Saturday, 16 July 2011

sea swims

two laps and then.

North sea swims take some planning to stay safe. And just a bit of courage (or madness) to get in the water.

I look at the tide table and pick my time of day. I prefer an hour or so after slack low tide, when the tide is just starting to think about coming back in.  Then I check the wind and surf conditions.  And then look at the direction of the current by scanning the horizon for container ships at anchor.

Today it was grey, flat, windy out of the south and a bit cold. And raining slightly. I rode over to check out the conditions, with my wet suit rolled up in my back pack, ready to swim if the conditions were right. As I dressed, I kept my hoodie on to stay warm. Then it started to drizzle. As if getting wet was going to be a problem.  I coaxed myself into the water by saying I could get out if I wanted, I could swim as short as I wanted, and so on.

Getting into the water is always a bit of a shock, so I let myself warm up slowly, not putting my face in until the rest of my body has adapted.  The first couple times of getting my face wet bring a bit of a choking reflex because the water is cold. I adjusted and got swimming.  I needed to swim out away from shore to get past a secondary surf line that breaks on a sand bar. It's a bit strange to be a couple hundred metres off shore and still be able to put my feet down on the sand.  Sighting is a bit of a challenge since no matter which direction I swim, a combination of the current and wave action orients me towards shore.

I brought the tempo trainer today and tried using it to help my concentration and rhythm. I liked it. I adjusted it to a little slower (1:40) after 1:30 felt a little rushed.  The beeping helped me focus on gliding, driving the high hip down, relaxed hands, stretching long, and so on. I liked reading Swimming Outside the Box last night while soaking in the tub.  Good pointers there.

I swam about 2300 metres in two laps, getting out and walking back up the beach rather than struggling against the current. I felt tired by the end of the second lap, so got out by the cat club rather than continuing as far north as the first lap (to the nudist club).  That felt right. I didn't time myself or try to go fast. Instead, I focused on my strokes, trying to string together a relaxing sequence of good technique.

Now I'm going to get warm and fed and watch some bike racing. Then ride a bit on the trainer probably, since the drizzle has turned into a storm.

I decided against riding with Jeff's mates this morning since likely I would have pushed myself too hard. Not the right choice in taper week.  Eight days and counting.

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