Monday 24 March 2008

Sea Training in Estapona, Andalucia, Spain - Day 1, Saturday March 15, 2008

Above: The stunning view from the beach in Estapona, looking towards Gibraltar (right) and Africa (Left).

When the former Mayor of Bury St Edmunds and St. Edmundsbury, Mike Ames and his wife Monica asked us if we would like to join them for a week in Spain before Easter, the first thing I asked was "Can you swim there?". "Absolutely" he replied. "You step out of the apartment straight onto the beach". I immediately booked the flights for Friday March 14, 2008!

Looking forward to it for about 4-5 weeks before we left, I suddenly realised that it clashed with the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation (CS&PF) Annual General Meeting and Awards Dinner, which I had already booked tickets for and booked our usual room at The Sandown Guest House in Dover. Humbly I apologised to the Honorary Secretary of the CS&PF Mike Oram, and Martin & Sonia at The Sandown who said it was no problem. However, while at the World Winter Swimming Championships in February, the "King of The English Channel", Kevin Murphy, asked me if I would like to be on the committee of the CS&PF. I was delighted and honoured to be asked by Kevin and I gladly agreed. Kevin was to propose me, and Cliff Golding to second me. I set off for Spain on Friday 14th, thinking about the week ahead, and whether I would be elected to the committee or not.

Arriving is Spain at about 22:00 Hrs on the Friday evening, I couldn't wait to get in the sea the next day, and after a fantastic seafood meal with Mike and Monica, I went to bed quite unexpectedly excited about the next day.

Above: Standing on the 3KM long beach in Estapona prior to my first swim. The 3KM stretch of water was just perfect for Two-Way Channel swim training.

The water was very calm, but there was quite a strong tide pushing the water from west to east, so for the first swim, I decided to walk to the western end of the beach and swim down with the tide, after all, this was going to be my first proper sea water swim since my swim in De Panne, Belgium on December 28, 2007, and I had to get a feel of the water temperature, tide, sea conditions etc., before I went too mad. I was going for an easy swim with the tide.

Getting in, I shivered. God it felt cold. Having been swimming in Clarice House 20 Metre swimming pool at 28 Degrees Centigrade for the past few weeks, and jumping in and out of the sauna and jacuzzi, this felt cold. It took all the 'cold' thoughts I could muster to get in. I bent over, splashed my body with water, kept walking in, then dived in and started to sprint away, before settling into a gentle pace.

Beccy was walking along the beach and I settled into a great rhythm. 1-2-3 breathe right, sea. 1-2-3 breathe left, Beccy marching quite quickly, down the beach, ruck sack on her back with my clothes, camera, flip flops, towel etc., all ready for when I emerged 3KM down the beach. It felt fantastic to be in the sea again. I kept looking at the temperature gauge on my watch, which had started at 28 degrees Centigrade, but was slowly dropping. It does seem to drop very slowly, 25, 22, 20, 19.5, 18.4, 18 Degrees Centigrade is where it stopped. It certainly felt colder than that, but who was I to argue with my temperature gauge? That was the official temperature for the swim. 18 Degrees Centigrade (64.4 Degrees Fahrenheit).

Above: Settling into a good steady pace in the 18 Degrees Centigrade sea, on day 1 of our 8 day Two Way Channel swim training camp.

After 35 minutes, I stepped out of the sea, having just completed the first 3KM swim of the week. was really pleased, but my body did feel very cold. Beccy told me that due to the tide, she could barely keep up with me. That's why she had been walking so fast!

We walked back to the apartments, I showered, got warm and dressed, then sent a text to the Queen of the English Channel, Alison Streeter, who is also the Chairperson of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, to see if I had been elected to the committee. I was delighted when she text me back saying that I had been elected.

What a perfect day, a good 3KM swim @ 18 Degrees Centigrade, and elected to the CS&PF Committee. I couldn't wait for day 2 to come to get in the sea for the next swim...


Anonymous said...

Hi Hoffy

Good to have you back. I was wondering what had happened to you! Looks like you had a great weeks training - i'm looking forward to hearing about the rest of your week.


Hoffy Swims said...

Hi Chris

Yes, I had a computer free week! Spain was awsome, and I would recommend it to all potential channel swim aspirants. You could spend all day doing 3KM swims up and down the beach. It was great. Will update the next 7 blogs when I get a mo!

Speak soon.

Kind regards.


Picklesmum said...

Was it one of the Bury cranes growing out of the top of your head or a foreign one you were visiting?!
Looks warmer than it's been round here lately!

Hoffy Swims said...

PM - LOL! - Yes, I decided to take one with me as a hat just in case I missed them while I was away! I had a great time, and the weather was good execpt for two days. I will let you know more during blogs on days 2 through 8...

Kind regards.