Dawn on Cottesloe Beach. Am I more calm than last year? Most definitely so. Am I more confident? Probably so. Am I going to carry on asking and answering my own questions? Probably not.
One year later, 12 months closer to the channel. In February 2013 it all seemed so exciting and so far away. February 2014, and I was only 19 weeks from the channel. Still excited but also mighty scared.
Conditions were better than last year; no 30-40 km winds and sideways rain on the preceding evening… the days leading up to the race had foretold nothing but wonderful conditions.
Found my paddler and boat quicker than last year: Nicki in the paddle saddle, Scottie and Captain Paul on the boat. It was a great swim: strong start middle and finish. One significant lesson learned: if you make up a mixture of milo, maltodxtrin and water the day before and its about 28-30 degrees, be sure to keep it chilled, or maybe keep the powder and make it up when you needed. At the first feed I noticed it tasted funny… a bit like milk that’d gone over; by the third or fourth I was pretty sure I’d worked it out: milo contains milk solids, that becomes milk liquids and that goes sour. But it was all I had to nourish me so I just took a dose of HTFU with my feeds. I went hard for the last 5 km and felt really good, coming in at 6h25m18s, 26 minutes quicker than last year… really happy! As you can see from my photo. The old guy behind me is Gerd Von Dincklage-Schulinburg, the first ever person to swim Rottnest Channel in 1956!
But suddenly its 13 weeks to go! Since Rotto I’ve been gradually increasing the distance again; last week I swam 38km (my hips and shoulders felt like I’ve been beaten with a lead pipe!) and the distances are probably only going to get greater. But massage cures many things and I’m fighting fit once again!
Just need to focus on not getting sick: regular massages and stretching, eat well and try to maintain and gain weight; my weight is fluctuating somewhat and while I lost 3.5 kg in 4 weeks I seem to be on top of it and gaining once more! Hooray! I love a sport where you try to get fat!
Apart from a brief period of illness when half of the squad were struck down with chlorine pneumonitis, I’m doing alright. A new chemical concoction at Vic Park pool led to an accumulation of chlorine on the surface of the pool and one anaerobic threshold set later I needed a course steroids, an inhaler and a few days rest!
The ocean is amazing at the moment: on dark morning swims the water sparkles with phosphorescence… thousands of tiny sparks of light with every stroke and kick. Amazing… but waaaaaaay too warm! It must still be 20-22 degrees. At least there’s Melbourne cold water camp to look forward to and maybe a quick trip to Lake Jindabyne for a bit more cold water, then my last 8 hour swim (coincidentally on my birthday!)
As I’m getting close to the swim now its time to start tapping you, friends, neighbours, colleagues, fellow swimmers and strangers to donate to Alzheimer’s Australia: a great charity for a devastating disease that robs people of their memories, their families, their dignity, their lives…