Friday, August 8, 2008

More Congratulations

And I almost forgot....congratulations to the second Channel Swimmer of the summer from Cork....Eddie Irwin completed his swim on July 31st in 13hrs 47 mins. His swim was originally supposed to be in September but he was offered the slot at the end of July and went for it...good he has two months less of training! Well done Eddie!

A Proper Update...

The one time I'm half way through a big long post and Firefox goes and crashes and loses it and Blogger hasn't autosaved it....ick! Golden often! So here goes again...

I've been swimming lots since I came back from Madrid. Mostly all in Sandycove, in differing got nice for a while but has been feeling cold again the past week or so, my watch is telling me that it's back down at about 14degrees C now...I'm sure that I'll be wishing for that temperature when winter sets in, but for now I'd prefer it to go back to 16 or so!

I've had a few swimming firsts in the past few weeks. One of these was my first time swimming in the Lee Swim, which I have already posted about. Another first was a jellyfish sting...I knew it was gonna happen sometime, I've been dreading it for so long! A couple of weeks ago I was coming to the end of a lap with Tadhg and we stopped to chat for a minute about something and while we were chatting I got stung on the arm...that set me swimming again pretty fast...anything to get out of there!! It wasn't so bad much so that by the time I'd gotten to the slip the pain was more or less gone. I've had one pretty bad sting since, it was on the inside of my forearm and it left me with long red marks, I assume from the tentacles. I was swimming for an hour after and by the time I got out it was still sore. In fact, about 5 minutes before the end of that swim I got stung again on my ear and between my knees (by the same jellyfish!) and by the time I'd gotten to the slip those stings were gone but the earlier one still hurt like hell. I guess it depends on the type of jellyfish or maybe the length of contact time. I've also gotten stung across my face, which wasn't as bad as I thought it would be either. It would be a hell of a lot worse without goggles I'd imagine!! So now I'm trying to convince myself that stings really aren't so bad and I need to get over my jellyfish fear...maybe I'll have gotten over it by next summer!!

We've had a couple more swimming events in the past few weeks. Two weeks ago we had a swim out in Gougane Barra, it was by far the most scenic 2km I've ever's really gorgeous there. I'd actually never been there before...another first for me...even though it's so close-shame on me! It's where the River Lee begins and where Saint Finbarr is said to have founded a monastery back in the 6th century. I can see why he would have wanted to live there's so pretty! Here are a couple of photos that I've found online to show just how nice a place it is (I forgot my own camera that day!)....

After the swim we went back to Tadhg's relative's house for yummy dinner and a few hours of chatting before facing the road was a nice end to a really fun day...thanks to Tadhg for the organisation and hospitality :)

Last weekend was the weekend of the Kinsale regatta, and the regatta committee organises a race-a lap of Sandycove. Since I was heading down for a swim anyway I figured I might as well take part! It was handicapped (slowest swimmers start first to give everyone a chance) and I was in the middle group to go, which is probably right...I'm faster than some swimmers down there but I'm slower than a lot of others too!! I swam it in 31:06 altogether and was the 10th person finished overall and the 3rd woman. Which meant that I got another medal :) I'm starting to like these medals...I know that the only reason that I'm winning any is because there are so few woman open water swimmers out there in comparison to the men...but the medals are still pretty!!

So now my next event is coming up this weekend-I'm swimming from Galway to Inishbofin...8 miles long...out in the Atlantic the west coast of Ireland. It's gonna be tough. But I can't wait! I've been training for it the past while...I did a 3 hour swim a few weeks back (the one where I got the horrible sting!) and that went well...thanks to Tadhg and Paul for swimming with me on that was a dull and dreary evening and it was quite rough out there so I really appreciated the company :) I wasn't too cold or too sore after, which was good. Then this weekend just gone Niall, one of the other people doing the Bofin swim, was saying that he'd like to do a long swim on Sunday. So I said that I'd head down and swim with him-he was planning to do 6 laps in about 4 hours...I wasn't sure that I was going to do that much but I figured I'd swim as long as I felt comfortable and not push it too much with the swim itself coming up so soon. It was quite cold that afternoon...made a little more comfortable by the fact that the sun was shining but still enough to cause brain freeze for the first few minutes! We stopped after two laps to have some drinks (Niall had brought a "picnic" box over to the island...there's a little cove that people use to store a box with energy drinks and whatever else rather than having to head back in to the slip...very useful!)...and again after the 4th lap. At that stage I was still feeling good...cold but not enough to want to stop. And the hot drink really helped with that too! So we did the 5th lap and then made the decision to go for the final 6th lap...I'm not sure if it was a sensible decision on my part or not since I actually spent some of the lap shivering as I was swimming, but it felt good afterwards to have done it. It took us 3hrs 57mins to do the 6 laps (about 9km) so Niall's estimate was spot on! I recovered really quickly once I got warm clothes on and had a warm drink...I had stopped shivering before I even left Sandycove. So that was good! I'm pretty convinced that I'm ready for Bofin now...I'm sure that I'll question myself once I actually start swimming away from land towards something that I can't see tho! But it will be a good challenge, a good experience. And hopefully good fun too! Now let's start crossing our fingers that the weather allows it to go ahead :)

