Performance

I will be swimming between 8-20 July 2016.

All my training and preparation is for this one event:

A single width of the English Channel;

no stopping and starting;

no resting for TV dinners;

no kissing or cuddling.

One width.

One continuous, uninterrupted line.

(After Merz)

 

Timing

There is no specific date for my swim  because  other swimmers are cued to cross before me.

If their swims are delayed due to bad weather, this affects the timing of my swim. So I have to be ready, flexible, adaptable.

Unlike a marathon run where the course route and distance  are fixed , the distance, timing and path of a Channel swim are governed by swim speed, changing weather conditions and tide.

The shortest distance from England to France is 21 miles in a straight line. When I swim however,  the distance covered will be much longer due to the force of the current which will force me off course. The line I take will be in the form of an S-shape.

There is also the matter of the changing tide. One hears of swimmers arriving within a couple of miles of the French coast and having to swim on the spot for hours because the tide has turned against them.

The question is,  how will I perform when my mind and body at their limits. How will I cope with losing my sense of gravity and place?  With pain?

Delirium

I’ve been there before, all those endless nights working in my studio, running on empty. 

the point where words stop working and pictures follow

sensory deprivation

Hallucinations

More about this to follow.

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The 7th hour

In order to qualify to swim the channel under CSA rules swimmers must first do a 6 hour sea swim without a wetsuit. I did one in the summer of 2012 with Coldwater Culture in Folkestone, but have not done one since, so I have to do it again. I need and want to, largely to assess my condition.

Tim  is confident I can swim the channel, but I still to convince myself. My thinking is the sooner I get those long hauls out of the way the clearer I will be about where I am and if I’m on target.

There is question I will not be able to answer until the day of my swim however. After passing the 6 hour mark what then? Is it plain sailing or plain pain?

The thing is I don’t know what state I will be in seven hours into my swim. I might have found a good stroke that I can hold onto right up to the end, but the chances are that as I run out of energy I will also slow and cool down. With the cooling there is the serious risk of hypothermia. Even if I manage to continue swimming my concentration is likely to falter. This is why nutrition is so important.

In addition to all the swim training, managing ones energy supplies properly is the only way of sustaining mental and physical form.

As Haruki Murakami writes in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by 15miles into a marathon run he thinks he can run forever. However by the 17th mile all of a sudden his energy goes and the only way for him to continue is to endure unbelievable pain. By the end of his 26 miles he does not feel elated or celebratory. He feels relieved.

When  I’ve spent 10 hours being smashed by high waves and my arms and shoulders ache and I’ve lost my. sense of direction and place, I wonder what reason will I  give myself to continue? What will I draw on to keep moving forward?

When I ask myself now why I swim and why swimming the channel is so important I can’t come up with a clear answer . I have to think long and hard about it.

I need to work on the why.

WHY?

Why swim? why suffer? What is the point?

Stay home. Plod. Plod along. Do nothing.

There is the beginning of my answer. It is to show myself that I still have capacity, that I can perform, that I am active participant.

I can do it . I will do it.

Yeah! (shakes fist in the air, plunges flag into mountain top)

Another answer: To keep myself awake!

But why not paint? Why not make art? Surely you will get as much if not more mileage from that?

I don’t know. Yes, I should do that. I can still do that. I am still doing that

and I’m doing this. They’re kind of the same.

There are a number of connections between my swimming and art interests which largely concerned with movement, circulation, connectivity, time and energy management. Many things I hope to get to grips with via this blog.