Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Just keep swimming...

It's been an interesting week's swimming....

I woke up last Sunday to find that I couldn't move my left arm and shoulder, and I had to get up and go teach lots of 4-year-olds how to swim! The morning was hell, I spent the whole time trying to keep my shoulder as still as possible, which is not an easy task when you've got six kids hanging out of you! The warm water did help a little tho, and I stretched it out a little in the pool when the classes were over. When I got home I rubbed plenty of tiger balm into it and rested it for the rest of the day. That really helped to loosen it out and reduce the pain and by the time I was heading to bed that night I was feeling much better. I had arranged for a swim Monday morning with Finbarr (who's swimming the Channel in July) so I was hoping that I'd wake up pain-free!

When I woke up Monday it was sore again but nowhere near as bad as the morning before. I put on more tiger balm and got ready to head down for the swim anyway-I figured that I'd see how it was after a few strokes and decide then if I was going to head around the island or not. Finbarr was out for a short break when I got down there so I got ready and we headed in. I wasn't sure if it was the cold numbing it or just that it needed to be stretched out-but my shoulder felt ok when I started swimming so I decided to head around-Finbarr was on his last lap of the day anyway (at the end of a 6-hour swim!) so he was at a nice slow pace for me. I managed the lap with no problems, I was actually much more comfortable than I thought I'd be. I got out happy that I hadn't made a bad decision by carrying on swimming after I felt pain on Saturday.

On Tuesday I was back to the pool for my Sunday's Well Masters swimming session, it had been a while since I was there so it was nice to see everyone again. Swimming in the pool was doing my head in tho after being in the sea so much recently...I don't know how I'm going to make myself get back into the pool routine next week when I'm in Madrid! It was a good session though, we did some timed frontcrawl sets which I always enjoy.

Then on Wednesday it was back to the sea with Finbarr...it was a lovely calm morning which was a big change from the few previous swims! I found it quite cold though, colder than it was for a few weeks. My watch was showing 56 degrees F which is about 13.5 degrees C so I guess leaving about a degree for body temperature the water was probably at about 12.5, at the lower end of Saturday's range. I think too the fact that it was early in the morning my body just didn't want to be in cold water so that probably played a big part! I was the first time in a long time though that I had an "ice-cream headache" when I dived in first. We did a double lap and the cold wasn't so bad after a while...I definitely appreciated the tea that Mike Harris had waiting when I got out though! Finbarr didn't seem to feel the cold at all...he had done another full lap by the time I was leaving and was starting to go around for another as different people came to join him.

On Thursday it was back to SW again, there were only two of us in the lane so that's always nice, I like not having to speed up and slow down the way you have to when there's a big group. We did some timed 200s which were fine and then later on some sprints, which are always tough! I really was never built for sprinting! It was a fun workout though.

I talked to Finbarr Thursday night and he said that he was planning to head to Oysterhaven the following morning (a little closer than Sandycove) for a 2-hour swim and if I wanted to come along there would be a boat with us so I could get out before then if I needed to. So I decided to go...thankfully I have a nice new sat nav which could tell me where to go, otherwise I'd probably still be trying to find the place now...I don't know my way around most of West Cork that well!! So we met there at 10am on Friday morning, it was a cloudy morning, not too cold, but with lots of fog, especially as I got closer to the coast. We were supposed to be swimming from the red circle marked on the picture below out to the big "island" (it's really just an extra-big rock!), which is known as Big Sovereign (Little Sovereign is the smaller one off to the right), which is about 2.5km out according to my measurements on Google Maps. However, we couldn't see past the corner in the headland due to the fog! Thankfully we had a boat with us so we (hopefully) couldn't get too lost. We decided that if we got out to the mouth and we still couldn't see the island, we'd take a left and head the shorter distance towards the smaller island instead.

