Sunday, May 6, 2012

While you're swimming -Where do WE go to? -JC Malick's Farallones swim from the SW Ireland....

Very frustrated sea in the Blasket Sound-my little head was not happy..
But you look up and you see the crew on alert-
They'd have me out in a flash
 So many thoughts have been running through my head this week, I get stuck about how hard it is while another swimmer is in. This week a friend and fellow cold water swimmer Jason Malick took to the low temperatures of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge. Fresh from the valiant swim of Joseph Locke a few weeks back my mind embraced the Farallones.  I chatted with JC and since then my stomach was a bit dizzy. My mind was adrift with the thoughts of the crews lost at the recent yacht race, though I have never been there I have been in a frustrated sea, where you can't take your eyes off the next wallop, where nature can be calm and then have the biggest hissy fit and rant.

That morning I woke to a feeling of uncertainty, a moment when you wish the swim over. I hate those days when we're not on the boat. It's hard to be a "Stay at home swimmer!!"
I had them when Anne Marie went back again and again to the North Channel, when at 2am the text came that she was rescued, then when she was hospitalised after 5 hours of swimming through stings, knowing she had to go back, the delighted crew that they had learned so much but wondering how much more there was? We did not have the joy of Twitter or FB, places where there was little coverage. Lying in bed, sleep is not an option just waiting and willing her across.A map calculating as if I knew where she was.

The Madness of King George.. 
Getting the text and crying with relief that it was over and everyone was safe. That is the only requirement. The seas will be there forever. Swims will forever wait. As the years pass and even though we are not best friends with other swimmers we feel their journeys. We try hard to downgrade the challenges to others so we can break them down for ourselves but inside we know too much. There are possible negative outcomes..

Most swims I 'will' people through, I watch and pay attention, and report and enjoy and then there are the other swims. I am on red alert. The moment that Jason was in the water, I was a bit skittish. Andrew was posting and I found myself saying "Andrew better not do any sit ups now!" as if from here there is anything I can do, there are no words but you want to scream "don't take your eyes off his pupils" .. You want to be on the boat and will him forward, not just to crew but to supply that Oxygen that somehow helps.
There is no doubt that JC is surrounded by a supreme crew, when the decision was made by the sea, that today there would not be any heroes, Andrew dropped in and the day was done. For the short of 5 hrs that Jason swam I was hopping about, couldn't relax-This was not about completing the distance it was about knowing when it was done. It's a really strange feeling, willing the safety and the good outcome of people we don't know but that's what makes what we do special. There is such respect for each other.
Even though we are separated by thousands of miles of oceans, the adverser is the same. The challenge is the same, the need to survive is greater than the need for glory. We are our own greatest fans.
The sought after jackets... !!

I was on the phone to Anne Marie when I spotted Jason was out. I was delighted (he was safe). It was over for today. It baffles me when some say "what stopped you? " "Did you not make it?" as if it was a choice. The decisions are made and we just listen. The benefit of an amazing crew is that they hear and they see. But for some swimmers we sit at home and even though we are not on the boats it is just as exhausting. So when you swim this is where we go to...

Certain swims bring me to places that I have been before and I'm sure that's the same for many and what makes our world special.
Be safe out there and remember just 'cos we're not on your boat does not mean we are not with you..

San Francisco Bay will wait for another day but for now it rolls on.. the challenge the watching the waiting the knowing it's possible-We're so lucky to have so many adventurers in our midst so that as swimmers we can close our eyes and live vicariously through the strokes of others-all because we share the same goal.. to get there.. where ever there is... For now I must recover from the Farallones.. !!! 

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