Wednesday, 13 August 2014

9 Hours 56 Minutes 27 Seconds

Ok so it’s nearly a week now since the North Channel was swum - this is a short wrap up of how the day, weather and ocean treated me and the emotional rollercoaster afterwards.

VIDEO WRAP-UP

The Build Up - At first it was all systems go for Monday 4th August and I was running around like a headless chicken on Sunday night trying to get organised and sorted for a 1am start. At about 8pm though the boat man, Brian Maherg (@bangorboats), called it off due to newly forecasted gale force winds - that was that and I was to be contacted that Wednesday / Thursday to see if we might go ahead. As it got closer to Wednesday Brian contacted me again and gave the go ahead and for Thursday, with a reasonable swim start in Donaghadee at 7am. So this was it - all the training and preparation for 6 good months and now IT WAS ON! 
Ready to Rock - in Bangor!
Game Day - It all started at 3:30am with a big bowl of porridge, followed by a small bit of pasta which didn’t sit well. On the road with the team was AWESOME, Bridgeen (mummy bear), Alex (forever patient partner), Padraig (Brother + Mr “i’ve done this before”) and lastly, legend Keith Garry (training buddy and agony aunt) - ALL SYSTEMS WERE GO!!

Going up the road to Bangor (where we would meet the boat pilots) was nerve racking but the morning was spectacular - I couldn’t of hoped for anything more and the sunrise was epic. We unloaded the car, talked more sh%te and waited on the boat men to arrive. At 6 bells Brain Meharg (pilot) pulled up in Bangor with his co-pilot Mervin and we all bowl’d into the boat, our nerves clean wreaked. From here we drove to the starting point...Robbies Point in Donaghadee.
Crew - "We've got your back!"
On our journey over everyone thankfully kept their distance and I had a wee bit of time (shitting myself) to give myself one last prep talk (as if i hadn’t got enough time on my own in the preceeding 10 hours ffs). When Brian shouted there was 10mins to start my heart dropped - mummy began to grease me up with vasoline – “lash it all on” says I, and showed mummy that it had to be put over the scars on my knees as the cold just zaps everything out of them (2 x knee reconstructions will do that to you).
On my two arms in massive writing I had Alex write THANK (on right arm) and YOU (on left arm) - my biggest motivation tool being ‘GRATITUDE’ - for the ability to even dream about doing something like this and having the support, health and means - and being thankful not only for what was happening on that day, but also everything that has ever happened to me (good and bad) or will happen in the future. 

"JUMP IN, SWIM TO IRISH LAND AND WE WILL BLOW THE HORN OF THE BOAT!" – said Brian the boatman – and from there, everything was moving in slow motion and my heart was going to bust with the pounding. I jumped into the water and “WOW”; there was a mixture of panic and relief – this is actually HAPPENING today and “FOOK” that’s cold!! I swum over to the Donaghadee shore to touch Irish land and before I knew it, with no time to fix my costume or pull it out of my ar&h, the horn went and....I WAS OFF!
No big panic, I tried to approach it nice and easy, find my rhythm – it was good water and weather conditions....all I had to do was swim. I had great trust in my crew that they had it all to get me to Scotland and I had the easy job... just swim!

Within the first hour there were 3 dolphins! (although they didn’t hang out for long and were just being nosy). I was feeding every 40mins after the 1st hour. The 1st hour flew by - everything was ace, I was in a great head space and the body was feeling good. I found myself going a nice comfortable pace, around Keith and my training pace of 1:30 – 1:31 per 100m.
 

The longest I had swum before the day was 8 hours in Brighton le Sands with VLAD swim squad in Melbourne, so anything after that who knew what my body would do!? I was aiming for 10hrs-13hrs (max, please god!) so I didn’t want to go out too crazy but tried to keep it nice and steady.
 
