Sorry, I didn’t write this as soon as I’d finished; I was out getting pretty drunk…
Session five (as far as I remember) was completely awesome. I swam for 4 miles, which was over half of what I needed to swim to finish. Brother, boyfriend and Katie came to watch, which was super nice 🙂 Mum was out watching Tom Jones at Newmarket. And drinking champagne.
I was feeling pretty awesome until the following morning, and I think this is mostly because throughout the week, I had about 24 hours to recover, but between sessions five and six, I had fourteen hours. That’s ten hours less than my body was used to and most of that time, I was asleep and not hydrating myself. Session six was pretty slow; I swam the slowest I’d swam all week, 50 minutes per mile. Maybe it was because of my body being tired, or because I was so bloody close to the end, I couldn’t believe it! I could see my spectators (Mum (hungover), brother, boyf and uncle) getting restless and was trying so hard to speed up, but my body could not do it.
Eventually, I got to length 204 and I was going to swim a celebratory butterfly lap – body said no, so I did two butterfly pulls and carried on swimming breaststroke. I finished at 12.30pm on Saturday 13th August. We had ham, egg and chips for lunch (Dad’s fav meal) and then I got pretty drunk on pear Magners cider. I don’t actually remember much of being in the pub…
So, that was it. I swam 21 miles in 15 hours 40 minutes, which is nearly 10 hours less than I thought I was going to do it in. I’m quite chuffed with myself. And my fundraising has nearly reached £6,000, which is overwhelming. I still ache – particularly my shoulders – and it’s been 4 days since my last channel session of just over 3 miles (and I did a Zumba class last night).
My advice to someone who was going to do a swimming challenge like this one? Train hard and not in drips and drabs like I was doing. I would say to give yourself near a year – I had decided I was doing this in about March time, but I don’t think that was enough time to prepare.
In terms of what this has done to help me… well, it’s helped me to believe in myself a bit more. I think a whole bunch of people didn’t think I could do this – in fact, my uncle told me he didn’t think I could do it! – and I just blew them all out of the water (excuse the pun). I wasn’t even out of breath for most of my sessions, just aching through my body – stupid shoulder injury. So I can do things that I am really dedicated to do, when I put my mind to it. It’s encouraged me to take my swimming more seriously again. Perhaps not training twice a day, seven days a week, but a few times a week – maybe even swimming three miles for one of my training sessions. I have joined Brentwood School Sports Centre with a poolside membership now, so I will inevitably go as and when I can. In a weird way, it makes me want to fundraise more, but for now I’m taking a break from physical challenges!