Well today is the first day of my tide and guess what?........ I am not swimming, it is too windy! It doesn't look too good for the next two days either. This is where you begin to fully understand the nature of the beast. I am praying for good weather as I only have five days in which to attempt the swim and at the moment it is looking like three days are out.
The good news is that I have been here a week and have had some refreshing dips in the Harbour. It is a chilly 15-16 degrees C (colder than I had anticipated and colder than my English Channel Crossing).
So we arrived Saturday evening last week. The ferry journey was pretty nerve racking as at first the Strait seemed swimmable and then by half way across the wind had really picked up and I was looking at white caps all around, I could see North Island but only the top as the mountain peaks poked out above the cloud line! Grey and overcast with grey sea was beginning to make me doubt whether this swim will be enjoyable at all. We reached North Island and drove into Wellington and looked at what the sea was doing in the harbour at Oriental Bay (where I train), it was a washing machine(very choppy)! I went to bed a little unsettled.
Sunday morning I went in for an hours dip, we both swam out to the light house (1.2km from shore) but was asked to head back probably 200m from it as the sea had picked up greatly even though it had been flat calm when we had started 20 mins ago! We surfed our way back and enjoyed the cold fresh water shower and then warmed up with a hot chocolate. The water was fine once I was in it and moving but it has to be said that it does feel cold getting in and I probably look like the biggest wimp on the beach, making stupid gasping noises as the water hits my midriff and I resist putting my hands in the water until the final moment when I push off and feel the water envelope my back! Brrrr! then off I go!
Later that morning I met up with Philip Rush, he is the man organising and running the swim. He is also a pretty awesome swimmer, he holds the 3 way English Channel record, it took him 28 hours! He also has the 2 way speed record for the Cook Strait among many other records and swims. He is a really lovely man, who has made the swim seem achievable to me. Whilst talking the tides and wind patterns through, I can see how they know when to call the swim off if they hae to mid way across as they are so complex but if you miss certain points along the way you can nearly be to the otherside but the way in which the tide and wind interacts, you can then end up being pushed back into the middle of the Strait!
He knows that I am not a fast swimmer and we have both agreed that I am looking at an 11 hour swim, he said that all he wants from me is consistency, fortunately this is my strength! No matter how hard or unhard I try my times always remain the same ( I have often wondered what it would be like to feel a sudden spurt of speed, but i'm fine as I am!). With this Philip is going to work the tides around my pace and hopefully it will all go to plan.
I am having up and down moments as some days i feel good, confident and ready to do business with the Strait yet other days my head is in a different place where it is hard to get excited about it and it seems daunting. I think this is due to the fact that I am now in Limbo and I am also on holiday, whilst waiting for the swim I am off sightseeing and doing stuff that is a bit of a double life to prepping up for a big swim. The other factor is that this swim has been really hard to train for as for the Channel I was doing 7 and 6 hour swims both saturday and sunday as a lead up for a good 6 weeks before the swim. Being Winter in England hasn't allowed for this level of training. It does help that Philip seems very positive towards my swim though and after discussing the previous point, he has pointed out to me that the fact that I have done other long swims is a great part of preparation as menatlly I know what to expect as well as physically.
Monday I did a 3 hour swim, I swam from Belena bay, round to Freyberg beach, out to the lighthouse and back then back to Belena Bay. It was a lovely swim and the good news is that I was fine with the temperature. On the last 300m the sea had really picked up and I was getting bashed up by head on waves, some of them covering me entirely and others slamming and breaking across my head, it was good fun until I realised I was being carried out towards the middle of the harbour! I then put a fair bit of energy into swimming back to shore, i bumped my way over and then finished. I then furthered my acclimatistion with a cold shower, standing shivering washing my hair! I think this cold shower after a swim is going to harden me up into an Iron woman but not the running, cycling kind, just the 'well ard' type!
Tuesday I swam for 1 hour and admired the billions of star fish on the sea bed of Oriental Bay. I was feeling a bit tired but that could have something to do with Aidan ad I going mountain biking that morning, it was good but who ever invented hills? In fact the down hills are fine but the up hills are all wrong! I was also miss daisy on the bike as i was so afraid of falling off and breaking something, i feel if that happened I would have to either not come home or swim in the cast!
Wednesday and Thursday I took off, the weather was bad and so we both went sight seeing to the museums as they are free and very good. Dad arrived which was great and I was able to obtain my stash of jelly babies and Cadbury's mini rolls for the swim.
Friday was another 1 hour swim with Aidan to the light house and back.
Saturday I had off and then this morning I did a 1 hour pool session. At first I was devasted by my times as 100m was taking me around 20 secs more than normal! My 16 length warm up took 5 mins more. I was getting pretty glum but then I asked the lifeguard how long the pool was-Hurrah it is 33.3m!!!!! My times were fine!
So there you have it for now.
My head today is feeling positive, I have even had a chance to sunbathe a bit today on the beach-how novel and dad and I have had a leisurely stroll through the botanical gardens as Aidan went out mountain biking today! Now I am waiting for the swim yes or no phone call at 7:30 tonight (after the final weather forecast).
If It is yes I will probably be getting on the boat at 4am! ( however at mo wed could be the earliest). We will see though.
If you hear nothing from me, take it that I'm not swimming yet! Please do some calm weather dances for me and keep fingers crossed!