others to finish....something that took a little longer than I (and they) had anticipated because earlier in the day Freda had spotted them chatting by the wall instead of swimming while she was having breakfast, so she sent them out for an extra half hour! Freda knows everything. But great swims, guys.

By the evening, Jackie, whose swim had set off early in the morning, was still swimming. I woke up around midnight and checked online (these things get a bit compulsive) and she was still swimming. I have to confess that as I went back to sleep, I assumed that by the time I woke up, she would either have got out, or have got across. But no...when I woke up, she was still swimming.

As we prepared for our swim on Sunday morning, we were all completely awestruck by how long she'd been in the water - around 25 hours at that point. I felt faintly ashamed that I was only going in for 4 hours....and that I had a bit of a whinge when I got in because the water felt a bit chilly. The water was almost eerily flat when we started, but by hours three and four, it had picked up to quite a chop, especially at the harbour end. At the other end, we had to play dodge the kayak as scores of children with very poor attention spans and limited directional control ploughed about.

At our three hour feed, Barrie announced that Jackie had just completed her swim successfully - in 28 hour and 44 minutes. 28 HOURS!!!

The six hour swimmers were told on their 5 hour feed that they could get out 15 minutes early (no complaints about that) so that we could all go down to the marina to welcome Jackie back. We weren't at the marina long before the boat chugged into sight and everyone cheered and clapped as it pulled up alongside the pontoon. As Jackie was helped out of the boat, I have to confess that I was a little bit shocked by her condition - she was extremely pale, and her face and especially her lips were swollen from the salt water. She was very unsteady on her feet (who wouldn't be after that), but, clutching the huge bunch of balloons that the beach crew had given her (each with "happy birthday" on them - there's a limit to what you can get on a Sunday afternoon!), she made her way up the steps into the carpark, surrounded by well-wishers. It was an amazing sight, and I still can't really get my head around what she did. I don't know where will like that comes from. It's just phenomenal.

I was also pleased to meet Joe Bakel on Sunday, who also did a successful crossing this week, and Luke (from Swimtrek) was down on the beach on Sunday morning for a dip, looking in fine form. Well done to everyone who got across this week (and commiserations to those who didn't). And well done to all of those who did back-to-back 8 / 6 hour swims this weekend - great training.

As for me, I'm finding the swims completely compulsive, and am following them online to the point of obsession, but it's starting to give me the heeby-jeebies. I think that I'm going to have to hold off a bit for the next tide so that I can try and keep my focus and stay as positive as I can be.

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