So I was ticking along, with good feeds between 30 sec to 1 minute, with very positive BUZZ words coming from my crew on a small white board. We were really moving and making nice progress and BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM ..3.5-4 hours into the swim the sh*t hit the fan! It began to get rough and believe it or not, kept getting gradually worse as we progressed. Mentally draining YES, but this wasn’t going to phase me - mother nature was my friend and many different scenarios were going through my head, like playing a computer game (super Mario Brothers specifically) - every time I achieved the next level i.e. my next feed, the level would get harder and harder. Believe me, i had used a couple of lives by the end of the journey too!

It got to a stage when I said “bring it on..!” and found a nice place in my head and felt the body was on autopilot - I was picking herbs and watering flowers; I even put a wash on and hung a wash out to dry, and had a cup of tea with Alex and mummy! That might all sound completely psychotic, but that’s the best way I can explain it! The inspirational words, names of close friends and family members - were being put up on the whiteboard to help keep me going, and then I could see Scotland (between 5m swell and massive DELICIOUS glops of salty water *vom, as the bow of the boat and large waves coming from the right hand side kept generously pounding me).

The conditions deteriorated to a nasty 5m swell with gale force winds causing us to swim a 40km route, rather than most direct route of 35km, in a time of 9hours 56mins 27sec, stroke for stroke the last km was EVERLASTING. Eventually a note went up on the whiteboard that the overall course record was GONE and I was to relax and enjoy the end of my swim. So THAT WAS IT - I didn’t go in with the intention to break the record of 9hours 35mins, but had explained to my crew that if I was near it come the last couple of hours, please let me know and try and push me if I had anything left to give. The encouragement was wonderful but I left everything I had in the water and mother nature got the better of me - being 1km offshore with tides, waves and winds being reluctant to let me “land on the moon” (otherwise known as Scotland) was tough. But hey, that’s why this ocean is said to be the SWEETEST one to conquer - the unpredictable elements and how mother nature makes you feel so insignificant.

So I plugged along and eventually one foot found sand – I gave a great yelp as if I was starring in the final scene of brave heart AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! - while having my arms up facing god and saying THANK YOU!

"Thank You!" - Port Patrick, Scotland


Time Check!
Brian and Padraig where on the dinghy waiting to take me back to the main boat, but I wanted to find a few wee stones for my crew to thank them first. I could only find wee shells, but down the back of the cosy they went and I went back into the water to get my lift home. Padraig pulled me up into the boat, tears where shared, and I proclaimed loudly “Well THAT was HARD!” And I do admit it was the hardest challenge i’ve done to date, and I feel proud and privileged that this infamous body of water allowed me to cross it – I hope I have earned a bit of respect from it, because it sure has earned it from me!
Don't worry - we saved the Moet!

What next?? Who knows... but for now, my beautiful talented partner and myself are taking on Europe with our shoestrings and i’m sure there will be a few stories evolving from that!
THANK YOU to everyone who sent messages of support on social media etc etc – it was really overwhelming and it meant the world to me.

Summing it Up - All in all - Dreams do come true when you give it your all – thank you everyone who helped, supported, inspired, listened, loved and believed in me on my journey to conquer the Channel - you are every bit a part of my success and I will be forever grateful.
- Colleen


Friday, 25 July 2014

Clowning About In County Cork!!

So I’m sure you have forgotten about me and glad I have not updated this blog – but I’M BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hehehehe!!! A lot has happened since the last update, many many kilometres have been swum, and great times have been had - so here is a brief recap and insight into what’s to come. 

