Swim the Big Blue – Just when you thought it could not get any tougher!
I turn up in Key West early June for three weeks of training. Who turned up the temperature gauge!? Wow!! It was 88F air and 82-85F water temp with 80+% humidity! As a UK citizen, this was a shock and still an increase of some 6+ degrees from my previous camp of some 5 weeks before.
Training commenced with a mix of pool swims at 12-15Km endurance pace and 8-10km fast pace. In open water of Gulf of Mexico and The Atlantic, we battled with the tide to the point it took nearly an hour to swim 1.5 miles in one direction, 22 minutes in reverse J I got attacked by Jelly Fish, and not the big ones, but the little ones which you really cannot see – it was as if electrified needles were being splashed across my body. Not fun. In fact debilitating energy wise, and this made me very angry and aggressive! Not conducive with good swimming as I am sure you will all know. However, white vinegar spray works to reduce the impact.
However, training was going well until the 2nd week when I went down with Heat Exhaustion. My body simply could not rid me of heat in the conditions I was in; headache, nausea, vomit and sleep followed. Hydration however increased to 6 litres per day, better use of sodium and electrolyte mixes, diet shifts to more protein and good fats and an increase of diet to 7,500 calories per day and I recovered in 3 days. Lessons learnt and noted for the big swim… Keep cool, Keep Calm and Carry on swimming! 🙂 And no matter how hard this gets, I will never give up! After all, if we do push ourselves, further our boundaries and knowledge, then we are missing out on life. Never give up!
Despite all the build-up and training, the US Coastguard shelved the Round Island Swim due to lightning storms and unsafe conditions for support kayaks. To say I was fed up, was an understatement. But if it is not safe, why jeopardise my team’s safety or my own; even pool swimming was off limits due to lightning. So I jumped on a flight home, with only one thing in my mind: lift yourself and concentrate on the School events weeks being run before the next training camp on 4th July.
With feelings being a bit of a mess this month on a personal level, frustrations with sponsor acquisition and training interruptions lowering my mood I hit the high of entering schools week for talks and fundraisers! The children were awesome and have given me memories I will use in the swim to inspire me when times are tough and I will treasure these memories forever. All of them were incredible, spurring me on with their individual triumphs, as Ethan and Jacob did at Charlton Kings Junior School, to overcome their personal challenges to swim their 1st ever length; the whole school swam nearly 10,000 lengths of their pool in total (which equates to almost 4 days of my big swim) and even now they stop me on the streets, in the cinema or in the pool, inspired by what we are aiming to achieve in November. This month has been an emotional rollercoaster and the schools and their wonderful children, as well as my support team, remind me of why I am doing this, putting myself through the pain, mental stress and frustration to achieve this epic world 1st.
A final note:
Planning is underway for a nice long swim in August from Key West to Miami and the Rome to Sardinia swim in September to launch Arena’s wetsuit for my big swim, is also being prepared for. Keep up with my blog for more detail, film and photos.
A final treat for me was the trial of Arena’s new Triathlon range, racing carbon wetsuit in a 35C pool; this was outstanding in both speed and comfort. Awesome! I have recommended this to Triathlete friends already. The flexion in the arms and lack of resistance in the shoulder worked perfectly and I found in these temperatures, I was warm but not overheating. My core felt more stable and legs positioned just a little higher in the water, leading to a loss of nearly 5 seconds per 100m at cruising pace (usually cruising pace is 1:55/100m) The suit brought my time down to 1:50/100m average! Buy one or miss out in training and races. I highly recommend it and I will be using it in UK OW training sessions.
Are you looking for perfect clothing for your training? Take a look here!