Sunday, 28 May 2017

Unfinished business...

My one reservation about going back to Geneva this year was that the lure of "unfinished business" would raise the stakes of the swim to the point where it would cease to be the enjoyable adventure that a swim like that deserves to be. In general, I think I've done a pretty good job of keeping it in proportion and not letting it gather too much import over the winter, but the start of the open water season saw my first major wobble. I spent two weeks in Lanzarote at the end of April, covering just over 90km in total and feeling really good in the water, but my return to the open water in the UK didn't go quite so well. It was COLD, and a combination of having lost a bit of weight and being a bit of a softy in the face of the cold, left me unable to get beyond a couple of hours for my first few outdoors swims before my stroke slowed dramatically and I had to get out. There was a lot of this:



It was very disheartening, and with my 10 hour + 7 hour qualification swims looming and the unfinished business of Geneva waiting in the wings, my confidence took a bit of a battering. Thankfully, several people I know and trust gave me a good talking to, and then right on cue, some long-awaited sunshine arrived and the lakes quickly tipped over the threshold from cold to perfectly swimmable (for me, this comes between 12/13 - 14/15).

And so, with the unfinished business back in its box and an almost unbelievable forecast of 25 degree sunshine for the Lake District, I heading off to the always-stunning Grasmere this weekend to get a bit of confidence-building distance under my belt:


I managed my first 6 hour swim of the season with no problems at all, and I followed that with a couple of hours the next day - I was hoping to do more and definitely would have been able to, but thunder, lightning and torrential rain of the kind that only the Lake District can truly deliver stopped play and I was forced to retreat to the van, where I feasted on beans on toast and read until I fell asleep. If this is what unfinished business is like, then I think I can deal with it! 

So the upshot of all this is that I had a bit of a wobble, but some sunshine and the gorgeous Lakes have set me straight. I've got a touch of niggly tendonitis in my left wrist which I'm getting sorted, but apart from that, I'm fit and well and feeling cautiously optimistic. 

And in other news, I recently heard that I've been awarded a Leverhulme Trust fellowship for my new research project on the social life of sugar. This is a huge privilege and a great opportunity, but aside from the work implications (research only for the next year, with no teaching or admin commitments) and the chance to focus on some interesting research, it also means that I'll have the time to train. I was going to take a year or two out of long swimming after Geneva II is over - a chance to let my body / finances recover. But this seems like too good an opportunity to waste. So I'm probably going to be on the market for an interesting swim. At the moment, the 40 Bridges, Zurich or Tahoe are on the 'possible' list, but all suggestions are gratefully received. 

But for now, I'm keeping my sights on (a) the qualification swims in a couple of weeks (2-way-Windermere + 1-way Windermere) and (b) Geneva II. And I'm watching my step very carefully. 


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