I have been training hard with Keith Garry - all credit to him, he is very focused and I think some of it has rubbed off! We have clocked some very decent weeks, mostly in Camlough Lake (where the heart lies), Carlingford Lough, Giles Quay and Donaghadee (starting point of the North Channel swim) - all equally beautiful in their own right. Home has been great, catching up with family, getting to know all the nieces and nephews, and being persuaded to babysit a little too often, palming off the hard work to my partner Alex BAHAHAHA (sorry). But it’s magical to say the least and it has reinforced how important and amazing family really is. Anyways enough emotional talk…

Now for the more serious stuff like swimming…When I first went to the cold water up north a couple of weeks ago I had a bit of a meltdown and was completely beaten, as I had never imagined what 11 degree waters actually felt like. But now I am stronger and have acclimatised BOOOOOOOOM! I feel like I’m in a great space and ready to rock!
I recently attended a Distance Swim Camp in county Cork and it was AWESOME – swum 101kms in 9 days, so it was very hard on the body and mind! It was run by locals of Sandycove, but the main man himself was Ned Dension, a wonderful character full of enthusiasm and shear passion for the open water. What a great privilege it was beating his ass on numerous occasions (but I’m not going to mention he is 50 odd and still storming on - fair play!). He amongst many others made this camp unique and every single swim was all guns blazing, but I have to give out special mentions to Keith Garry (we swum the majority of the camp together and really helped each other on…he gets in there, gets the job done and that’s it - no sh*t!) and also Ann-Marie Mullally, our local host extraordinaire and just an amazing person.
Keith and I

Camp Overview for anyone interested 
(hint for speed readers - days 4, 5 and 8 were not to be missed!):

Day 1 - AM was in Sandycove (which I missed to catch up with my aunty and cousins that I haven’t seen in years) followed by the Lee race in Cork City (2km) – a swim right through the heart of the city under pedestrian bridges and all! (and it was a wee bit dirty). I was pipped at the post for first place by 7 secs, so it was a good competitive swim and loads of fun!
Keith, Oonagh, Alex, Me and Mummy post LeeSwim, Cork

Day 2 – laps around Sandycove which is SO beautiful - the local people were very welcoming and so  proud of their island; we covered 6.5km (being enough considering we had a 8km race in Lough Allua that evening). When we got to Lough Allua, we all knew there was a horrific week of mileage ahead, but once the race started and I got involved there was no holding back! We have a race on our hands! 4 of us, Keith Garry, Sabrina Wiedmer  (recently crossed the north channel and would have to still be recovering GOSH this girl can swim),  and a local legend Trevor - all 4 of us powering along stroke for stroke. I have never experienced a full on battle for an 8km swim like this before, great fun and sport by all. I was lucky enough to just sneak home with first place and we all had a lovely feed at the local pub before heading home.
Sandy Cove Island

Day 3 – 5AM swim in Fountains town, and as we were travelling in a campervan we decided to park there the night before (anything for an extra few minutes in bed!). But this obviously was the spot for the night kiss…as there was lots of characters floating around for a bit of passion BAHAHAH, anyways up early for a good 4.5km swim and the water was very cold and rough coming back. The PM swim was back to the local grounds of Sandycove to cover a steady 4 laps (6.5km).

Day 4 – My arms were starting to feel the 8km race and screaming ‘WHAT THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU DOING, AND YOU HAVE PAID FOT THIS YOU FOOL’ anyways no pain no gain, so get on with it. AM we travelled to Blackwater in Fermoy – there were a few fresh faces and the tempo was lifted. I knew there was 5 LOOOONG days left and I couldn’t get too cocky, so was just happy to hang out and cover the mileage - 7.5km.
 
Lough Hyne Rapids- Go Mummy!
PM swim, the one I was MOST looking forward to – Lough Hyne. A magical place that feels like the end of the earth and completely untouched. It is a protected marine site with all sorts of interesting sea creatures found nowhere else in the world (something about the mix of salt and freshwater, as the lake has an outlet to the sea). There were natural rapids at the outlet that were absolutely unreal – you’d jump in at the top and they’d whoosh you down into the lake! Swimming against them you felt completely powerless. My mummy nearly had a heart attack jumping into them! We hit 4km in all and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face because the it was such good fun!


Lough Hyne Rapids!
Day 5 – bearing in mind we have 4 days left and I’m falling apart…we were back to Sandycove to turn out 6.5km in the AM - I felt the water particularly cold and was blaming it on me being tired and feeling sore in every fibre and joint in my body – but once we got out some locals had recorded 11.7oC in some areas, this made me very happy.
Jellyfish!!

