This past weekend was my last weekend of heavy training before I start to taper for my English Channel crossing. My goal was to swim a total of 20 miles, split between two days. On Saturday, Rebecca and I set out to swim 14 miles, which would be my longest training swim ever to date. We launched from the Marina Del Rey jetty just after 6am, with our friend Melissa escorting us in the kayak, and headed north toward the Venice Pier. The water was flat and calm and felt warm on skin as we swam. I felt like I was flying through the water as I tried to find my rhythm. We passed the Venice Pier and Melissa stopped us for our first feed.
I was surprised that the first 30 minutes had passed so quickly and I was feeling great. We continued to swim north to the Venice rock pile and I marvelled at how beautiful the ocean looked and felt. We were soon passing the rock pile and my muscles were loosening up even more and I was still feeling strong.
We took our second feed about halfway to the Tower 26 buoy and I thought about how I don’t think twice about swimming this far but I would never consider running it. I heard a dolphin through the water and looked up to see two fins disappearing off to my left. The Santa Monica Pier was looking really close and I was feeling strong and excited! At the pier, Rebecca’s watch told us we had swam just over 4 miles so we turned around and headed back south.
Even though we had felt that we were being pushed north by the current, we didn’t really feel like we were fighting it heading back south. Around 3 hours, I started to feel a little stiff but I kept pushing on and humming songs to myself. I was also feeling somewhat hungry so I started planning all the food I could eat when I finished swimming. I decided that nothing sounded better than a neopolitan shake from In-N-Out and I told Melissa that at the next feed. She smiled and then handed me my carbo pro (not quite a shake but still good).
We got back to Marina Del Rey just before 4 hours and turned around to head back north for our second shorter lap. I was still feeling warm and enjoying myself swimming between Rebecca and Melissa in the kayak.
We finally reached the tower 26 buoy again and Rebecca’s watch told us we had covered 11 miles, so we could turn around and finish our last stretch back to the pier. Though my body was tired, I still felt strong and was making steady progress through the water. We passed the Venice Pier again and entered the last stretch of water that usually feels like it takes forever to get through. I decided that maybe I wanted chocolate chip pancakes instead of a shake and focused on that while I swam. I could see the Marina Del Rey breakwater in the distance and pressed on toward my goal. I sprinted the last few hundred meters to the breakwater and when I got there I was so excited to be done. Except Melissa told me that I wasn’t done because I was 4 minutes away from 7 hours. I turned back north and swma some backstroke until I had reached the intended end time. I swam into the beach, happy to be done with the swim but also feeling like I could have kept swimming if I’d needed to.
This was my longest training swim ever at just over just over 14 miles and 7 hours. It was a huge confidence builder to swim this far and not feel super wiped and sore afterward. I am so greatful for Rebecca and Melissa for making this such a low stress and well executed swim. In other news, I leave for England in just under 2 weeks and cannot wait to get over there and continue working toward my goal.