Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year :)

2008 was a very busy swimming year for me. Over the year I swam 75o,000 metres, and did 108 laps of Sandycove Island. I did my first sea swim back in March, my first Lee swim, my first 12km swim around Inishbofin harbour and my first 10km session in the pool. And I paid my deposit for my pilot boat for my swim-a whopping £1000 Sterling which will be worth every penny when I complete my swim!

It's strange to think that this time last year I didn't know any of the Sandycove gang-an absolutely fantastic group of people that I'm so lucky to have gotten to know. I've also been so lucky to have Eilís take me on to train me for my swim, I really appreciate all the help that she has given me these past few months.

It's been a great year for my Channel swim training, and I've really enjoyed it. So now it's time to look forward to 2009-from now on I'll be talking about my Channel swim 'this' year instead of 'next' year...a scary thought but very exciting too! I can't wait for all that's ahead of me this coming year...roll on 2009!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas swims...

I've had a fun few days on the swimming front...

After Mike's party on Sunday, I had my last session with Eilís on Monday before she started her Christmas holidays, so that was a nice long 10k last long session for a few weeks :) For the next few weeks I've got a program of sessions to do so I'll still be swimming but my distances will be much smaller and I've got a couple of weeks off circuits too...yay!

So on Tuesday I had a nice short swim and since then I've been in the sea. On Christmas Eve we were in Sandycove, the weather had gotten a little colder since the weekend but it was still very mild so we got in hoping to do a double. I hadn't done a double in over a month, and the water temperature was about a degree warmer then, so I wanted to see if I could stay in that long, but at the same time I didn't want to end up hypothermic at the back of the island. So when we got to the second corner and I was feeling fine I decided to go around to the first corner again and see then how I was feeling-if I was feeling cold at that stage I'd head back to the slip. When we got around to the front of the island Ossi headed in towards the slip to see if Mike Harris, who had arrived while we were doing our first lap, was coming around, but it turned out that he wasn't. So while he was doing that I managed to catch up with Imelda, who was waiting for him, and I decided that I'd go again and head off ahead of them since they were wearing fins and were much faster than me. They waited for Sevy, who was also doing a double, at the first corner, so the three of us got to the second corner at around the same time, good timing! At that stage I was starting to feel the cold-mainly across my back and shoulders so it was probably more from the air than the water. My hands and feet were numb but not sore and I was still getting power from my stroke so hopefully they've started getting used to the cold! We finished in just over an hour, a good Christmas Eve swim!

On Christmas Day I went down to Robert's Cove for the Christmas Day Swim taking place there. It's really well organised-there's a nice big bonfire to keep warm beside and lots of soup and hot whiskey in case the bonfire isn't enough! There were lots of people there, way more than I expected. We were all told to get ourselves ready and gather by the bonfire until everyone was ready...

Waiting to go in

And then off we went....

The mad dash...

...which soon slowed down as
   people hit the cold water!

The tide was way out, so by the time I was in any decent depth of water, my feet were absolutely FREEZING!!!! Eventually I managed to get out to deep enough water to dive in, swim about 4 strokes and then get out again!! For me this was much harder than getting into Sandycove because I'm used to just diving in and dealing with the cold all at once rather than delaying the pain! 

It wasn't a day to be hanging around-especially since we couldn't feel our feet at this stage! So we trekked back through the shallow water again, the bonfire a very welcome sight at this stage!

Fallon greeting Tom, myself and a wetsuit-less Ossi!

Getting dressed was nice and easy without numb hands, and I had nice cosy boots to warm up my numb feet, so I wasn't really cold at all after the swim-it didn't stop me having a nice hot whiskey though...thanks Imelda! :) There are a few more photos from the day here.

Stephen's Day was another sea swim day...back to Sandycove again. We had a nice big group of peope turn out for the swim, it wasn't such a nice day for it though-there was an easterly wind, which not only made it really cold, it also made the water really rough. So it was a case of heading to the corner and deciding then where to go from there. I headed out with Ossi and Kieran, and as we were on our way out a big group of people who had headed out ahead of us were making their way back down the front of the island, having obviously decided that they weren't going around. We decided to head around anyway, making sure to stay together all the way along the back (in other words the other two swam slowly so that I could keep up with them-thanks guys!). I normally enjoy swimming in rough water-it's good for a change and it makes you forget about the cold. But it just wasn't a pleasant day for it-I found that by the time we got to the second corner I was absolutely exhausted from fighting with the water! It was definitely a one-lap day, so back to the slip we headed and it was only then that I realised just how cold I was, getting dressed was a struggle!!

So when I heard the forecast for today (stronger easterly winds) I decided that it was time to go back to the pool...the tides are at bad times anyway for the next few days so it makes swimming at Sandycove difficult. So it's back to short, sprinty pool favourite....NOT!!! And it's Christmas holidays so the pool will be full of kids and their parents taking up the lanes :( Oh well, I guess I'd better get used to it...the New Year is coming so the place will be packed now for the next month with everyone and their resolutions to get fit...kill me now!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Knee-replacement party...

We finally had a mild weekend this weekend, it was about 11 or 12 degrees C both days, much better swimming weather than on previous weekends! And I was very glad of it-after a weekend off I was not looking forward to getting back in, so the warmer weather made things much easier!

Sunday was a fun swim-it was Mike Harris' first lap since he had his second knee replacement in November, so the plan was to get around the island and then back to his apartment in Kinsale for mulled wine and mince pies-great incentive to get around as fast as possible! There was a good gang of people down for the swim-both swimmers and onlookers wrapped up in nice warm clothes!