PM swim was from the Speckled Door pub to Sandycove; not a massive distance but pretty open ocean along beautiful cliffs. I found this swim very very tough; my body was really imploding and sore, and I talked myself into the swim, out of the swim and then was sick listening to myself! Still clocking 1:31 for 100m pace but came out grumpy and wasn’t enjoying it, so I skipped out on the next AM session as my body was screaming for it.
Day 6 – AM enjoyed a bit of a sleep in (from an unreal seafood meal with mum and alex and a few sneaky drinks to break the week up). PM swim blew my socks completely off! Had no expectations as had never heard of the Copper Coast Co. Waterford, but it was MAGICAL and definitely in my top open water swims of all time. Thanks to Donal Buckley @loneswimmer for sharing his special discoveries and being so excited to do so. Ohh yea what made it so special….was swimming out to islands in the ocean, through rock caves and caverns with turquoise water - couldn’t believe I was in Ireland doing this swim!

County Waterford

Day 7 – AM swim was in Garryvoe to Ballycotton lighthouse – as Ned said ‘just swim over to the lighthouse’, dead on says I - it not looking so far away…. So I got in, and was swimming and swimming and SWIMMING and SWIMMMMMMMMMMMMING ahk FFS where the hell is this lighthouse!?!? Yes it is right in front of me, but I was swimming and getting no closer! This was the most mentally tough swim of the whole camp for me, and I personally felt it harder than the ‘torture swim’ (will elaborate later) and also the 6 hrs, because there was no talk and I had no expectations and was not prepared for it. It got me good and I genuinely was going to give up and get in the boat…but I was so proud of myself for just gritting my teeth and doing it – all in all it was a GREAT training session!

Day 8 – the Torture Swim…SHHHHHHHHHHHHH this was awesome and such  great idea, thank you Ned and all the torturers. I’m not allowed to say anything for future camp attendees, but let’s just say the aim is total body and mind confusion, whilst also covering a dirty 13.5mk swim, with the 6 hours HAUNTING me the next day.. did I mention I was staying in a campervan and my back was broke?! – ahh… the Irish loves a good ole complaint.

Day 9 – Target: 6 hours in the water around Sandycove Island – had great practise doing my feeding (taking energy drinks at 50min intervals because of the size of the island) and it worked a treat. Alex that will be feeding me in the North Channel was awesome, positive and pretty much born to do that job – BAHAHAHHA thank you so much! And thanks to Oonagh for her help too. But I was extremely happy with this swim, my last big hit out before the big day, covering just over 23km and speeding up after 4 ½ - 5 ½ hours to get in my fastest laps (pain killers are bloody awesome).

A MASSIVE thankyou to all involved and for all your inspirational stories, kindness and for sharing some of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever been in. I will be back (if Ned is kind enough to invite me and also I will be making mummy Mallon sign up, as she had the time of her life).

Keith, Ned and myself after 6 hour swim


I’m just about recovered 5 days later and back to a lovely steady 20 – 25km for the next 2 weeks. Will go and support my friend Caroline O’Hanlon playing netball in the Commonwealths next week, which I’m hoping will add to my drive and fuel me with inspiration. Basically I will be on call for the my Channel swim from the start of August onwards, now that Ireland has been like the Bahamas weather wise these last few weeks... Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeoooooo!
Team Awesome - Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

News from Ireland!

Hey all… just a quick first update from Ireland, all is going great and it’s SUNNY! (surprisingly!) So that’s a great start. Millions of children everywhere with heaps of energy and lots of family, it really is amazing!

On the training front, I’m having a good week so far - gradually getting used to the colder waters – but just taking baby steps as it sure is different from Sydney. A few things that have happened.

