long distance swimming

When Your Snorkel Snares Your False Teeth…

Dad in Spain 2013

I’ve been on holiday, but I haven’t stopped being active and having fun.

I’m just back from Torremolinas in Spain, where I took my dad to celebrate his 88th birthday.  We stayed in the Sol Aloah Puerto 4-star hotel with a deal from Clickandgo.com travel – and I’ve got to say we had a ball. it wasn’t a freebie or a sponsorship or anything, so I’ve no avaricious reason to promote or advertise the travel company or the hotel, other than to say how brilliant they were and how fantastic they were in tailoring the trip to myself and dad.  They really delivered and I think that’s worth a shout-out.  Thanks lads.

Sol Aloah Puerto

The hotel is situated right on the beach between two Irish bars, walking distance from the Marina, with plenty of shops and restaurants nearby, and the sea-front promenade that comes alive at night with a magical display of impromptu music, traders and entertainers.  During the day we soaked up the sun, ate too much, enjoyed happy hour and spent ages in the sea Although the Med hadn’t quite warmed up to Summer temperatures, it was certainly warmer than my Sunday swims in Malahide.  During the trip, Dad came kayaking with me, and body boarding and sailing – which is all pretty impressive, given the fact that he doesn’t swim!

The snorkelling was going well too, until the mouthpiece snagged in his false teeth….

Joking aside, what a fantastic spirit my dad has, and what an inspiration.  Every day he shows me how life is a dream come true – you just have to wake up and live the dream. I’ve got 40 years of fun ahead of me, to get to where my dad is now, and he’s still open to new adventures.  I just can’t wait until tomorrow to see what we both do next. xxx

Back in Training

On holidays:

  • 1,000 metre swims twice daily, 2 half-hour kayak trips, 30-min jogs each morning at dawn, some snorkelling, body-boarding and sailing, lots of walking.

Back Home:

  •  Monday June 17th – 30k cycle / Returned to kayak with Wild Water Kayak Club, this time helping the instructors with the new recruits – 1 year after starting out as a newbie-paddler myself.  (Awe…… )
  • Tuesday June 18th – 30k cycle, 45-mins weights session in gym, climbing with a mate at Awesome Walls.
  • Wednesday June 19th – 30k cycle, 45-mins weights session in gym, running training at Le Cheile AC
  • Thursday June 20th – 30k cycle
  • Friday June 21st – Rest Day
  • Saturday June 22nd – 25kilometre hike ‘Walk The Line’ fundraiser for Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue
  • Sunday June 23rd – kayak boat cover for Get Off The Couch at Lough Sheelin long-distance swim event

 

 

Dipping A Toe In The Sand

I’m standing on the shore and the old guys coming out of the water are telling me it’s the best it’s been all year, and much warmer than yesterday.  Now yesterday was bloody cold, so any improvement is welcome.  But the sun is shining and looking at their open, friendly faces, I believe them.  Idiot!

Plunging into the waves, the shock almost takes my breathe away.   I come up for air (and to scream), only to get a face full of salty water, as the next strong roller nearly knocks me on my back.  Struggling to right myself and grasp a breath, I come up again and sneak a glance at the girls on either side. We’ve got a couple of channel swimmers out tonight and their long limbs sweep palely ahead into the torn and angry sea as they pull ahead, aiming for High Rock or maybe even the Tower – far out of my league.  There’s Jessica from last night, who’s been ‘minding’ me for a couple of swims now, and is fast becoming a life-line.  Either I get quicker, or I’ll soon become a nuisance, but for the moment I’m happy to accept the help and the company out here.

The high breakers are new to me and it’s a case of head down and push to get out beyond the break-water, then on a choppy but less violent sea, I get back into my stroke and my rhythmn and swim out parallel to the shore in the direction of High Rock.  I’m not used to this choppy water, but after a while I start to enjoy the slap and battle of pushing through.  It seems faster than last night when I spot the red bars of the High Rock bathing spot ahead… and it probably was faster, because when I turn to head back, the tide hits me in the face – lifting me up out of the water and slapping me down through air onto the green sloping waves below.  I realised too that I’d managed to get myself seperated from the rest of the swimmers who had broken into groups.   I could see a couple of caps heading off in the distance, presumably aiming for The Tower and for a moment I hesitated and thought I should follow.  But it was cold, and rough, and I hadn’t swum in sea this rough before, so I gather myself and head for home.

