Its been a strange few weeks, training was going really well, I had a great training swim on 13th July where my wonderful swim buddy Val and I ventured to Holywell for the first time to see if the entry would be suitable for me. The idea was to swim downstream to Overcote and then upstream to the St.Ives bridge so that I could see where the river goes once you get past St.Ives as I have never been further downstream than St.Ives before. The idea was great, it would be approximately a 15km swim and it was a lovely day, if bit grey, for it too. I was on a bit of a go slow on the day of the swim so we left later than planned and then discovered a road was closed but eventually got to where we wanted to be. Val was unsure how far she was going to swim so, not only was she swimming with a tow float with nutrition and for visibility but also decided to tow her SUP so that when she had enough swimming she could paddle alongside me!
I decided to use my Ruckraft from Above Below (head to their website by clicking the picture). This tow float is designed for swim trekking but for me it is ideal as it has plenty of room for me to tow my crutches, nutrition, spare goggles, shoes and anything else that I may need during a swim and the best part is it feels so easy to tow! I will definitely be making more use out of it in the future.
We got in down the slipway, which was a pretty easy entry for me but it was a bit narrow, very weedy and a tad icky and I then almost had a heart attack when a fish that was about 4” long jumped out the water right in front of me. Heart attack over and the swim downstream to Overcote was lovely, so easy and so pretty. There was so much to see and I really hoped the rest of the swim would be just as easy and pleasant. After doing a very fast 2.5km we realised that we may struggle a little on the way back as we had clearly had a lot of help from the current on the way down to Overcote. Just as we expected, swimming back was tough it felt like we were either swimming on the spot or going backwards, I imagine it was a similar feeling to swimming in an endless swimming pool. Nevertheless, we kept pushing forwards and managed to get back to Holywell near where we started.
Val decided she had, had enough but on this occasion I wanted to see if I could push forward through the current to St.Ives. Recently I have struggled when swimming against even the slighted current and had got a bit of a mental block against it so it always felt much harder work than it actually is so I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to try and get past my mental block. Val got on her paddleboard and after having something to eat and drink I pushed forwards towards St.Ives.
Putting it bluntly – it was bloody hard work.
I know that Windermere can be choppy, it can be busy with boats and it is hard work and the last time I faced strong currents in a river swim I gave up so this time I was determined not to! I kept pushing forwards and in total battled against the current for about 4.5 hours, this was as much a mental challenge as it was physical. The river was quite weedy and one of the issues that I had that was making me feel like I was going backwards was being able to see the weeds being pushed by the current, it made me feel like I wasn’t moving. I tried many different things in terms of distracting myself so I could keep going but it still didn’t help that every-time I looked down it made me feel like I was going backwards. I then realised that there was an incredibly obvious solution to my problem…close my eyes. For the rest of the swim whenever I put my head down, I closed my eyes and somehow that made me feel like I was actually moving forwards.
I am beginning to realise that sometimes the simplest things are often the solution!
A couple of kayakers went past us and informed us the sluice gate was open, which explained the unusually strong current but I still kept swimming and battling the current until I ran out of time as I had to back home in time for my carers coming to make my dinner! The swim back to Holywell was fun, it almost felt like I was going down a slide and took less than half the time it did to get to where I was.
nutrition plan had worked well and was easy and I had managed to keep going past the point where I wanted to give up because of the strong current. In total it ended up being a 12km swim.
Wednesday was my normal weekly Lake Ashmore swim where I did just over 3km, Thursday was a pretty intense personal training session working on my lower back and core strength and I ended my week of activity with a 2km skins swim at Hinchingbrooke Country Park.
My plan was to do a further swim at Lake Ashmore on Saturday morning so that I could bring my total distance up to just over 20km but I woke up with severe abdominal pain. I thought that it may be DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) from my Personal Training session. I figured I would rest over the weekend at my parents, obviously take Reggie for a run as the sun was setting because it was so hot and then be back on form ready for smashing out a 15km swim on Tuesday.
Weekly Stats –
Lake 2 – 5200m
River 1 – 12040m