My Family after completing the Triathlon
Camlough Sprint Triathlon (my local village) where the county goes clean mad for it and then the night after is lethal! I really enjoyed completing this with all of my family, except my oldest brother 
(he had planned to do it, however was so busy doing lifeguard duties during the first two waves he missed his wave), and am super proud of my mum who also participated. I was lucky enough to come in first local girl and won an oversized beer glass (…looked a lot like a trophy strangely) – which was pretty cool!

So back to swimming and cold water preparation – I have a new training partner (will never replace you Scott Miers, but he’s a bit more conveniently located and still legendary) - the one and only Keith Garry. In fine form he is and we are training a few mornings up at Camlough Lake in around 15 degree water (like a bath now that I am used to it hehe!). 

We also did an awesome swim from Carlingford to Omeath (temp in around 14 degrees), a 10km round trip where he got the better of me! Even had a visit fromm a nosey wee seal which kept our kayaker Alex company – CLASS! The homeland is so beautiful if the weather is kind.

Carlingford Lough - 10km round trip

Next big race is this Saturday from Giles Quay to Clogherhead around 20 – 25km (the ‘Port Oriel’) where a few local swimmers will participate either solo or as part of a team  (including my legend of an uncle Milo McCourt!)

Keith teaching me a lesson @ Camlough Lake
I also have to get a trip up the north soon to get in where the water is really 11 degrees or less - this is where it will make all the difference and start preparing me for all sorts of states of mind/hyperthermia etc.


So all is going well - keep tuned and will give a full low down soon of Port Oriel, cold temperatures and my new freedom of mind - no more need to think about sharks or anything weird like that!


Caught some dinner at the lake!

Monday, 26 May 2014

South Head Roughwater and BON VOYAGE SYDNEY!!!


Hey all...So this will be my last blog or should I say BLOB on Australian soil - it's all happening and creeping up fast! I am soon to return home to Ireland and its going to be mental!!! (apart from the training swims lined up, I’m from a good catholic family and my older siblings are reproducing like rabbits – so there are 8 wee nippers waiting to meet their aunty Colleen!)

Participating in the South Head Roughwater ocean swim (Bondi Beach to Watson's Bay) the weekend before last has refocused me and added the fuel I need for the task ahead.
A brief recap on the swim -  IT WAS TOUGH AND AWESOME… that's it.. 

Alex and I coming into the finish flying the Armagh flag!
 No, on a serious note, I had a few pointers from a good friend and swim-mate Scott Miers the day before in regards to being patient, however, I still managed to underestimate it. The water looked calm and conditions were perfect and everyone was talking about how this was the year the fast guys will break records. OH BOY was it a different story when we all got in the water! I knew I had my work cut out for me as there were two great swimmers and lovely girls in the race with much more speed and experience in their arms, but I wasn't afraid of blowing up as I was treating this as training and practising my nutrition. My partner Alex was kayaking (her first time), but I had absolute trust in her to keep a good line and take no sh*t from me - and that’s exactly what she did. 

Thank you Coach Charm!
The race started and I planned to go hard - if I died it would just be a learning curve. So I went out hard, got into a rhythm and then got frustrated as I felt I was making very little progress past Ben Butler (just past north Bondi headland). But this was all part of it so I knuckled down, enjoying the cliff scenery and Alex singing and paddling beside me. All was going relevantly well until we hit the first lighthouse and then the current got really strong - you could even see the seaweed and fish frantically being pushed in the opposite direction as we were heading. I completely underestimated this swim and all the different variables it fired at the swimmers, but it was so much fun and the group of people doing it were awesome. I have to give a special shout out to the guys at South Maroubra RSL, as without them guys I wouldn’t have been able to enter and may have been eaten by sharks! 

Coming in to the finish was awesome (not at the time, but now looking back), and there was a great atmosphere at Watsons Bay Hotel.  It was a successful day completing the swim in 3 hours 5 seconds and coming in first female solo - not a very good time for 10km I know, but it just shows you what the conditions were like. Good day, good training, great celebrations. 

