Saturday, 28 March 2009

40km and 3rd for the Budgy Smugglers

The last two weeks have been all about the ocean swimming. The temperature has dropped down to 18 degrees (still very pleasant for swimming) and I have enjoyed doing laps of Brighton Marina - a 2.5km circuit. It has been fairly heavily frequented by jelly fish which adds to the obstacles along with all the fishing lines that I manage to snag with uncanny regularity. I like to think the fisherman are thinking 'Wow look at that guy fearlessly tearing through the open water', but I suspect the reality is more likely 'What is this twat doing swimming through our bloody fishing lines'.

Along with the club sessions and my own pool sets I have hit 40km this week - a weekly best so far. The culmination was the re-swim of the 1.2km bay race this morning. As with 2 weeks ago I rocked up early to get some extra kms in and had foregone the wetsuit in favour of the pink speedos. I was meeting Kevin, another channel swimmer there, however when he saw me I could tell he was in two minds whether or not to acknowledge me in my garish trunks. A small child did point and laugh at one stage, I suspect the rest just thought 'What is this twat doing swimming in those revolting dick togs'. Kevin and I swam the course backwards to the start and then I stood shivering on the beach while awaiting a significantly delayed start. Goose pimples, pink speedos and significant muscle tremors - what an inspiring sight!

The race was good fun though and I shot off just behind a pack of 3 wetsuited swimmers, after 500m I had hauled in one of them but the 2 leaders got out to a 30sec lead and that's where I finished. I suppose in a wetsuit I probably would have been 45s to a minute quicker over the distance but at the end of the day a 3rd place and a fun race will do. Another sign of the improved fitness was the comfort level and recovery at the end of the race. I was tempted to get back in and swim back again but work called and the pink smugglers had had more than enough exposure.

Two more weeks in Melbourne and I am looking forward to building the work load. It is just such a fantastic place to train. Pool swimming back in England is not going to be anywhere near as inspiring when I return. I do have the English open water swimming season to look forward to; Dover training starts at the beginning of May and the Cirencester lakes will be open for swimming. Somehow it doesn't quite have the same appeal like the bay and reef swimming in Melbourne. Time for the famous Aussie saying - 'Have a can of toughen up princess', seems appropriate for those that swim in pink bathers.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Hot pink speedos and a race that wasn't

Slowly getting over the jet lag but I'm enjoying being back in Melbourne. It's been a busy week, what with fitting in swim sessions, work and catching up on lost sleep. The highlight of the week was joining in with the 'icebergers' at Black Rock on Saturday morning. These are a group of seriously experienced open water swimmers with half a dozen or more Channel swimmers among them. I turned up at the beach at 8am ready for a good ocean swim and met Alby Bardoel and the gang. We headed down to the beach and as we prepared to hit the water I revealed my latest swimming purchase - a pair of fluro pink budgy smugglers. Possibly not the most conservative swim wear I possess. Alby politely pointed out that we were on a stretch of beach famous for it's male activity and I might attract more attention than I had anticipated. Nearly 2 hours later I exited the warm (19 degrees) water into a tropical downpour to find my towel and clothes now as damp as my speedos. Over breakfast I was advised that I needed to put on about 10kgs of weight if I hope to stave off hypothermia in the channel. This is a daunting prospect as so far this year I have managed to gain a total of minus 0.5kg.
Sunday morning was the Bonbeach 1.2km ocean race. I had been looking forward to this, the last race of the Melbourne open water calender. I arrived in good time to see the wind had whipped up the normally placed bay water into a sizeable white tipped swell. Excited by the prospect of a challenging sea swim I was rapidly deflated to learn that the life guards had cancelled the swim on safety grounds. I packed my pink smugglers away and slopped off to the pool for a steady 4.5km workout. The race has been rescheduled for 2 weeks so I may yet get a chance to race against the wetsuits. The prospect of beating as many wetsuitted swimmers as possible in a pair of fluoro pink budgy smugglers is quite an appealing one, even if I do risk being 'outed' in public. Also if I am going to prance around in a pair of eye-catching dick togs I might as well do it now while I am relatively trim and not when I have an extra 10kgs of lard folded over the top of them.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

"Never save anything for the swim back"

Seems an appropriate motto for a cross channel swim, not so appropriate if I was doing a two way crossing but fortunately I'm not. The quote comes from the movie Gattaca, two brothers swim out to sea against each other, the winner is the one who doesn't turn back first. When the stronger brother asks his weaker brother how he is managing to keep going he answers, "I never saved anything for the swim back". It is a favourite quote and motivating tool when I am pounding the laps. Another 8.5km this morning, this time I arrived a bit earlier so avoided being ejected from the pool. Two random swimmers asked me if I was swimming the channel, I've only mentioned it to one person at the local pool so either I'm giving off some strange vibe or word has got around. Of course it could have been the goose fat that I had laddled onto my torso this morning. Actually at 30 degrees no extra insulation is needed. A little scary to consider that the channel is likely to be approximately half that temperature.
This month my ocean swimming starts in earnest. Alright it is in Australia and at the tail end of summer so I'm not pushing the boat right out, but it will still be 10 degrees cooler than the indoor pool swimming in the UK. By the time I get back the open water swimming will be starting over here so that's when it gets really serious (cold).
Incidently I finished the kitchen tiling last weekend (see previous posts). Turns out I might think I'm a serious athlete but that doesn't get me out of the DIY chores. Apparently you have to have been a dedicated athlete before marriage for that excuse to carry any weight. Someone should write these rules down.