Back To The Swim
The pace came very naturally not too fast, not too slow. Prior to the swim I was asked by Mikey which side of the boat I would like to swim on. With no hesitation I chose to have the boat on my left (starboard). I do swim bi-lateral but favour my left as I keep my head lower in the water and become more streamlined. I was very happy knowing that I would only be swimming in the dark for a couple of hours. This was a massive positive for me. I was surprised at how choppy the water was and prayed that the water would not knock my hat in turn making goggles leak. For the 1st half hour or so this was not a problem. I also remember in the early part of the swim I wasn’t too happy breathing on my right as it was pitch black but on my left the Viking Princess was lit up like a Christmas tree with the watchful eye of Robert or Hannah looking on (sometimes together). I think I would have been easy to spot as I had one green battery operated flashing light on my trunks and one on my goggles. The observer likes two light sticks on his swimmers so he attached a yellow snap chemical type to my trunks prior to the swim.
The first half hour went quickly even though I drank my feed it was more of a practice session for every one rather than a well-earned feed. I remember the water still being very choppy. It may not have looked it from the boat but I felt very uncomfortable and prayed for calmer waters ahead. The chop of the waves was relentless and almost as if I knew it was going to happen my hat moved and my goggles leaked. Very early on in the swim I decided not to wear my hat. Before too long my 2nd feed came around. I remember seeing Robert with a basket on a pole being lowered toward me…I thought that the pole seemed a little short and had to swim right over to the basket! Unfortunately it had been splashed with the salt water so I just took half a bite of the Jaffa Cake and threw the rest away. Not knowing it at the time, this was to be the only solid food that I would have during the swim.
NEARLY DAY BREAK.
Not too long now before I would be swimming in day light! I got a glimpse of the sun rise appearing over the water’s edge. This made me feel very happy! They say a “watched kettle never boils”….well, a watched sunrise can certainly take its time as well! As I was breathing to my left I would catch a beautiful glimpse of the sunrise…only to have to plunge my face into the cold, murky, salty water! Followed by a breath to the right where it was total dark with only the white cliffs of Dover visible. It was a good job I made the most of the sunrise as little did I know what was about to come next…
Robert advised me it would be better to swim around the other side of the boat (the stern I think). The boat stopped and I swam around it as soon as possible so as not to waste time. The water on this side was calmer but I felt more awkward as I was pushed into the boat due to the current. Well aware of my surroundings knowing I was a lot closer to the propeller and the exhaust my problems on this side of the boat were about to begin. I kept slipping behind the boat inhaling the diesel fumes whose effect on me was immediate. I paused for a moment to tread water and tried to vomit. The noises and actions were there but no vomit. Not wanting to waste any more time I swam on hoping that the nausea would pass. I soon realised it would help if I breathed bi-lateral due to the fact that if I swam two or more strokes consistently on my left I could be nearly touching or behind the boat. On many occasions taking in an unhealthy dose of fumes! Soon I began to feel very sick again, this time there was no messing…from where I was treading water it looked like projectile vomiting coming with such a force above my head line! I was able to carry on swimming but still felt very sick.
THE LOW POINT.
This was the worst part of this swim. Remembering on one occasion when I looked up I always tried to make eye contact when possible, at this point when I looked up there appeared to be no one on deck! My mind was taking me places where I didn’t really want to go, my conclusion was that they were having a meeting, probably saying “let’s look at the facts”. “obviously he`s not well, losing his hat so early on and now losing the entire contents of his stomach. We don’t want a casualty on our hands…lets pull him out”
I had started the swim with a mind full of positive thoughts locked in by a bullet proof door where no negative thoughts could enter. I realised at this point I was having a very serious wobble, however, I hung on in there and tried to make the best progress I could by having a “word” with the big man upstairs along the way!
If they had said “it’s not your day” I was more than willing at this time to get out and call it a day. I would have loved to have said nothing would ever stop me but sadly that’s not how I felt.