Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Sea-sickness and Sorrow......
Andy is our strongest swimmer and set off at a strong pace whilst I'll immediately curled up on all our bags and feel asleep. I was exhausted! So I missed most of Andy's swim but woke up to watch how the hand-over to Mike was supposed to take place and then napped again for half an hour until it was my turn. I prepped my cossie, goggles and hat and attached the bright green lights to my costume and goggle strap. I applied a little vaseline to my neck and got ready to head in. Though I was somewhat unamused by the prospect of a freezing cold night swim and a bit apprehensive about how I would cope swimming next to the boat, I was also excited.
So, I can honestly say that 60mins was the hardest ever, it made me want to cry on a par with the horrific never-ending desert night trek in Libya. As everyone else breathed to the right the boat was set up so we swam with it on our right. Unfortunately I breathe to my left and whilst in the calm waters of the pool I can happily bi-lateral breathe, I had no hope in the ridiculously choppy waters. As we had missed the neap tide slot which is typically calmer we had no choice but to swim on a spring tide which is typically choppier and it was living up to expectations. It was as much as a could do to breathe at all let alone breathe to my weaker side so sighting the boat became a breathe, take stroke, swivel head in random owl-like manner to check where the boat was, swivel head back, breathe on normal side, take stroke routine that basically meant I went nowhere fast! As I had such difficulty getting into the rhythm I also got freezing cold and not knowing quite how to place myself in relation to the boat meant sometimes I was miles away (scary and not endearing to the pilot who is trying to look after you) and other times I literally thought the boat would come crashing down on me. It is so choppy that sometimes you are happily placed just a few feet to the side of the boat and then a wave will hit and it will loom up over you and you definitely feel you are about to be squashed!
After an eternity the white light signalling my turn was up came and I scurried back to the boat to swop with Chris who jumped into the water and swam past me on the takeover to his stint. Unfortunately being back on the boat was not the joy I expected it to be as, usually for me, I got sea-sick. Not enough to actually be sick but enough to make me feel awful. The problem was that anytime I moved anywhere I felt really nauseous. It was easy to manage by lying deadly still on my back but it meant I couldn't move to dry myself, get proper clothes on, make a hot drink etc. Thankfully Ad had reminded me to bring my sleeping bag and eventually after about 30mins of violent shivering it usually warmed me up enough. The biggest problem was that I couldn't force myself to either eat or drink and was in danger of dehydration and totally running out of energy.
I have done a lot of endurance events and have always felt I have the mental capacity to complete whatever I attempt no matter what. Coming out of the water in the dark was the first time I have thought I could possibly fail at something and began to appreciate the massive challenge a solo swim is. At that point I felt so low that I nearly said to the others that I didn't think I could do it (they later said they pretty much all felt the same). Luckily, doing a relay means that if you quit you ruin other people's hopes and dreams too and that was a huge motivator to keep me going. If I had just been on my own I think it may have been a little different!
Luckily the next time I woke up for my second stint the dawn had broken and I felt a lot more comfortable in the water. As I could see the boat better I didn't mind spending longer between sights and thus could get a bit more a rhythm and wasn't quite so cold. The sun was just breaking through and that time is my favourite time of the day so for the first half an hour or so I was a lot more relaxed and happier. I did start to get a little cold towards to end of the second half of the hour but things were looking more positive..........