My training for this summer’s English Channel swim has been building for months, but the open water part is just starting to ramp up. I have been doing most of my open water training with my friend Rebecca, who is also training for an English Channel swim! Rebecca has the same swim window as me (July 29-August 6th) but with a different boat pilot. This means that we could actually be crossing the channel on the same day!
Today Rebecca and I met at tower 26 to complete a 3-hour training swim. Because we didn’t have a kayaker for this swim, we planned to complete 3 laps and head into the beach after each lap to grab a drink. This worked pretty well, although I definitely prefer staying in the water the whole time! The current was pushing north and the water was super bumpy, especially when we were swimming south toward the Venice breakwater. We started out heading south and though the water was warm, I couldn’t find my rhythm. This was not unusual, as it sometimes takes me awhile to warm up, so I just kept on swimming. For the first lap, I kept veering too far into shore and we had to duck a few waves until we straightened out our course. The first half hour seemed to drag on, but as soon as we turned around to head north, we got a push from the current and our pace picked up a little. Soon we were back at our starting point and quickly grabbed our drinks and headed back into the water.
I found my pace much more quickly on the second lap, even though the water was still pretty bumpy. Rebecca and I swam past a group of triathletes and they warned us about a dead pelican they had passed a few hundred yards away. So now all I could think about was swimming into a dead pelican the way that Lynne Cox swam into a dead dog during a race in the Nile. Every time I hit a piece of seaweed, I thought I was about to look up and see a floating bird carcass.
We finished the second lap and realized that it had taken about 2 1/2 hours, meaning that our last lap could be a short one! We headed out for our last lap and I still couldn’t get my tempo right, but I just kept swimming anyway. We turned around to head back and some paddleboarders told us they had just seen a huge pod of dolphins heading the other way. We continued to swim back to the tower and when I took a sighting stroke I saw a fin in the water 100 yards ahead of me. Thinking of all the recent shark sightings I started to freak out a little. Rebecca assured me that it was just a dolphin and soon we saw two more fins headed right for us. The dolphins were maybe 10 feet away as they swam past us. It was so cool to be so close to the dolphins, but also thrilling because they are such huge animals! Rebecca and I headed back into shore and were happy to be finished with our workout!
Although my swim tempo was not ideal, it was the kind of training swim that helps me build confidence and learn how to keep swimming even when I don’t feel good in the water! It is so nice to have a training buddy who shares my goals and makes training really fun. Looking ahead to the rest of the summer, I have plenty more training before I embark on my channel crossing!