Wise words of Evel Knievel

 “A man can fall many times in life but he’s never a failure if he tries to get up”

Wise words from Evel Knievel… and he should know. He also said “bones heal, pain is temporary and chicks dig scars”, which is also true. From experience.

Neither of these bear much relevance to where and when I’m at right now, but as I’ve not blogged for a while I thought I should start with something inspirational.

So, what’s gone on over the last 16 months? Well, I’ve undergone a significant change in personal circumstances (if you don’t know you probably don’t need to).

Last year, I made a decision (for a few reasons) to postpone my swim to April 2017, which is about 9 months from now… probably a little less, but I’m calling it 9 months! Close enough that my training plan from Vlad can be contained on one page <gulp>.

I finally shifted the channel chunk and have actually dropped a few kilos below my pre-training weight and feel good with it. I look at photos of me pre-channel and think “WTF?”  91kg is an unhealthy weight to be and on reflection I think I probably overdid the #heroicfatness. But Molokai is warm and while I’ll need some glycogen on board I can probably shift  couple more kilos and still feel swimfit!

I went to Honolulu last November and you’ll see some photos of Sandy Beach where (hopefully) I will finish my swim, and a photo of Jeff Kozlovich (from the Kaiwi Channel Association) and I after putting the world to rights over a ber choice local IPAs and stouts; can’t wait to drink more local beers, but maybe after the swim!

Since I first told you about my swim plans in early 2015, the number of solo crossings has increased to 38 (by the end of 2015. There has been a big handful of soloists so far this year, but I still think we’ll be talking fewer than 50 solo crossings by the time I get my toes wet.

One notable recent attempt has really affected me (warning: here’s the scary bit). A Californian swimmer, named Ranie Pearce aborted her swim, deep, deep, deep into it after being circled by a 10 foot tiger shark that couldn’t be shaken by kayak or boat. In every open water swim we expose ourselves to nature and its threats; getting out of the water, deep into a swim of this magnitude is not an easy decision, but clearly was the right one. You can see drone video of the shark’s threatening activity here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyfbFBDnKYM&feature=youtu.be. I ask myself, what would I do… I think the answer is clear, but dealing with that fear throughout the swim is something I’ll have to prepare for, particularly as I will swim through dusk, night and dawn before I finish. The physical, emotional, psychological challenge of this swim is omnipresent.

On the subject of drones I’m pretty excited to announce that my buddy Andy Sibley will be coming to Hawaii (along with uber squirrel Nicki) to provide support and capture drone footage of the crossing. Andy is rapidly becoming a shit-hot drone pilot and you can see his work here: https://www.facebook.com/byronai/ I’m not sure whether he knows there are other duties involved in crewing: greasing, kayaking, cajoling, encouragement and silliness. He’ll find out!

So, back in the water, hating the cold, loving the distance, loving the pain and loving that sense of exhaustion! Pushing myself hard in the pool and I’m certainly seeing improvement in my technique (and when I look at videos of my EC swim I see how much my technique fell apart after 6-8 hours eurgh!). Coach Vlad and his encouragement of the VladSeals and Vladpoles with “smile and be happy” is a constant source of inspiration, encouraging me to seek the self-improvement that will get me across the channel.

My most enjoyable swim of late was a nighttime swim at Manly a couple of weeks ago (confession: I’m going to sound like a freak here). I spent a beautiful, clear-skied Friday evening in the company of Dean Swimmer, bioluminescence in the chilly water creating starbursts of light with each stroke and shifting constellations trailing behind our kicking legs, water so glassy and clear you could see the moonlight cast onto the ocean floor (creating ominous dark shapes of seaweed and rock). Sounds ideal, sounds magical, which it was until I swam into a smack of jimbles, and another, and another. A smack is the collective term for jellyfish (informative and entertaining) and for those of you who’ve not come across them, jimbles are a relative of the box jellyfish, and, like all cubozoans, have a box-shaped bell with tentacles at each corner. Each tentacle stings like a nettle. Every few metres I was swimming through trails of tentacles, stopping and swearing while Dean swam unaffected. It turns out I was Moses parting the red sea of jimbles and clearing a path for Dean to swim unscathed (until I got out when he got his share).

In the water, while they stung, the cold was suppressing the burn. Within 10 minutes of getting out I had painful welts across much of my body (see pictures), which the heated car seats seemed to just aggravate. Stung nipples are a strange sensation! Too much information? I writhed on my car seat all of the way home; I think I was delirious while chatting to my mum on Viber in the car and nearly 2 weeks later still have scars on my arms!

But, the joy of the sparkles in the water, the stars, the moon are what will make me smile. Times like this are why we swim. And remember, pain is temporary and chicks do dig scars!

Keep watching the waves… you’ll see me taking it one stroke at a time!

Hopefully you’ll hear more about my ongoing support of Alzheimers Australia shortly and as the weeks and months go by you’ll hear a lot more from me!