And my last update (I think) is that I'm heading to Dover on Sunday to crew for Joni Storer on his channel attempt next week. So I'm spending a week in Dover, and I'll get to put faces to some of the names that I've been hearing for so long! Mark has the same tide window so it will be great to see himself and Kelly again. And on top of all of that I'll hopefully get to do lots of swimming! I'm going to be Joni's support swimmer, so I'll not only be seeing the whole process as a crew member, I'll also be in the water with him if he needs me to give a bit of a push at any stage...the whole think will be a really good experience for me I think.

I'm leaving tomorrow morning for Galway so it's probably time to be getting to bed now...I've an exciting week ahead :) I'll update when I'm back from Dover and life is back to normal...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

You Did What?!

So I've been back in Cork for a while now and I'm back to Sandycove training most days and loving it! And a couple of weeks ago I had my first Lee Swim. For those of you who don't know...the River Lee is the river that Cork is built on. The Lee Swim is a 2,000 metre swim through the city that was first held in 1914. Bad water quality (due to the raw sewage that was being pumped directly into the river!) stopped the swim for a nu
mber of years, but the swim was resurrected in 2005 after a huge cleanup of the river. Most people in the city are not fully convinced that the river really is clean and give you very funny looks when you talk about swimming in it, but the swim is now in its 4th year and noone has grown any extra limbs after swimming in it so far-or lost any for that matter-so it can't be that bad!!

The swim course

This year was the first year since the swim restarted that I've been in Cork for naturally I signed up. The day began with registration where we got our bag of freebies...including a bottle of coke which I figured would kill anything bad that I swallowed on the swim anyway! Then after a safety briefing at the finish, we all walked to the start. On the way we had some interesting entertainment...

There was a big seal in the river (in all my years living in Cork I've never seen a seal in the river-it figures that the one day I do is the day that I'm swimming in there!!). The seal had just caught a salmon that looked like it was a foot and a half or so long. And, as we watched, it tore the salmon to shreds. In minutes. I was just hoping that if he was still hungry he'd go for the fast people in the first group of swimmers and not me back in the sixth group lol!

When we got to the start we got ourselves ready to go and had another short safety briefing and then it was time for the fast people to head off. We were in groups depending on the time we had put in for ourselves-I had no idea how long it would take me...normally 1,600 metres is about 30 minutes for me in a pool so for 2,000 metres in open water I figured 45 minutes would be a comfortable time. So I was in the 6th group of people to start (with 30 people per group).

We watched the fastest people head off down the river with the seal swimming around the front few people! The organisers were great and we weren't waiting long before we were called to get to the start. I expected when we dived in that the water would smell horrible...we've thought of the river as dirty for so long that it's hard to believe that it's not! But it really didn't smell bad at was very murky-you could only see an inch or so in front of your face-but that was probably a good thing, I didn't really want to be able to see to the bottom anyway! It was nice and warm too, about 16degrees C I think, so it didn't feel cold at all :)

I wasted no time getting in to the water...I'm causing the splash that's circled in red!

It was really nice swimming through the city-on every bridge there were lots of people watching. It's great to have lots of support when doing an event like that-although I'm sure that lots of those people were just curious as to what was going on! It was a gorgeous day for it too, as you can see from the pictures...

Enjoying my swim!

It still looks strange
to see so many people
in the river-especially
when I'm one of them!

We had been warned to save some energy for when we had to turn around and swim 300metres upriver at the end. I swam down to the turning point at the Port of Cork comfortably, and expected a bit more of a push when I turned but I must say that I didn't really feel it at all. I guess because the tide was coming in it would have countered some of the flow from the river.

I finished with people from the 4th and 5th groups to start, so I had obviously overestimated how long it would take me-it took just over 34mins, much less than the 45 that I had estimated! I found out later that I came 2nd in my age group-out of only 8 tho!

All done!

It was a really fun day and night after....a big thank-you to all of the organisers who did a really great job! I'm looking forward to next year already :)