A long swim in Looe

It was an early (for me) start on Wednesday and we had decided to make it my long swim day. As a result of the temperature (since I am not used to swimming long periods of time in it) we decided to do a split swim. We were aiming for two 3-hour long swims. We prepared all my feeds and made sure I had everything I needed, including some Channel Swim Grease, rather than just Vaseline as I had got chaffing under my right arm the previous day. Off we went.

We arrived at Looe and it actually reminded me a little bit of Hastings Old Town, with lots of little roads and independent shops. We drove down to the seafront in the hope of finding a disabled parking bay but they were full. We saw someone from the Lifeboat Station we drove past and asked them about parking to be told it was the main car park the otherside of town. Not an issue – if it wasn’t chucking it down. We parked up and started getting things out of the car and working out how we could carry it all. Just as I had attached my TriRide and got my bag on my chair the heavens opened and in seconds we were drenched. So much so that I went and hid under the shelter by the parking ticket machines; which is ridiculous considering I was going to be in the sea in half an hours time. Once the rain had calmed a little we wandered down to the seafront and found somewhere sheltered to leave all our stuff, it reminded me of a bus shelter but I didn’t care, as long as my stuff was going to be dry when I got out!

I changed and Loretta put sun cream and grease all over the open bits of my swim costume to help stop chafing and hopefully stop any jellyfish stings too. I also had some painkillers and got everything organised so it would be easy for Loretta when it came to her feeding me during the swim. We started wandering down to the water, the walk was a reasonable distance and it took me 2 stops/sits on the camp chair with a bit of a rest on each stop to get to the waters edge.  

Even when I got to the water it felt like it took forever to it actually get deep enough to even attempt swimming! I was going to be swimming across the width of the bay for 3 hours; no matter what happened with other people in the water, or with the weather I was to keep going.

I first swam to the harbour wall, where all the boats; including the lifeboat would appear from. After that I swam across the bay to the rocks on the other side and I repeated that again and again and again. After 1 hour 20min I had my first feed which was warm black current with Maltodextrin in it. I was getting a bit bored and looking for a distraction of anything. I was watching the fish and crabs but the most interesting thing came when I all of a sudden saw a blue, giant inflatable octopus on the shore. Only a couple of weeks ago I was talking to a friend about why you would want a giant inflatable Octopus and that it must be amusing if you put a hole in the bottom of it and let it go – the thought gave me a little giggle!

An hour later it was time for my next feed, being honest; I can’t remember what it was! By this point it was quite busy on the beach as the sun had come out. There were kids making sandcastles and paddling in the water and there were a couple of people that had hired paddle boards but couldn’t stand up and kept falling in and also a couple of kayaks out in the bay too. I didn’t mind the company as it made it more interesting having to watch out where other people were. It was nearing the time for me to go in and I made the error of starting to clock watch, which made time go slower. I did a final lap of the bay and headed to shore whilst Loretta got my crutches so I could get changed and go for lunch!

Once out and walking up the beach I had a few people asking how long I had been in the water for and they were all amazed when I said 3 hours but even more impressed when I said I had an hour break and was going to get back in for another 3 hours!

I went and got changed and we searched for somewhere to eat. We looked all round Looe for somewhere to get food and sit inside out of the wind but either places were inaccessible to me in my wheelchair, or they were closed! It was shocking that in the town there wasn’t a single place I could eat and get into!
In the end we had to get a takeaway and sat on the seafront eating them, I had cheesy chips, a Cornish pasty and a hot chocolate. The Cornish Pasty was nice but peppery, the cheesy chips were rather disappointing but the hot chocolate was nice. However, having a huge seagull looming over us rather took the enjoyment out of it. After we had eaten it was back to the sea!

I got changed into my second swimming costume, greased up again and headed back to the sea for a further 3 hours of swimming. Whilst I had been out of the water the wind had picked up and there was a little bit of chop on the water – at last, some fun in the waves! I got in and headed back to the harbour wall as before, turned and headed back across the bay and as I went I saw a huge crab, I had been seeing small ones all day but it was a spider crab and being honest, it made me jump! Loretta was walking along the shore as I swam, I knew it was her simply because she had luminous orange shoes on and they stood out. After an hour and 20min she gave me my first feed of the swim, it was supposed to include chocolate brownie squares but I was informed the seagulls had stolen them whilst Loretta was walking along the beach – cheeky sods! Instead I had a warm orange and passionfruit squash with peaches in syrup.

I was loving the swim, I had a great and consistent pace and rhythm going and was enjoying the waves and a bit of sea spray too. That was until I was lifted up by a wave and then suddenly face planted the floor because the tide had moved so much! I moved out a little further but it felt like I was a really long way out from the shore, which I don’t have a problem with but Loretta was trying to keep an eye on me and it was making things tricky for her. I had one more feed which included the magical solid food known as Haribo Starmix and knew I had under an hour before I would get out so just tried to enjoy the rest of the swim.

I eventually managed to walk up the slipway to where our stuff was, and I went and got changed and organised. I hadn’t realised the time – almost 5pm! Once we were all sorted we headed back to the car before heading home, all I could think of was that I would sleep well that night!

I was looking forwards to a bit of a lay in the following day and the chance to rest during the day too as our plan for Thursday was a night swim at Readymoney Cove and I was really looking forward to it and wanted to be well rested so I could enjoy it!

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