Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Taking on a new challenge deserves full respect..

It is very hard to decide the difference between anxiety, stress, excitement and fear. The insides of your body are all over the place with the jitters.  Friday night we sat at the table, joked and laughed. Ram asked “Are you girls nervous about tomorrow?”
Waiting for the temp to show..
We looked across the table at each other, a silence, a pause as we searched for a word to describe how we felt “ I don’t know” we both replied. I have no idea what I’m feeling; the hamsters in my head were certainly screaming. I knew we were well able BUT...
We were taking on a challenge which was new to us-so that deserves the respect of all emotions. It is a sign of strength to discuss your weaknesses and it is important to explain your fears. Over the previous days I had visualised the swim, down to the changing in the boat, every feeling, every movement I could see, clinching my fist, hyper extending my feet. I could not see a minute where I needed to get out of that mile. 

I can’t explain the benefits of having Ram at the kitchen table-the benefit of drinking in the experience in a vampire like fashion. Every movement, every sentence, shows an emotion that despite the pushing and the apparent moments of insanity Ram Barkai knows and repeats that the margin of error is so tiny. Our decision was to swim officially and that includes full medical operation. It is important to discuss the “unlikely event” scenarios.

Calibrating different temp guages...McGyver

In an official event, all risks have to be managed and highlighted. With our faces in the water and most of our changes happening internally we need to be alert enough to identify them-acknowledge them-deal with them. The crew can only look for changes like stroke count, movement changes, lucidity and fatigue. I’m a slow starter in all my swims, training or otherwise and at the test swim when we hit the water though it was only 6 degrees, my chest tightened and breathing became an obstacle. 

We discussed starting at our own paces, we would individual teams/boats from the Sheep Haven Sub Aqua, we have full medical pre and post event  with Dr Stewart being on the Mulroy Coast Guard boat going between swimmers to monitor us. Another challenge we have is the air temperature here is damp, cold grey skies and turbulant winds forces the mind to fight more than a blue sky and calm.
All this flowing through my mind-Ram asked if we could bring a waterproof pen and we would mark out where our veins are in the event of needing to find them-the cold makes finding the veins difficult in the event of us needing a drip. Time is integral for the teams.
Our brilliant rescue cover

Dr. Stewart is bringing a defrib. Anne Marie wandered about filling the dishwasher-It’s hard to tune out-you want to but you need to listen and understand.  This might all seem extreme but when we sign up to official swims the team who volunteer need to protected.

If you think relaxation is something that happens the night before your first immersion in low temperatures, you’re wrong. Once we move into the risk management it is no longer about the swimmer, It is all about the most effective way for the crew to try to restore the situation and life if necessary.

After our test swim at 43deg

Our crew are the most experienced divers and coast guard members, with medical & recovery training. They have worked with both Anne Marie and I before. I have seen them handle a boat on a pinhead. They would have us out of the water in a flash. I had little doubt about their capacity to keep us safe, The Mulroy Bay Coast guard were coming to observe. We would have 15 marine rescue personnel, 3 medics with 2 helpers for transportation purposes, land operations with heated jeeps all for 3 swimmers to complete a mile.
How can you fear falling when there are people there to pick you up? But we respected this swim- the margin for error is minuscule. Risk taking is not fair on the people who are willing to go that deep for us to ensure that we survive, that might sound dramatic but things can happen. Once we take those risks others have to clean up. As swimmers we need to make sure that we are up for the challenge and cover all eventualitites.  
Ram stood up and retired to bed. Anne Marie and I sat at the table, talking, not talking, and shaking our heads.
Standing beside the sink Anne Marie turned and said “The pain doesn’t bother me, I just hope my heart doesn’t stop”… That summed it up.
Tomorrow will be fun...

1 comment:

  1. Just love it - "the hamsters in your head are screaming" - I take my hat off to you all - incredible - looking forward to following your blog some more!!


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