"The Sovereigns"

We got in and started heading in the right direction, and thankfully we found that when we got out a bit we could see the island. I let Finbarr do the navigating and I just followed him...if it was me navigating we could have ended up back at Sandycove!!! I got a rather unpleasant surprise as we headed out further from the land...there were jellyfish swimming under us! There weren't many of them and they were small and they were down a decent amount I think...I didn't exactly stop to check! But they freaked me out anyway...every time I saw one I sped up dramatically...normally I just use my legs for balance when I'm swimming but when a jellyfish passed under me I'd kick like my life depended on it! Maybe it's a good training technique to make me swim faster lol! I guess my big fear is not knowing what a sting feels like...maybe once I've been stung once I won't be so freaked out by them after that!

We got out close to the island and the guy driving the boat (whose name I never found out...oops!) took some photos...there were a couple of seals in the water closer to the island and he wanted to try to get them in the photos with us. Unfortunately I couldn't see the seals apart from a couple of times when I got the right vantage point over the waves...he had an advantage being up on the boat! I do need to get my hands on those photos tho, I think there might be some cool ones in there.

We turned around and headed back in to land with Finbarr making sure that we didn't miss the opening to get back in! The whole swim (about 5km) took about 1 hour and 45 minutes, with the water temperature about 57 degrees F (14 C) so probably 13 degrees C in reality...to me it felt much warmer than Wednesday in Sandycove...I guess a lot really does depend on what you're body temperature is like and how you're feeling at the time. It was a great swim, it was interesting to swim right out from the land rather than staying close like in Sandycove...it's a bit scarier this way but more fun too I think. I just need to get rid of those jellyfish!

Saturday and Sunday were gorgeous days here, I headed down for the organised swims both afternoons, making sure to put on plenty of suncream! On Saturday I did a single lap, the water temperature was lovely, nice enough to laze around in and do a little breaststroke or relaxed frontcrawl without getting cold. My watch read at 60 F (15.5 C) so it was probably around 14.5 C, the warmest we've seen so far this year. On Sunday myself and Sylvain headed down and managed to get a puncture just entering Kinsale...thankfully he was there because I'd never have managed to get the nuts open myself! I do know how to change a puncture, but every time I've had one I never have the strength to open them. Thankfully Sylvain managed ok tho while I busied myself swapping out the spare from under the car! When we got there we headed around for a double...again nice water temperature, much more fluctuation than Saturday-the cold spots were colder but the warm spots were warmer...I saw variations from 58-62 F (14.5-16.5) on my watch at different stages going around...so it wasn't just my imagination!

Yesterday I didn't get a chance to get near the sea...with it being a bank holiday I knew that it would take a long time to get through Kinsale and even longer to get home since everyone would be traveling back from West Cork in the evening. So since I had a ton of research work to do I figured I couldn't really spend so much time driving there and back...although I really wanted to be down there, the weather was gorgeous!

Instead I headed down this evening, it's been another lovely day today so I headed straight down from work, the swim was at 6pm. It was a great evening for a swim, with the sun shining down and not a cloud to be seen. The water was back at 57 F so about 13 C after adjusting and it was lovely and clear-I'm not sure why it's so unbelievably clear some days and not at all on others. I used to think that it just depended on how calm or rough it was, but it was rougher today than it has been all weekend but much clearer. The wind was in a strange direction too, it was pushing the water back against us as we were heading back towards the slip, it was kinda fun fighting with it tho! I was starving after missing my dinner so I only did the one lap and headed home for a nice big feed!!

There's another swim tomorrow evening and again Thursday...I've got an appointment to give platelets in the morning tho and sometimes I don't feel great for the rest of the day after that so I'll have to see how it goes as to whether I'll head down or not. And then on Friday I travel to Dublin to fly out to Spain on Saturday for a month...I'm doing research at the university in Madrid for a while. It will be nice to be in Spain but it means no open water swimming the whole time there :(

But at least I've got the whole summer ahead of me when I get back...and the water should be even warmer by then :)