Saturday Night 12th March – saw me at the CSPF (Channel Swimmers & Pilot Federation) annual dinner and awards ceremony. It was a great evening and awesome to be in the company of so many ‘Good and Great’ members of channel swimming. Acknowledging the successful relay and solo swimmers of 2010 and catching up with wonderful people like Freeda, Barry Irene, Emma, Michelle; meeting, for the first time, the likes of Mike & Angela Oram, My Pilot – Neil Streeter, and spending time with my Buddy and my hero Ian Down – Channel Swimmer August 2010. I also thoroughly enjoyed the company of Anne & Sarah, two ladies on our table who had come to recce the CSPF and channel swimming in general as part of their research for their considered 2 person relay in 2012 – It was a pleasure meeting you ladies, I look forward to seeing you on the beach in Dover and Good Luck for what I am sure will become a firm plan for 2012.
After a most enjoyable evening, finishing at gone 1am and that included ‘not’ joining the group who went on to Dover’s highlife attraction which is the ‘Funky Monkey’ nightclub! and just a few hours kip – we continued the annual tradition, meeting on the beach for an early morning and early season dip.
10am saw about 2 dozen of us peel off our layers in the grey skies and icy winds and wade out into the cold waters – Here we go again… my brain asking why? why? why?… my heart going into shock, my head saying I can’t do this, really I cant! and my arms and legs feeling like one of my arch rivals is having revenge time on a voodoo doll.
I swam for a few minutes hoping that the pain would ease, the heart rate would drop, slightly, and that I would find a rhythm; which actually I did, the water was cold, but to be honest, not as cold as the 4 or 5 degrees that had been bantered the night before, and I don’t think it was as cold as the swim in Wells-Next-The-Sea or the swim in Germany.
I swam for approximately 20 minutes all in all and feeling quite good, I when I returned to the beach I was quite surprised that so many people had already exited the water, in fact as I looked up at the beach there they all were dried, dressed and warming up. As I drew to my feet – Loyal as ever, was Barry standing with my Crocs in hand; he threw them to me and I placed them on before walking up the pebble beach, I looked up to Barry to thank him, as her pointed behind me and said “you’ve lost one”, I thought he was referring to one of the two people who’d stayed in longer than me. He was in fact pointing to one of my Crocs floating on the water – My feet were that numb that I hadn’t even noticed that one has slipped off and I was walking bare footed up the pebbles.
I dried and dressed quickly before pouring myself a hot coffee from my flask. Within seconds as the warm and cold blood circulated about my body, the shakes started – I became the entertainment of those left on the prom – “Fill his coffee cup again” said Emma noticing that I’d spilt more than I’d drank, “No I’m fine” I said… “No, not for you to drink” said Emma, “its so we can enjoy watching how much you’re spilling!”
We strolled back to the Premier Inn with just enough time to pack the car (including the helium CSPF balloons – Thanks Emma) and head off home before the rain!