This week we went down to Dover on the Friday to meet my mum and dad who were staying in Folkstone. We accompanied them to Dover, and dropped in to see Evelyn and David at Varne Ridge Holiday Park. We stayed there during our channel swim week, and will be staying there again for my two-way this year. The main reason was to show my mum and dad the plaques with all the channel swimmers who have stayed at Varne Ridge on the wall. The above photo was taken in front of mine, and David assures me he will be getting the surname spelt correctly when he orders the next batch of successful swimmers plaques!
Day 1 - Saturday June 07, 2008
Arriving at swimmers beach on Saturday morning, it was a dull, misty horrible morning. It was good to see Mark Robson again, having travelled all the way down from Teeside to train in the harbour. Fellow West Suffolk Swimming Club Member, Mark Ransom was also there, and we undressed and waited for our orders from The General.
"Hoffy - 7 Hours" came the orders across the beach from The General. I wasn't worried or surprised because I had been through all of this last year. I was expecting 7 hours today, and 6 tomorrow. It's when you are not expecting it that you beat yourself up mentally. If you are training in Dover, it's always best to expect the unexpected, that way you should breeze through whatever is dished out. Mark Ransom was given 5 hours, as he will be swimming in 2 weeks time. I am delighted to say that I have been asked to be his support swimmer. I am looking forward to this, and will give a report on his swim, hopefully with live blog updates via Beccy on the day.
We stepped into what was undoubtedly the shallowest Dover Harbour I have ever swum in. It was so shallow, that the first 5 minutes of the swim were taken up walking to an area to swim in. i.e. one that you didn't scrape your hand on the bottom! The water was very cold (13.4 Degrees Centigrade) but we set off on our mission to swim to the first feed, which was 6,060 Metres and 2 hours.
We then just continued to swim from feed to feed, at about 1 hour intervals, and before we knew it, we were at 5 hours, and Mark got out. The last two hours were totally different, and I just swum across the harbour in a triangle for hour 6, and Nicola Millichip took the photo below of Beccy and Barry feeding me.
The last hour was tough, as my shoulders were quite painful, and there was only 2 or three of us out there. The tide had also come in, and I was amazed that it was now above the "slopey groyne" whereas earlier, I could see the bottom of it! It was a huge tide today without a doubt. I swum a bit of a bizarre route, out to P.O.W. pier, across to the "slopey groyne" back to the P.O.W. pier, across towards swimmers beach, back towards the pier, then diagonally in to complete 7 hours! Yes! Awesomely satisfying. A 7 hour swim, covering 19,870 Metres in 13.4 degrees Centigrade water.
I went back to the guest house, showered, went for a meal with my parents in Folkstone, then returned home for a good sleep before what I assumed would be a 6 hour swim the next day.
Day 2 - Sunday June 08, 2008
Arriving at Swimmers Beach after a hearty breakfast consisting of 2 x Wheatabix, Half a pint of milk, a full fried "Sandown" breakfast of 2 x Bacon, 1 x Sausage, 2 x Fried Egg, Baked Beans, 1 x Hash Brown, 2 x Fried Tomato's, 2 x cups of coffee, a "Herbalife" Tropical Fruit Vitamin and Mineral drink in half a pint of milk, I was still a little peckish, so I downed a whole banana and sipped my half pint Maxim Electrolyte drink as we waited for instructions.
Above: Waiting for instructions on "Swimmers Beach" for Sunday's swim from The General.
As Mark Ransom and I stood there waiting, our worst nightmare happened. Both feeling very stiff and sore from the day before's swim, the last thing I expected was for two-way channel swimmer, Nick Adams, to come flying over saying "I'm swimming with you today boys". You may remember from last week's Sunday swim, that on the Sunday he made us sprint for over 4KM nearly finishing us off! Well, No! Not this week. We were not falling for that again. No way. Absolutely not! No, no, no NO! "Sorry Nick" I said. "Did 7 hours yesterday. Couldn't possibly swim at your speed today". I was astonished that he gave in so easily and said "Oh well. I'll have to swim with someone else", and off he went. "Huh! That told him" I thought. "Soon got rid of him!".
"Hoffy 6 hours" said The General. "Mark 5 hours". A little bit of stretching the shoulders out, and into the water we went. It was once again, incredibly low and 13.4 Degrees Centigrade again. Quite cold, but we just went through exactly the same routines, and procedures again, and the time flew by.