So a lot has happened since this swim and a lot still has to be done, but baby steps all the way! South head swim was another step in the right direction - it scared me a lot in regards to what is to come as I found this swim hard, and if this was hard, then I need not even bother with the north channel as it’s a monster in comparison! Anyways these are the type of tricks and arguments you have with yourself repeatedly.  

Last weekend was a 4 hour swim at Brighton le Sands - it was like a swimming pool, everything was perfect but it was BORING (so it was wonderful mental preparation as I’m going to have to get used to being bored). This week I will clock up a steady 30km in the pool, hopefully get to swim from Coogee to Bondi (as I have never done this and am dying to do it before I go home) and then complete a 6 – 8 hour swim on Saturday leaving Sydney with a bang! I will also most likely be as stiff as a board and the air hostess will have to carry me off in Dublin - Hehehehe!

On a more serious note, I will sadly miss Sydney and all my awesome buddies here. On a swimming note – I will definitely miss all the swimmers at VLAD swim and the amazing coaches - THANK YOU everyone for being so inspirational in their own wee way (and you know you’re all very welcome to come and use South Armagh’s 1.2km 12 degree outdoor pool anytime you want!). In the end though, I think the timing is perfect for a change of scenery - a time for me to refocus and start working hard again while getting acclimatised to the cold water and tough love from my siblings. With trying to organise and move all my belongings overseas, training is going to have to take a bit of a back sit after the past couple of weeks BUT there is a lot of great training swims, camps and competitions happening over the Irish summer so STAY TUNED and STAY CLASSY SYDNEY!

 PURE ATHLETE

www.pure-athlete.com/
A special shout out this week to PureAthlete – these guys have a bunch of spectacular new products produced in Ireland Co. Galway, all focused on helping athletes improve their recovery and, as a result, leader to better performance in their respective sports.

I have trialled some of their stuff after big events (the bath salts in particular are the dart), like the 8 hours swim in Melbourne and the South Head Roughwater race - when my body was in complete turmoil. AMAZING! I don’t know what it does but it gets into your muscles and releases all the bad sh*t out of them, and has really seemed to help with speeding up my recovery. For all the Aussies, they’ve recently opened a branch in Port Macquarie too. 

While training over the last few months I’ve really come to realise that while training miles are important, recover is just as important (if not more so). So the cycle continues – train/recover/perform/train/recover/perform – and I want to thank these guys for helping me along the way.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Swimsuit Vouchers Up For Grabs!!

Hey All!

My awesome Aussie sponsor BudgySmuggler has given me some more swimsuit vouchers to GIVEAWAY!! They make loads of funky suits for both guys and girls, so they're definitely worth winning....As I'll be off to Ireland soon, this could be your LAST chance (5 x $20 vouchers up for grabs!!!) so be sure to get in on it!

A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks and I have learnt how important mental strength and finding inspiration is - not just for sport, but in all walks of life...

SOOOOO....TO WIN...All you have to do is share you favourite inspirational quote for the benefit of others (in the comments section below or on Facebook), and you'll be in the running!!

Mine = "The price of discipline is much less than the pain of regret"

Happy Smuggling!!!

 



Thursday, 1 May 2014

ICE ICE BABY!!

Mike and I gettin' pumped up for the final 1.5km
This week was AWESOME, I learnt some much about the body and mind. I’ve just spent 4 days in Brighton, Melbourne doing a cold water swim camp organised by Vlad swim squad based in Sydney. It was extreme one may say - we endured around 16hrs in the water and covered approximately 60km. There was a group of around 20 swimmers of all ages and abilities, but one thing in common - all bloody CRAZY!


