Day 1 - Saturday August 23, 2008
This weekend was going to be a really important one. With only two weeks to go before my two-way channel swim attempt, it would be the last big training weekend before I start to taper down ready for the channel. It was also our 11th wedding anniversary.
Arriving at the beach, it was a beautiful clear sunny day and the harbour was dead flat. When Freda said "6 hours please Hoffy" to me, I replied "Can't I do 7 please?". She crossed out 6 on her pad and wrote 7 in it's place. I think I am slowly going mad! It was 9am and I said goodbye to Bex, wished her a happy anniversary, and told her I would see her at 3pm - 7 hours later. This is the fantastic thing, she is fully supportive of the swim, and without this support, it simply would not be possible.
I set off with Nick Aspey from Wigan, who was in the harbour doing his 6 hour qualifying swim. It was hist first time in Dover, and he was really excited about it. I did explain that it wasn't always as calm as it was today, but he simply had a great time, really enjoying himself until he got out at 6 hours with his swim complete. Well done Nick, great swim - the longest he has ever done in one go.
Beccy was on the beach with the usual team, and was there to feed everyone when we came in. After 7 hours, I came in pleased with myself having completed 19,260 Metres in 7 hours.
To celebrate our anniversary, I had booked a table at Cullins Yard for 7.30pm. Having been there for about an hour, I heard some South African voices behind me. I turned round, and there sitting right behind me was none other than "The Ice Bear" himself, Lewis Gordon-Pugh - the first man ever to swim for 1KM at The North Pole in -1.7 Degrees Centigrade water!
After a fantastic steak, we said goodbye to the South Africans, and headed back to our beds for the night, ready for another big swim the following day.
Day 2 - Sunday August 24, 2008 - 133 Years to the day since Captain Matthew Webb first swum the English Channel.
Above: Coming in for a feed during Sunday's swim.
What a bloody miserable day. It was horrible. When we got up, it was cold, grey skies, raining and no sign anywhere of the sun which had shone the day before. To cap it off, over by the Eastern Dock it was like swimming in a washing machine. It was horrible, so I swum with Chris Enyon from Sudbury & District swimming club "up and down the wall" where it was a bit calmer to say the least.
At about 3.75 hours, I had one of those feelings which I have experienced many times when we are fed Maxim Electrolyte rather than the full Maxim. I was sprinting with Chris, when it felt like I had just run out of fuel. I told him to continue at his pace while I swum at mine. I continued up the wall, back down again, and really struggled along the beach. I was absolutely famished. I was so hungry it hurt. I stopped and started, just making it to the beach at 4 hours and 5 minutes ready for a very welcome feed when to my astonishment Beccy stood there and said "Everyone out. Finished. You're all getting out". Apparently, for the first time in living memory, Freda had had enough, and you can't blame her. All of the beach crew, including Beccy, were absolutely soaked through to the skin. It was a truly awful day. I had however, completed 10,255 Metres.
Chatting to Beccy later, she told me that we were going to do 4 hours tomorrow so that we could all get home early in case of bad traffic. This was a shame as I had wanted to complete 7 Hours/6 Hours then 5 Hours over the weekend.
Day 3 - Bank Holiday Monday August 25, 2008
Monday was no better than Sunday. Grey, dark skies, cold wind and really miserable. At least it was only going to be a 4 hour swim and then we could be off home. "Hoffy - 6 hours." came the words from Freda's mouth. "6?" I replied. "Yes, we need to get the hours in as we only did 4 yesterday". Bloody weather! I got in and set off to swim for 6 hours.
At 4 hours I was really fed up, and for the first time for a long time I was cold, so cold that I was shivering as I swum. This was not good so near my channel swim. I think I had mentally prepared myself to swim for 4 hours, not 6 and it's amazing how your mind adapts to this way of thinking. I was a bit angry with myself, and as I came in for a feed I said "What a bloody way to spend a Bank Holiday Monday. One more hour then I'm getting out!". I had my feed then set off.
I sprinted quite hard, and soon began to warm up. Up and down the wall I was putting in some good sprints. When it came to the end of hour 5, I had snapped out of it and was looking forward to the last hour. As I arrived back at the beach, several women of varying degrees of looking stern were standing at strategic locations across the beach. Standing head and shoulders above the rest at the top of the beach (the tide was out) was The General. "What's the matter with them?" I thought to myself. Then I realised and burst out laughing. They were all stopping me getting out! "It's Ok." I said, "I'm all better now, I'm not getting out!". I had my feed and completed 6 hours 5 minutes covering 16,180 Metres.
All in all, although the weather was miserable on the Sunday and Monday, it was a very productive weekend covering a total of 45,695 Metres. Next week, I will be tapering down hopefully, weather dependant, preparing to start my two-way channel swim attempt the following weekend. After the disappointment of Jersey, let's hope this one goes ahead!
Total time in the harbour this week - 17 Hours 10 Minutes.
Total distance covered - 45,695 Metres.