Above: Entering the harbour for 6 hours (me) and 5 hours Mark Ransom.
All went pretty much to plan with swims to the next feed, until at 4.75 hours into the swim, and just about to swim from the P.O.W. pier, back to swimmers beach, for Mark to get out, and me to get my 5 hour feed, a cerise pink hat suddenly emerged in front of our eyes.....
10 Minutes earlier on the beach...
Beccy was on the beach, standing in for Barry and Irene and instructing 6 foot 4" swimmers to not be such wimps, the water wasn't cold and get back in and swim to the P.O.W. pier and back. They duly obeyed. While standing there, out of the corner of her eye, she saw this:-
... yes a pair of cerise pink swimming trunks, with cerise pink swim hat protruding from the underside of the brief, and a nice pair of cerise pink "Crocs". Yes, it was none other than Nick "The Fish" Adams, scanning the harbour for two members of the West Suffolk Masters Open Water Synchronised Swimming Team...
"Right where are those two homos? Where's Hoffy I want to pee him off?" said Nick to Beccy. "You just want to be on his blog" said Beccy laughing. "No I don't" he replied.
Nick stepped into the water, and adjusted his heat seeking goggles, scanning the harbour like a vulture searching for his prey. Nicola Millichip witnessed this, and barley able to control her laughter took the above pictures of Nick. "Ah right there they are, I can get them from here. I'm not worried about being on the blog, I just want to cause as much misery as possible." said Nick to Beccy, as he slipped into stealth mode and sped across the harbour towards the P.O.W. pier to catch up with Mark and me.
Prince of Wales Pier
Mark and I had just decided to swim in for a feed, then it was just one more hour for me, on my own, swimming with my thoughts before coming in at 6 hours to complete a total of 13 hours in the harbour for the weekend. I was pleased with myself, but very sore in the neck and shoulders. Having seen Nick Adams get out a couple of hours earlier, the last thing I expected was to see him here at 4.75 hours into out swim.
"Right you two, you've got me for the last hour. Come on chop, chop" said Nick. "Nick, Mark is getting out, and I'm going in for a feed, and I did 7 hours yesterday, and this is my last hour! You just want to be on my blog" I laughed. "No I don't, but I'll just swim with you then". I swum into shore, Mark got out, and I wondered what on earth he was going to get me to do. I had my feed, and off we went over to the Eastern Dock, starting off slowly, then stretching out, and getting faster as we completed the 830 Metre swim to the dock. "Right, we're going to sprint across the harbour and I'm going to time you" said Nick. "But I'm knackered" I protested. "I did 7 hours yesterday, and have done 5 so far today. My arms have had it". Nick would have none of it. Off we went. I was flat out. I couldn't have gone any faster if you paid me.
The first 100 Metres weren't too bad. My arms burned, but they felt tired. At 200 Metres, still flat out, they were starting to hurt. At 300 Metres, I was hallucinating! My arms were just simply about to explode! At 400 Metres, against all my best intentions, I pulled up and said "Nick, I'm knackered. I can't go on at this pace". He looked at his watch and said "When you're in the channel, and your pilot asks you to sprint for 30 minutes, you need to be able to do it. It can knock 3 hours off your swim. Come on, just stretch out, and do your best." We swum across to the P.O.W. Pier, then headed towards the beach to complete my 6 hours.
I was smiling to myself, wondering why he kept picking on me, when I lost concentration and swam over the back of his legs. "Hoffy" he said. "You're not trying to 'Roger me' are you?" he said. I just laughed my head off to myself. He is a great swimmer, and does make me laugh, and is genuinely trying to help me achieve my goal of completing a two way channel swim. "Come on" I said. "Let's have a picture for my blog." and here they are...
Above: (Left) Hoffy, 2-Way Channel Swimmer Aspirant. (Right) Nick "The Fish" Adams - 2-Way Channel Swimmer. Respect.
It was a fantastic weekend, having achieved what The General calls a "Split Channel Swim". i.e. 13 hours over two days. Thanks to Beccy for helping with the feeding, Freda for being Freda, Mark for being a great swim companion and Nick for being Nick. It makes it all so worthwhile being surrounded by such fantastic and inspiring people.
Next week will be something different, "Champion of Champions" in Dover Harbour. I am looking forward to it, having come 5th overall last year.
Total time in the harbour this week - 13 Hours.
Total distance covered - 35,780 Metres.