Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day 4: The Qualifier

We had an early start on the morning of the 6-hour Channel qualifying swim. I expected to wake up feeling nervous about it but I didn’t start to get butterflies until after breakfast (or maybe it was just indigestion from all the food I had stuffed down my throat!!!). We got greased up and got in the water for an 8:30am start. The plan for our group was to do 8 laps of the bay outside the hotel and then head along the cliffs for a 5km swim to a larger bay, where we would stay for the rest of the time. So we started off with our nice wide circles, and we had 4 done when Lizzie came over to us and told us that the groups were separating too much and to start heading out along the cliffs. So we did. It was a bit choppier when we got out of the bay, but I didn’t mind that, it took my mind off the cold! Apparently at this stage there was thunder and lightning off in the distance and they toyed with the idea of calling off the swim-thankfully they decided that we were ok for now! Then my worst nightmares appeared…jellies. Lots of them. We swam through them for at least 10minutes before reaching clear water and this time I wasn’t so lucky, I got a few stings. At first I was panicking, having to breathe every two strokes just to get air in. But after a couple of minutes I got used to them and just kept swimming fast to try to get away from them. So maybe it was a good thing-I need to get used to them at some stage!

When we got closer to our destination we were told that the bay that we were swimming towards was full of jellies and that we wouldn’t be able to swim there. So instead we were to turn around and head back to the bay outside the hotel and finish off the 6-hours there. I don’t know what upset me more about this news-the fact that we were going to be spending 2 or 3 hours going around in small circles, or the thoughts of the jellyfish that we would have to swim back through to get there! But there was nothing for it except to turn around and start swimming. 

It was an eventful trip back. First of all we hit the jellies again. The tide or the current must have been sweeping them in because the sea was thick with them on the way back. They were all you could see in the water and every stroke we were getting stung. My lips and face got very sore from all the stinging. One went down the front of my swimsuit (something which I have always dreaded!) but I didn’t even stop to take it out-I figured that the time I was stopped I’d only be getting stung more. Thankfully it made its own way out somehow!! It seemed to take forever but eventually we got past them. And then the weather decided that it would test us. A storm rolled in and we had thunder and lightning and rain…I was just really hoping that they wouldn’t pull us at that stage because we had about 3 hours done and I didn’t really like the prospect of starting it all over again. Now if they had tried to pull us during the jellyfish attack it would have been a different story...!

Eventually we got back to the bay and things were calm after that. Freda mixed up a nice strong feed for us at 5 hours and we got yummy kit-kats, a nice surprise! So that had us going strong for the last hour-myself and Mark even sprinted to the boat at the end (although I must admit I called the sprint a little early-by the time we got there I was winded!!). 6 hours and 3 minutes…and I came out of there wanting to do more. A very successful qualifying swim :)

Of course the rest of the evening was spent eating and drinking and celebrating the day’s achievements! Everyone did really well, a good day's work!!

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