Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day 2: A Surprise

The plan for our second proper swimming day was to do the Gozo-Malta crossing (about 5km)-we were told that we would be swimming for 2.5 hours so once we reached Malta we would keep going along the coast until the time was up. We got up early and got a bus to the harbour, where we got on ‘Hey Lampuki’, our boat for the trip. The wind was not being as cooperative as we would have liked, and it was quite choppy as we headed over to our starting point. The one advantage of this was that apparently jellyfish don’t like rough water so they tend to stay deep when it’s rough-I’ll take waves any day over jellies!! 

We started out in our three separate groups so that we wouldn’t be too far apart. We set off in the middle, with Lizzie in a rib looking after us. We headed towards Comino, the small island between Malta and Gozo. I was swimming with Mark and Trevor, we stayed together pretty well except when myself and Mark kept heading off in the wrong direction and were told to go follow Trevor…my sense of direction is so bad, I’m glad that I’ll have a boat to follow on the big day of I could easily end up in Spain or Belgium!! Even though it was rough, the water was really clear and under us we could see all types of sea life-things that glowed, things that were all different shapes-they were really cool to look at but I was happy that they were well below us, I didn’t really want to become closely acquainted with any of them!

As we came close to the Comino shore the sea calmed down…and lo and behold, the jellies came out in force. I think I may have mentioned (once or twice!) that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of jellyfish. Far from it. They freak me out big time. So when we came across a whole load of them I was NOT a happy camper. My first reaction was to stop and see what the others were going to do. Which apparently is the worst reaction you can have for two reasons. First of all, when you tread water, the currents you create drag the jellies towards you. Not what I was going for! And second of all…the most obvious thing…when you lift your head up, you can’t see them any more. So then you’re getting stung without even being able to see what’s stinging you! Regardless anyway I didn’t stop for very long-the two lads were swimming along quickly to get out of the shoal, oblivious to my panic. So I figured that I just had to put the head down, swim as fast as I could through them and hope that they would get out of my way. 

When we got away from them, we stopped to see who was stung where. Amazingly I managed to escape, Mark got a couple of horrible stings across his forehead and Trevor got a few too. Not sure why they didn’t touch me but I certainly wasn’t complaining!

From there we swam along the Comino coast and through the Blue Lagoon-a really beautiful area-in the summer they actually put lanes in there for people to swim. It’s just like a really big, really pretty outdoor swimming pool-you can see to the ground and it’s covered in sand, so the water looks a really pretty turquoise colour. The kind of place that makes all those jellies worthwhile!

From there we headed further along the coast and Lizzie brought us through a really cool tunnel-she does the shorter distance Gozo Swimtrek trips (the ones that people go on to have fun!) so she knows where all the cool places are!! It was nice to be exploring a bit after our circles the day before. However, it wasn’t to last :( Lizzie called us together and told us that we were to head back to the Blue Lagoon-the groups were getting too split up so they wanted us to do laps there for the rest of the time. We weren’t too happy by this prospect but there was nothing we could do. At least by the time we got there we only had about 45mins left so it went by quite quickly. 

We were all happy with our morning swim and were anxious to find out what the plan for the afternoon was-they kept it securely under wraps until we had lunch and were starting to warm up and get comfy. Then they dropped the bomb. A 3-hour swim in the afternoon. And we were getting into the water in half an hour. I don’t think that anyone really welcomed that news. I had been hoping for a nice stretched-out hour to recover from the morning and to relax before the 6-hour the following day. However, the other thing they told us was that conditions looked better for Wednesday than for Tuesday so we were going to put the 6-hour off for a day.

Nothing for it except to go get ready to swim. I was still a little cold by the time that we were setting off-it actually meant that the water felt a little warmer though so maybe it wasn’t a bad thing. We set off around Cominoto, the small island next to the Blue Lagoon, then the route took us back through the Blue Lagoon and further along in the direction that we had been going that morning before we turned back. We swam for maybe an hour and a quarter before turning back to swim along the cliffs back to the Blue Lagoon. We knew that once we were back there we were going to be going in circles again so myself and Mark took the longest possible route back-hugging the cliffs the whole way rather than taking direct lines from point to point! We really didn’t want to have to do circles for any longer than we had to. We still ended up swimming around the Blue Lagoon for over an hour-at this stage the prettiness had just about lost its appeal, we were BORED! And just then the sun came out :) It was such a welcome sight, we had sun for about 40mins and it really helped with taking my mind off the swim. I really do hope that I get some sun on the day of my Channel swim-it’s not only about feeling warmer, it just makes me feel much more positive.

We finished the swim and headed back for some well-deserved dinner. It was a really good day-I really didn’t want to get in for that 3-hour swim but once I got in the water I actually enjoyed it most out of all the swims so far. I think that all those days when I’m in the pool and just want to be somewhere else are beginning to pay off!

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