Stop the epic Final Countdown music, I didn’t go swimming this weekend. I have actually only swum for a grand total of 1 hour this entire week. No need to panic, I’m fine. I’ve just been going very hard on the tapering and donuts aspects of the training plan. Today was my first lie-in since April.
On Saturday I was needed at my work’s open day in London, and I played an orchestra gig in the evening. I did try to get down to Dover today but couldn’t find a lift and okay I didn’t try extremely hard but I did ask around on Facebook. It took me a few days to recover from last weekend’s 6/7 epic, and the long queues to London’s lidos means I’ve been doing a different sort of swim preparation this week – chadmin.
You’d think that all you’d need to swim the channel is a pair of goggles and your Speedo’s but you should see the size of my spreadsheet. Everything from Vaseline and Extra Vaseline (because what if one Vaseline slips out of your greasy grip into the sea just as you go to apply it to The Crucial Areas? See you in Chafesville, my unfortunate friend) to a 12+ course tasting menu of treats.
I’d been looking forward to the channel snack shopping trip but in all honesty I found it intensely stressful. These are the items which will be responsible for picking me up when I’m down and keeping me going when I’m tired, but nothing was jumping out at me in the Sainsbury’s small cake section today. What if I can’t keep down solids? What will I feel like eating after over 10 hours of swimming? These are unchartered snack territories, so all I can do is guess and buy 5 mini Battenberg cakes. If anyone wants to donate a surprise treat accompanied by a motivational message, that would be very gratefully received.
I’m accumulating my channel kit in a box in my garage like some sort of nuclear apocalypse conspiracy theorist. If someone were to break in to find a crate full of cable ties, tubs of vaseline, a variety of tiny cakes, a dog lead and a head torch, I daresay they might go off the idea of seeing what’s in the rest of the house.
I’ve also been preparing a set of notes and instructions for my crew. Everything from what to bring to how the feeds will work. I have a wonderful crew made up of channel swimmer Sally, aspiring channel swimmers Chris and Ashleigh, and Emma, who successfully kayaked and cajoled me across Lake Zurich and Lake Windermere, FBCs and all. I can tell them the easy things – please don’t look like you’re having too much fun on the boat without me! – but then there’s the other stuff which remains unwritten. These are the people who I trust to see me at my best and at my worst and to know what to say and do no matter what hits us. But most importantly they’ve told me they don’t get seasick.
Next week I’ve been asked to give an inspirational talk at my old school for their prize giving evening. This is somewhat embarrassing, because as somebody who has had ice cream for dinner at least once this week, I’m really not the person to be taking life advice from. Regular blog readers will know me well enough to know that I haven’t finished writing the talk yet, but the working theme I’m going with is fear.
I’m scared to swim in the dark, I’m scared of the jellyfish, I’m scared of getting seasick. But my biggest fear is of failure. I’ve chosen to make this swim public and the support has been immense, but the other side of that is that there will be a lot of people watching the outcome. I’ve spent most of my measly millennial savings on the swim fees and the training camps/weekends, so I can’t afford a second attempt in more ways than one.
But being scared isn’t a good enough reason not to do something. All you can do is choose your crew carefully, train as hard as you can, hoard enough treats to feed a world cup football team, and dive in making the noises of a cow giving birth.