It is 5 days after the camp now and the body is still recovering, but overall its responded well and I am extremely happy with where I am in my preparation at the moment. I found 2 swims particularly hard -  the Friday night swim was for an hour and a half and we were not allowed to eat (for anyone that knows me - I LOVE MY FOOD and I get frangry when I’m hungry'). I also got a bit cocky in the 3 hour swim earlier on that day and maybe went a wee bit too hard considering we had to complete an 8 hour swim the next day. But after the swim, I did a Linford Christie and made a B-line for the fish and chip shop over the road from Brighton Bay! I looked like a homeless person wrapped up like an onion shivering uncontrollably and horsing the chip into me..MMMMMMMMM they were so good! (Not sure if I actually had time to taste them - but this is the power of the human mind and the tricks it plays on you…)

(Scary Me!!!) After the Big 8 Hour Swim...
The biggest challenge of the weekend though was the 8 hour swim on Saturday. The first 3 hours were sheer and utter HORROR… completing approximately 2km loop when it was still dark (started at 6am), cold, 30k winds and for a quarter to a third of the circuit the waves and the chop was intense! It was a challenge in itself to "just keep swimming". We had an opportunity to feed after each circuit by treading water while an army of amazing, patient volunteers were ready and giving you your feed and listening to you blurbing and complaining or just simply giving off ABUSE. Every time I stopped, even for less than a minute or two, and no matter how cold I was I still managed to get at least two to three curse words in BAHAHAHA. There was plenty of “JESUS' its roasting, why didn't I wear my bikini today?” with my lips purple, grey skies, and just freezing cold water! Volunteers were AMAZING - standing out in the cold, windy and occasional rainy conditions. THANK YOU to each and every one of you, you practically did the swim for me - without that support this task was IMPOSSIBLE and that’s why its is so important to have the right boat crew on the day of your crossing. You need someone with thick skin that knows you inside out, because the abuse and the places you go in your mind are so scary its crazy!
The Last Swim - Middle Brighton Pier, Melbourne
I fought with myself mentally for the first 3-4 hours and after that I told stories to myself about when we were travelling, childhood stories, said prayers, went through my timetables, but the best thing was simply ONE, TWO, THREE – these simple words saved my bacon. I am not under any illusions - I am fully aware of the hard work and mental preparation to be done in the next 3 months, but boy' god this was a wonderful learning curve.

Anyways I'm not going to bore you with every detail but there was a few cool things that happened during the camp in regards to research, self-learning and great advice/mentoring too. The camp was paired with bonds University as a research project directed by a successful nutritionist - Tara Diversi - and it was fascinating. Blood tests, urine samples, body fat, "fat folding" test (don't know the technical terminology for this one) all sorts of data collection along with nutritionists monitoring the type and quantity of feed consumed. This data is currently getting assessed and as a result, advice will be given about the type of nutrition we should consume at what time intervals, and also how my body reacted to the 13 - 14 degrees water at different times during the 8 hours. We even swallowed a temperature sensor in a small tablets and by doing this they could monitor our core temperature (COOL OR WHAT?!) and tell if I need to put any more weight on and which location it needs to be put on etc etc - FASCINATING HEY!
The last thing I’m going to say is, we received a talk from a pain management guy from Wollongong - it was all very technical and sure you know I’m not the brightest spark, but talking about having to manage your pain in a task like the channel was pretty interesting. We discussed pain as a warning to your body that something is wrong, whether it be big or small, that its inevitable that there is intense pain in these challenge and that's why it’s such an accomplishment - we deserve the pain we earned the pain - EAT IT UP!' That helped me to think of it like that - you know it’s not a serious injury and every ache and pain that I ever had,  small knocks that I got playing under 12 football came back and haunted me during the long 8 hour swim, but I was prepared to say “nope, not today - that’s just my mind playing tricks” and an orderly cue of complains, aches, reasons to get out, excuses and one faint quiet reason to stay in – “this is an 8 hour full on, intense battle of the mind and I have to just keep swimming”. That’s the greatest thing I got out of the camp. I have to clear my mind, take it elsewhere, eat the pain, be grateful, peaceful and powerful.. without this learning curve I wouldn't have believed anyone that says this challenge is 40% physical / 60% mental (I would even go as far as 30% / 70%!).
A massive shout out to Vladimir Mravec and Charmian Frend for their never ending enthusiasm, support and patience. Also to all the participants - you are all amazing and so inspiring, thank you for the help during each swim!
(Also if you have never been to Melbourne - it AMAZING! Food, wine, shopping and well organised transports… worth a nose!)



Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter Rising!

Hey all, Happy Easter and hope your belly is not trailing like mine after making a complete sow of myself over Easter. But I can't lie, I LOVED every second of over-eating and drinking I honestly think I was made to do this...

Ok I have to admit my last update was a bit depressing looking over it now – but that’s the way it is. Some weeks are AWESOME and some weeks are just down right pure and utter SHITE! : )
Last week I ticked off my biggest training week yet…40km - not massive I know BUT baby steps, baby steps! AND this was an AWESOME week, yipppeeee!

Team Awesome!
Got a very beneficial body scan @measureup with all the other aspiring channel swimmers organised by a wonderful swimmer and friend Tara Diversi, who will continue to probe, test and experiment with all swimmers attending VLAD's cold water camp in melbourne this coming week. The scan gave very technical information, BMC, BMD, Body Fat %, where in your body the fat is distributed, and what  percentage your trunk, arms, legs etc store. I am sure this will all be of great benefit when I have the opportunity to ask Tara what it all means. At first glance I used the colour chart and appeared to be in the morbidly obese section (which hurt my feelings); so I immediately rang my partner with a big lump in my throat, to of course discover that dumb ass was reading it incorrectly and i'm only just OVERWEIGHT bahahahaha… look that’s only of the perks of open water swimming, particularly in cold water “you need fat as insulation” yippppeee so all that hard work of eating ice cream , muffins, chips and all the yummy stuff paid off – YESSSS I have confidence I won't die of hyperthermia - bring it on!

Anyways moving on from the overweight blah - Good Friday - mental that while when Jesus was getting crucified I was doing laps of Coogee beach (this doesn’t sound fair hey).  I met Scott Miers at Coogee with a few of his local swimming buddies and the water was PERFECT! We covered a decent 7.5km visiting the wedding cake island twice where it was really choppy, coming at us from every direction - brilliant!

Pink was the wardrobe choice of the day...
This week, my swim club also held its annual 100 x 100 session on Saturday morning in my most favourite pool in the world, Andrew Boy Charlton. I went to the pool with no expectations or pressure on myself, I just wanted to cover the 10k and get the funk out of there! But I LOVED IT! I had never done this set before and was interested to see what way it panned out and my body would react….and I WAS MAD FOR IT! 3 lanes of crazy amazing people turned up for this wonderful challenge, all under the order of Sergeant Charm! Coach Charm cleverly split the set into 10 x 10 100ms (hope you understand this as i'm confusing myself lol). By the 6th and 7th set of 10s, the numbers in the lane started to decrease. 

Sergeant Charm being her normal legend self!
The 4th, 8th and 9th sets were definitely the hardest and I was busting myself and giving it everything on the 9th set, thinking that the 10th set was a cool down – BUT NO, not at all! The last set of 10 x 100ms was to be the hardest of all! 4 HARD, 1 EASSSSSSSY (x2) …….HOLY F**K!, Charm enthusiastically says "you’re nearly there, you’re nearly at the other side in relation to the channel, push hard against the current" (well I think she was saying this amongst a few japanese and chinese words BAHAHAHA) but her encouragement  FLARED me up, BRING IT, it is only 10 more after all, we have already done 90! I think by the 3rd hard one, my arms were talking to me – like WTF are you doing, but I kept smiling and I surprisingly felt good and knew I had a little more in the tank because if I was that close to the shore of Scotland there is NOT A MISSION I was going to let the current f’ it up and not land my toes on that sand! Coming in on the last HARD of the day at 1min 13 secs – happy camper! Massive congrats to all involved.


AT LAST…seeing some fruits of hard work, feels good and I am happy with where I am at this time. Bring on Melbourne Cold Camp this Thursday for some more torture!

Pain is only weakness leaving the body - I must have a lot of weakness in my body - ouch!