Monday, 19 July 2010

Gentle weekend in Dover... with jellyfish

I had a good, long rest after the J2F swim, not least because my right wrist was still feeling pretty sore - a touch of tendinitis, probably caused by my bad habit of entering thumb first with my right hand when I start getting tired. I've been icing it, and wrapping it up for a bit after swimming, and that seems to be doing the trick. It's nothing serious....I'm just getting increasingly paranoid about injury as the big day gets closer.

Anyway, I was gloriously idle last week, doing just one short pool swim, plus an hour at Bosworth last Thursday evening. It was nice to have a break, and I needed the recovery time, but by Friday (10 days, post J2F), I was feeling ready to start building back up again and regaining my focus. So, off to Dover I went, complete with a rejuvenated Bob, who had spent the week in the garage - it turns out that a persistent rattle and bubbling roar on acceleration aren't the sounds of a healthy van, but thankfully, it's nothing that a Visa card and a helpful mechanic couldn't fix.

Saturday was overcast and windy, andd it started to absolutely throw it down just as we were picking our way down the stones to the water. The tide was low and the water was very brown and uninviting; the rain and the dark clouds made the scene even more colourless...plus tinted goggles didn't make it seem any cheerier. I felt terrible for the beach crew - poor Irene got an unexpected soaking and had to go and buy new clothes. But happily, the weather cleared after an hour, and although it was pretty choppy, especially at the ferry wall, the sun started to poke through and lift our collective moods. The water was so low that you could stand up just about anywhere within the swimming area between the end of the groynes and the white marks on the harbour walls; I tried not to touch the sea floor though, as I'm a bit squeamish about what's down there.

But I did have my first major run-in with jellyfish. I've been stung before, but only little zaps in passing, and just into the second hour, I got a couple of small hits on my legs. But then I swam straight into one, drawing its tentacles right across my cheeks, mouth and chin, and then my arm and thigh (as I turned away to try and get away from it). I could feel the tentacles trailing across my face and felt completely freaked out by it. I was surprised by how upset I was - firstly because it hurt, especially on my lips, but secondly, because I got really freaked out by them being there but me not being able to see them. I started imagining them everywhere, and seriously contemplated getting out to escape what I was now imagining to be a sea thick with jellyfish. Drama queen? Me? Thankfully, the shame of getting out and having to tell the beach crew that I was too squeamish about jellyfish to stay in was too great, and I finished my planned two hour swim before gratefully exiting the water.

In spite of my jellyfish encounter, and the fact that my top lip was numb for several hours afterwards, I was pleased with my swim - just a short one, but a good start to the build-up, and a chance to stretch out my well-rested muscles. My wrist was a bit sore, but nothing to worry about. I hung about to help with the feeds and to catch up with fellow Swimtrekkers John, Sam and Julian - congrats to Julian who did his 6 hour qualification swim. We also bumped into Liam and Eddie (from the Cork camp), who were over for Liam's crossing (he's out there as I type - Go Liam!).

By Sunday, it was still windy, but it was a lovely bright day, and I told Freda that I would do 3 hours. I felt a bit guilty because the others were doing 6 hours, but I need to stick to my plan of a gentle build-up - I'm working on the basis that, once I've recovered fully from J2F, I'm ready to go, so just need to stay well and hold steady, rather than hammering out more really long swims. This was a lovely swim for me - it was a sunny day, and the harbour was a nice mix of choppy and calm (to stave of boredom). And three hours is a really nice length of swim - long enough to really settle down and enjoy the rhythm of swimming, but not so far that everything starts to hurt. I felt great.

So many people are down in Dover now ready to swim - including Andy Williams, who is hoping to go on Tuesday or Wednesday. It's so exciting following the swims and thinking that that might be me very soon. Just four weeks to go now!

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