With 50km clocked and all of my marking finally finished, I headed back to Coventry ready for the training week's finale - a 6 hour swim test at Swan Pool in Walsall, courtesy of the Sandwell Channel Swimming and Lifesaving Society and the Birmingham Lifeguards, organised by Dan Earthquake. I've done at least one of these events most years, and the weather has been reliably vile for most of them, so given the chilly week I'd already had, I have to say I wasn't really looking forward to it - especially since the water has been holding at 12 degrees for several weeks and I didn't think I had 6 hours in me at that temp. But just when you think you've been pushed about as far as you can be pushed, open water swimming steps up and offers you a treat. And so it was - a day of glorious, uninterrupted sunshine. Bliss. And so I swam in endless circles, with purpose, the sun on my back and in calm, windless water.
My Hydrotracker ran out of beans about 30 mins before I finished, but I ended up covering about 20km and beating my previous record for a Swan Pool 6 by 2 laps. A good result.
I've done these events pretty much every year since I got into marathon swimming, and they're low key, but with great safety cover and boundless encouragement, whatever the individual's goal. We had a great support crew on shore who basked in the sunshine, counted laps, offered support and helped with feeds - thanks so much everyone.
Even the geese have finally plucked up the courage to reproduce, in spite of the cold:
We all fed off the pontoon - I settled in to my usual routine of carb drink (SiS Go...what used to be PSP22, flavoured with blackcurrant squash) with the occasional banana or jelly baby.
I don't know what was going on here, but I look pretty desperate for that carb drink....
And as the day passed slowly by, I carried on swimming in circles, going nowhere, with purpose....
So, a 70km week of OW swimming, topped off with a real treat of a sunny day and a good, confidence-building 6 hours.
Well done also to Anji Page, Carl Salt, Ben Brophy, Carmen Scales and Chloe Johnson, who all completed their 6 hour swims, and to Neil Kapoor, Steve Husband, Jackson Carroll and Rob Cash, all of whom completed 2 hour swims.
But pleased though I was with my week of swimming, special mention has to go to Dan, who entered the water at the crack of dawn and completed a 10 hour swim that day. Amazing, especially when you consider that he also did a 6 hour swim in the sea (at 9 degrees!) the previous week. Dan has an early Channel swim booked and the prize is surely his for the taking.
Many thanks to the lifeguards and supporters who took care of us, to Dan for organising the day, and to Lee Warr for the lovely photos. You can find more of the pics, plus Dan's record of the day, on the Cold Water Culture website.