Mike hadn't been in for longer than 10 minutes since his operation so he decided that he'd head to the first corner and see then how he was doing with the cold. He refused to wear a wetsuit but conceeded to wearing the bottom half of an old one to cover up his knee so that it wouldn't seize up! So after the obligatory group photo (which I will post when I get a copy of it!), out to the first corner we headed. And of course when we got there he had no intention of turning back-his only comment was to "push on" that we did! It was quite rough so a few of us stayed with Mike to make sure that everything was ok. And it was better than ok, he made it around with no problems at all, and then proceeded to get out and make tea for everyone while still wearing the half wetsuit!

So after we had tea and were warmed up a little we headed back to the apartment in Kinsale, where Mike's wife, Ann, was making way too much yummy food!! Once everyone was fed, John Conroy started passing out the lyrics of a Christmas carol that he had composed last year after Mike's first knee replacement:

Harris the red togged swimmer
Has a pair of bright speedos
And if you ever saw them
You would even say they glow

All of the other swimmers
Used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Harris
Join in any swimmer's games

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Imelda came to say
Harris with your togs so bright
Won't you guide the swim tonight?

Then all the swimmers loved him
Since he got his brand new knee
Harris the red togged swimmer
You'll go down in history!

And then there was the presentation...

Mike's new red togs!

Mike had lost a pair of red togs during the summer so Finbarr found a 'lovely' replacement pair!

So know that Mike has had his two knees replaced, we're trying to figure out what joint is going to be replaced next so that we can have another party next year!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Website and Charity info...

Last weekend I had a weekend off-it was my birthday on Monday so Eilís gave me an early birthday pressie! So besides going out for a great night on Friday, I spent a lot of the weekend working on finishing up my website. So it's finally done! Check it out at (for those of you who don't get it-I'm from Blackrock, hence I'm a Rockie!).

I've sorted out all of my charity details now too. I decided that I would support three charities-one online, and two offline. I had two reasons for picking my online charity. I have worked part-time with children for over 10 years now through swimming teaching and they have provided me with so many smiles and laughs over the years, so I wanted to support a children's charity. I also talked to Eilís since training Channel swimmers is one of her ways of raising money for charity. We picked the Jack and Jill Children's Foundation as my online charity. The Jack and Jill Foundation provide home respite for children up to four years of age who suffer from severe developmental delay and associated problems, requiring extensive medical and nursing care at home. Usually these children cannot function at birth and require 24 hour care. Jack and Jill provide funding to allow the family to hire a carer or nurse in order for them to get a break from this 24 hour caring role of looking after their Special Needs child. My donation page is available here.

For the offline charities I wanted to pick charities that provide care and support to people with cancer. Most people today have been touched in some way by cancer and I am no exception-a number of my uncles have died of this horrible disease. I wanted to give something back to those people who care for and help people when they are going through a very difficult time. I picked two local cancer charities to support.

I have always wanted to support Marymount Hospice, which is a hospice in Cork City that provides help and support to terminally ill patients and their families when the illness is at an advanced stage. I have known a number of relatives and friends who have received their hospice care and they are truly a deserving charity. The staff are absolutely wonderful and do their utmost to provide support and care for people during a very difficult time.

Cork ARC Cancer Support House is a voluntary organization established to provide a centre in which people with cancer and their families can find emotional support and practical help. A diagnosis of cancer has an enormous psychological impact, the effect of which can be prolonged. Cork ARC provides the necessary support when the patient leaves the hospital setting, and helps them to adjust to their life after diagnosis. Along with the support provided to cancer patients, Cork ARC provide support for family members and friends of those affected by cancer and for members of the caring professions who work with people with cancer.

Details of how to donate to my offline charities are given here. Please give as generously as you can, I really want to do as much as I can to help. It makes my training that bit more worthwhile to know that it's doing some good for charity!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Back to the pool :)

Another cold weekend at Sandycove-I absolutely froze on Saturday!! But I think that had more to do with me than it did with the actual temperature since the air was a little warmer than the weekend before and the water was about the same. Put it this way-heading to London for 24 hours on your day off and then going straight back into training is not the smartest of ideas! My birthday is coming up and myself and Sarah had booked a few days in London, but circumstances changed and it ended up only being one day really-we travelled out on Wednesday (after she did an exam and I did a swim session), went to a spa Thursday morning, shopping Thursday afternoon and back to the airport to travel home Thursday evening. Basically we spent about a third of the time traveling! And then Friday was busy with swimming, circuits, more swimming, a sports massage and work. So by the time the weekend came around I was wrecked! So I guess it wasn't surprising that the sea felt really cold on Saturday-I spent the whole lap wanting to get out! But at least I got a lap in I guess-I did about 40mins altogether.
Then on Sunday I really didn't want to go down there, but I figured that I'd only dread next weekend all the more if I didn't! And I'm really glad that I did...I spent 5 minutes longer in the water (which really is a long time in 9 degree water!!) and still felt a million times better than Saturday. So all is good again :)
Still, even with the good swim on Sunday, I was very happy to be getting back into the pool again yesterday...warm water is much appreciated at the moment! I didn't even mind the thoughts of circuits-I might come out of the class in pain and wrecked tired but at least my hands aren't swollen up and awkward!
So all is good on the training front. And for those of you wondering about the website that I's on the way, I promise! I need to sort out a couple of small things in the next few days and then it should be up and's just that between training and work at the moment it's so hard to find time to go and do things-I don't want to imagine what it will be like after Christmas when Eilís really steps up the training! But it's all good...the more I do now the easier it will be on the day of the swim-that's what I keep telling myself anyway!