CHANGE OF FEED SAVED THE SWIM.
Robert swung in my feed, this was different…far better tasting than my viper active. Robert asked how I felt, not wanting sympathy it was important to tell the truth so I replied “shit!” Unless I was told first I would make a point of asking how the swim was looking. Every time it was positive comments “Looking Great” “Far better than Windermere”! This was what I wanted to hear and I got it!
SLOWLY BUT SURELY.
Hour after hour my mind and body began to grow stronger, armed with top advice from top swimmers positive thoughts began to flood in. “every arm pull gets you closer to France” (Jean Wilkin-Oxley), “if you get good conditions you will do it” (Liane Llewyln), “You won’t be cold in the channel, only Vaseline needed” (Robert Hodgson).
My most positive spell between 11 and 13 miles: My dear father was born on and died on the 13th! This mile was for my dad, this was not guess work as Robert and Hannah had been plotting the course meticulously showing me mile markers along the way. A pattern was beginning to emerge: for the first time I had filled the remaining miles of the swim with a previously completed swim of the same distance in other words with only 7 miles to go I told myself I only had an “ullswater” to do.
Due to the fact I was only swimming to the next feed throughout the whole swim I measured this in my head by saying “in only 2 to 4 feeds I will be entering into Coniston water”. This strategy was working really well for me.
Not too sure whereabouts in this swim I was stung by a jelly fish, I heard Robert shout “Jelly Fish”! and seconds later I was stung. For the minor discomfort it was worth the battle scar and the talking point. At one point I remember seeing a lot of them about 4 feet down looking like mushrooms of various shapes and sizes. At this juncture France is appearing larger and for the first time I was allowing myself to believe that this could be a real possibility. Fascinated with what lay ahead of me, sometimes it would be a distant chemical plant, others a hillside or rolling landscapes. The tide must have been sweeping me along at a rate of knots. This moment was to be short lived as I was about to get the “hard word”.
THE HARD WORD.
Told I was doing ok but that I must stop pausing to breast stroke in order to admire the view of France. From now on I was not to stop swimming, keep my head down and get on with it! I was told I could have a look at France when I get to the next feed!
This was just the advice I needed and I picked up the pace accordingly. Not only was I trying to swim to France, I was trying to impress Robert too.
In 2009 Robert suggested I tried swim therapy to improve my stroke, two visits to swim therapy, two years of hard training and now inside the final 5 miles of the swim and looking at the French coast. I distinctly remember not wanting to place my hand smoothly in the water anymore. I had watched you tube footage of Rebecca Lewis smashing her arms into the water during her record breaking channel swim. I was emulating this to conserve energy in my arms taking me into the last four miles.
Two way Lyn Padarn is all that was between me and France! Around this point came messages of support. “Hurry up Evelyn (from Varn Ridge) wants to put the flag out”, This gave me a strong mental image of pushing toward the flag, I wanted my mum to see the flag flying high.
Knowing that this was a critical stage of the swim more support was coming in thick and fast. Hannah showed me Alexandra’s card..I shouted “open it” as there was a picture of my beautiful Alexandra inside. Also wanting my daughter to be able to say at the age of 6 that her Daddy swam the channel! Around the same time my brother relayed the message “I wish I was stood on the side of the boat so that I could piss on you” Robert appeared uncomfortable relaying this message, but knowing my brother I knew what he meant and it spurred me on.
I had lovely messages on the white board from mum, Caley and Dolly.