It was much rougher swimming into the diagonal surf and I felt I was being battered as I pushed on, but once I got used to the rough and tumble I began to enjoy it, and with the sun piercing through the greeny light of the water, I felt a grin working its way between my ears.   After about 20 minutes I see the yellow blaze of the clubhouse up ahead and relax a little.  I take my bearing between a type of castle silloutted against the setting sun and a dark blip somewhere in the distance towards Malahide, and push ahead, checking my landmarks every 15 or 20 strokes.  My swimming colleagues caught up and checked me out before bolting off ahead.  I so wish I had their speed, but maybe in time.   Approaching the swim-in to Low Rock, my buddy Vanessa pops up beside me like a seal, but wearing a pink swimming cap.  Laughing she commented on the waves and advised me to ‘dig in’ for the shore and dig-in I did!  It was a tough swim in, for me the toughest of the 43 minutes I spent in the water tonight.  I felt the waves pulling me back away from the beach despite my best efforts, but gradually I could see the shore coming towards me, and before long I chanced a toe down, and with relief gripped the sandy bottom below.  I’d made it.  Pulling myself from the water, I hesitated and took a few steps slowly back into the surf.  It felt warmer than the air around me, and felt welcoming.   Maybe it’s true.  Maybe you do finally begin to acclimatise to this lark….  hmmmmm…

PS.  I made the WeightWatchers’ weigh-in on the way home.  I lost a half a pound this week.   I’ll take it! 🙂

Fingers and Fins Crossed…

Day two at Malahide.  A solo swim with ‘Chanimal’ Fergal Somerville, my long-distance swimmer angel who’s taken me under his considerable wing, to give me tips on how to make a 750m open water swim in Roscommon this Sunday – in 30 minutes.

You’ll know from yesterday’s training blog that the pressure is on with a vengeance.  I agreed to do the ‘swim’ section of a relay triathlon in Lough Key Forest Park, but didn’t realise until last week that there was a disqualification time; which means I’m now at risk of getting my whole team chucked out, if I don’t get my speed up!  *gulp*

Tonight we arrived at Middle Rock beach in Malahide as the tide was ‘filling’ or ‘coming in’.  There were no other swimmers and despite the sunny evening, I shivered at the thought of getting into the cold water.   I’ve dipped into the sea a couple of times now, but that first couple of minutes when I’m getting used to the cold, still doesn’t seem to be getting any easier!

As soon as I stopped gasping for breath, I reached out and pulled off in the direction of High Rock, the plan being to swim for 30 minutes again tonight, but try and cover a bit more ground.   I was anxious to try out some tips that my friends on FB had been suggesting over the past 24 hours.  I shortened my breathing periods, breathing on every fourth stroke instead of every 6th.   I pushed my legs deeper into the water and tried to avoid losing energy by letting them splash, and I continued with Fergal’s advice and made long, steady strokes, concentrating on making my arms enter and leave the water cleanly.

I got into a really fast rhythm and swam and swam, until Fergal swam up for a check and chat again and told me I’d been swimming 10 minutes. I felt amazing, I felt I was flying tonight. I looked up and looked around in anticipation.  I reckoned I had gone way past High Rock and was on my way to the next point, the Tower.   I looked hard, searching out recognisable landmarks, trying to make my eyes cut through the setting sun to make sense of the dark silhouette of the shore.   I pulled my goggles off in amazement.  I was nowhere close!  I had got twice this distance in the same time last night.  I wasn’t gutted, but I was a bit browned off.  Was I tired, were the different strokes slowing me down?  How could I have felt so fast and swam so short a distance.  After a quick chat with Fergal I decided I wanted to keep going – so we ended up swimming out for 20 minutes.  I actually made it past High Rock and halfway to the tower before deciding to turn back – prepared for another 20 minute swim back.  That would give me a swim of 40 mins instead of 30, so even if I’d missed out on speed, it would help my fitness and endurance, and that can’t hurt on Sunday.

