Saturday, January 7, 2012

‎"If you deliberately plan to be less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you'll be deeply unhappy for the rest of your life" Abraham Maslow

Briefing begins
Sitting at the table having a cup of tea before we left was filled with silence, a silence filled with emotion. There was little excitement. Somehow this was one of the more challenging swims that I had undertaken from no other point but the fact that the core of this swim will be my personal strength.
My inner ability to focus and drive into that other place, all the swim training in the world out the window if I couldn’t control the cold. That, I think is what was scaring me. I have not been in a pool in years so we depend on the sea to train, this time of year it is sporadic. Was it enough? I usually ease my way into swims-this was bam bam bam-30 minutes would be our shortest swim by a mile, if you pardon the pun.  
Sheephaven Sub Aqua -our rescue unit

The briefing with the Sheep Haven Sub Aqua club was quite stark-Ram listed the personal challenges and the physical expectations. Several of those resulted in major negative outcomes.
Marking out the veins on our arms incase the need for IV-the veins disappear in the cold and to be honest-this was no longer about the swimmer-you wanted those guys to get to you and get you out in a flash.
Watching the Ice Swim video was excellent as it showed the expected response, so they would not worry. An experienced crew is amazing.
Faces of the rescue crew stood absorbing, I sat back into my mind and knew all I had to do was to keep swimming. Keep moving-Pain was somewhere I had been before-for me I have learned to go to places in my mind, moments where I felt the world was impossible, moments that are now so insignificant as I got through. I remember crying into my goggles-wondering when the swim would be over, looking up and the guys asking "do you want to get out?"-No had to be the answer, so I sniffled a little, stopped whining and crawled onward. Those tears now are still real but they have a much greater place in my heart than any win.

Focus is..

Delighted to get to the pier, we met with Dr Stewart, still rooting in the boot I had pulse ox monitor on my finger, temp gauge in my ear. We discussed the results with the doctor. My Pulse Oxygen was 99%-that was excellent. I was dead chuffed. My heart rate on the pier was 111-standing there waiting. That is before I raised an arm to take a stroke. I dropped my eyes and focused on breathing into my belly. It is so difficult to relax the heart. At least it validated the tightness I was feeling.
We needed to get underway. Noel arrived by road, to set up the boats. Anne Marie was with John Joe and Noel Brennan and crew. Ram was with Timmy Boyle, Anne and Hugo and I was with David Mc Gloin.
“Is that ok?” Noel asked.. My heart rate leapt faster. That was brilliant. David is my Calvin Klein moment from the Round Ireland Swim, I hope he won’t mind my saying.  I looked up from the sea and David was driving the boat in a pair of Calvin Kleins after a little swim! Needless to say I nearly drowned..

During Round Ireland Swim in '06
w David Mc Gloin.. pure hardship!!
 I remember so vividly a swim I had off the Stags, West Cork coast, I was so so tired, my arms so sore and I remember the boats were on the perimeter of safety with the weather. David was bearing down on me, inches from my head with the most amazing boat skills. That sense of safety is something that is priceless.
Loading up the boats, this was all a deja vu, for us-the same crews, the same gear, the same green bags, the same faces that propelled our arms around Ireland-830 miles. So wierd saying to the Beulah "we'll be back in an hour"!
Anne Marie & I will never line up with starters and race, we are as happy plodding along the alternative route and having fun along the way.
As happy as could be we convoyed to the North water, Mulroy Bay-my head just shot into swimming mode. 15 minutes steaming to location and the wind lifted from the South West. Seeing the flotilla was such a buzz.
Getting the boats ready

Once at the location, I created my visual reference, a pink house above the buoy that was our mile mark. I couldn’t believe how near it was. I just switched over to methodical. I could see my arms and I reeled in the pink house.
“You’re in first; Noel said you need a moment to steady” David said. We need to keep the boat on your blind side with our engine. I looked forward and back and picked up all I needed to see.
A huge sigh of weight left my body as I pulled off my immersion suit. Noel had thought of everything.
Down to my togs I could feel the wind blowing but it meant nothing. I was delighted that my mind was switched over. All I have to do is to get to that pink house.. Closing my eyes, sitting on the tubing I turned and lifted my body into the waters of North Water. This was it-we knew it would not be 5deg but happy with 6deg we were off at least.

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