Saturday morning came round much quicker than I wanted so when my alarm clock went off, I snoozed it. My sisters alarm went off and she snoozed it, my alarm went off again and I turned it off, pulled the duvet up and turned over trying to go back to sleep. Sadly (sort of), my sisters alarm then went off again and this time she got up. Shortly after I was threatened with a rolled-up towel being used as a whip on my head; I reluctantly got out of bed.
After breakfast we finished getting all my stuff ready and headed to the swimmers beach. Once there I checked in, got changed and organised. Like the previous night, one of the volunteers came and gave me a safety briefing as I couldn’t get to the beach where the main one was happening and I told them my plan for the day 2x5km (one morning, lunch then one in the afternoon). One thing I wasn’t told (and didn’t realise till I was in the water) was that I hadn’t been told what the course was so I tried to remember what I had read; Red buoy, Green buoy, Yellow buoys.
I headed down the slipway with the help of my sister and somehow being able to see the water made me fear it was colder. However, since there were more people about and I thought my sister might be videoing or taking a photo, I felt less able to scream and swear as I had the previous night.
After some internal swearing I started swimming towards the red buoy, for some reason I just couldn’t relax though. The waves weren’t huge, but they were coming from different places because of the ferries turning round and initially I found it quite disorientating. As a result, I didn’t realise that there were 2 green buoys, and I was aiming for the wrong one! It wasn’t until I realised that I was the only swimmer around that I was WAY too far out and to make it worse I couldn’t see any buoys at all. I decided my best bet was to swim towards the shore and eventually, I saw a yellow buoy. After that my heart rate dropped and I finally started to feel a bit more comfortable.
After my first lap I went into shore just to double check that I was now going round the right buoys; I was. My second lap was much better and I felt strong, confident and was unbelievably happy to be where I was! Half way round I thought I saw a plane overhead, the next breathe I thought it was a drone. I couldn’t work out why on earth there would be a drone flying about above the water, I ignored it and kept swimming.
Next, I thought I saw a tiny little jellyfish, it was so cute and automatically thought of Finding Nemo, named him Squishy and tried to remember the rest of the quote. I was then, once again distracted by the drone but I suddenly realised it wasn’t a drone and it definitely wasn’t following me; in fact, it was a seagull. A seagull made much more sense than a drone, after all, I was in the sea! With the realisation that I hadn’t in fact completely lost the plot, I pushed on through some big and pretty choppy waves. I felt great and I was debating staying in to do my 6 hour qualifier instead of getting out after just 5km!
- I would complete my qualifier
- I wouldn’t have to push myself as hard or as swim as long on Sunday
- I wouldn’t be as tired when travelling home if I didn’t have to swim for as long.
- My motivation tomorrow would be lower as I would have already achieved what I wanted to that weekend
- I hadn’t planned for it with my extra painkillers
- I would likely be in a lot of pain on Sunday and possibly unable to get a 3rd sea swim.
After a long think through the pros and cons I decided I would actually do my 5km and finish it feeling great and super strong but I wouldn’t get back in for a second 5km. Instead, I would rest through the afternoon before I took on my longest and furthest sea swim that I’ve done in the sea, possibly ever the following day.
Once I had decided that I realised I had already been in the water for nearly 2 hours, which is when I was supposed to be going to shore for a feed but I also realised that I only had 750m to go until I reached my goal of 5km so instead of going to shore I gave it one last push and went hard for the final part of the swim. I hit 5km at 2 hours and 16 minutes, quicker than I thought I would be and feeling much, much stronger and better than I thought I would. I headed to shore for the fun part – getting out the sea!
I waved to shore, so my sister knew to come and bring my wheelchair and crutch down the slipway. I walked as far as I could on the shingle holding onto the wall, sat on the wall and put my shoes on so I had some grip on the slipway and slowly using a crutch and the wall walked like a crab up the beach! If anything, I was more tired from that than I was the 5km swim! My sister pushed me up the last bit of slipway to the top where I went and started to get changed.
I was not 100% set on not getting back in, so I asked others’ opinions and they all said that my suggestion was a sensible one. I then got to see my pilot and introduced her to my sister too. We had a chat and catch up (it’s the same pilot I had when I was 15 and last year for my relays) and I also asked her advice around feeding as its something I have been struggling with.
After that, my sister and I headed back to the hotel and after we had lunch I totally crashed and went to bed. My sister and I then both went to bed and slept for several hours. At around 3pm I was rudely awoken by the fact I suddenly found myself on the floor, it took me a few seconds to realise that I had actually rolled over and out of bed onto the floor in a heap. I got back into bed and went back to sleep for a further hour before getting up and waking my sister up to go out for dinner.
We wandered through town to a local pub where I scoffed my face with a mixed grill, chips, and onion rings and to top that off we went to Kasper’s for a cookie dough and ice cream dish, after which I felt sick. We went back to the hotel and started sorting all my stuff out ready for my qualifier swim on Sunday, my biggest and longest sea swim for years, if not ever!