We turned, and the sun sparkled on the drops running down my arm as I stretched out and swam back into the dying gold of the day.   I kept my head out of the water for a couple of minutes as I swam.  I didn’t feel tired.  I wasn’t scared about the 20 minute return trip, and I took a few moments to simply enjoy the swim and the sea and the low flying birds that seemed to skate along the surface of the surrounding sea.   Head down I pushed on again and 10 minutes later, I got a tap on the shoulder from a laughing Fergal.   We were back at Middle Rock.   20-minutes to swim out and just 10 to get back.  He explained we’d had a tougher current than we thought running against us on the trip out, and it helped us on the return.  I ended up doing a slightly longer swim than last night, in about the same time.   And that folks, means I probably did the 750m in 30 mins!!!   Okay, difficult to judge what role the tides played, and I’ll have to wear a wetsuit under the rules on Sunday, which might either help or hinder me…but mentally – I feel more confident.   I think I can do it.   I’m not convinced I will – but I’m confident that I can.

Now all I can do is continue to train gently up to about Friday and have a rest day on Saturday and then give it sox on Sunday.   Fingers and fins crossed!  lol…  and if you have any more tips for me, feel free to add a comment down below.

xxx

 

To Swim or Not to Swim….

Well, I’m hoping to have a matching photo for this shot – by the end of the day.   This is Fergal Sommerville or ‘Chanimal’ to his friends.  Fergal swam the English Channel last November in a super time, and he’s taking me out swimming today at Malahide.  I’ve swum with Fergal and the High-Rock swimmers before, quite a few times.  Fergal had dared me to swim in the Irish Sea, and I said I would, if he swam the channel..  at the time I didn’t know that was exactly what he was training to do!!!   You could say, he snookered me!

Anyway, I may have swam with them before, but never like today.  I’m a in a different frame of mind and I’m ready to change the stakes.  I’m probably motivated by the prospect of my triathlon swim in Roscommon on Sunday, when I have to swim 750m in a lake in under 30-mins or risk disqualifying the rest of my relay team from the cycle and running laps.  Today in Malahide I want to push the envelope a bit.

The pressure’s on, and for the first time I want to put myself to a bit of a test.  On previous swims, I just swam out with the pack for about 10 minutes and then struck back for home.  Today I want to try and put a bit of distance under my belt.  I’ve never swam long enough to get tired, so I have no idea what will happen if I swim a decent distance – but run out of steam on the way back.

There’s lots of questions in my mind; will I get cold, will I get tired, will I make a fool of myself, should I try it without a wetsuit?

Should have a few answers for you by tomorrow!    Fingers crossed……

Paddle Power…

What has HAPPENED to me?

I’m planning to camp out and go Kayaking in the rain, this weekend in Galway; and I’m stunned to discover that I’m excitedly looking forward to it. Where has girly Gates gone?

Anyway, great event this weekend.  It’s the ‘big splash’ Inishbofin swim.   Half a dozen hardy souls are planning to swim from Cleggan Harbour to Inishbofin Island – that’s 8 miles in tough conditions.   I used to keep a horse on the Island and I’ve spent many an afternoon getting sick on the ferry over,  so I know how choppy those Atlantic waters can be.

I’m not swimming – but I’ve offered to Kayak to help with the ‘boat cover’ for the swimmers.   I reckon it will be great experience and a hard work-out in preperation for my ‘Concern’ kayak challenge in Uganda this November.   I have absolutely no idea whether I can ‘go the distance’.  My new Kayak friends say it’s not likely; I’m not experienced enough, and my kayak is a very short ‘sit-on’ which means I’ll have a wet ass and very little stability in big waves!

The organisers have promised to pull me out of the water if it’s not working though, and I’ve got all the safety gear, so I’m not worried about that end of things.  They’ve also told me they don’t mind if I wimp out and they promise I won’t be causing a problem if they have to fish me out.   So all bases seem to be covered.  Now all I need to do is get wet and work up some blisters.   (I think I’d better bring gloves).  Wish me luck – and I’ll let you know on Monday how I got on.

I’ll also let you know how the swimmers did – they’re heroes already for even thinking of doing it, and they’re all swimming for various charities too.  Can’t wait to meet them all.

Have a great weekend, whatever you’re doing.  And remember , if you’re thinking of getting active – stop thinking about it, just get up and do it.   If I can, anyone can.  🙂

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