Attack of the Jellies

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I did the BLDSA Torbay swim last Saturday . Just one width of the bay – 4miles
Then I got out . ūüė≠

There were about 20 swimmers in the race. We each had our own kayaker to accompany us across.

It was quite sunny at the start but as soon as we entered the water the clouds moved in and we ended up having to swim in very difficult conditions,  with strong cross currents, rain, wind and chop. Even the kayakers struggled to maintain course.

For the most part of my swim I was having great fun, I even shouted to my kayaker, "This is great ! More chop ! "

But as I was approaching the other side of the bay I had my first jellyfish encounter. There were several . They just seemed to come out of nowhere! I panicked and sprinted out of the way.

I'm allergic to insect bites and didn't know quite how a jellyfish sting would affect me. I think I may have been stung on my back. Im not sure, it felt as though I'd brushed across some nettles. It wasn't painful really, just a prickly sensation on my skin, but  it completely ruined my concentration.

Thereafter I felt quite uneasy in the water. My stroke rate dropped. I was cramping up in my legs and I had excruciating pain in my hip flexors. The cold had got to me. I was shivering and I started to feel anxious and miserable.

Then I became disorientated and lost sight of my kayaker and, fearing that perhaps I was experiencing the onset of hypothermia , I decided to get out.

What happened to Never Get Out of The Water, Riccardo?!

I've never given up on a swim before. I felt bloody awful afterwards, really down and depressed.

If I were honest I think I was depressed even before I entered the water. Perhaps more anxious than depressed , but the symptoms are similar. Basically fear and insecurity, self-doubt and and despair infect my thoughts.

On my return to London I had a long talk with Tim. He didn't seem worried at all about my swim. He said it was fine. It was a useful experience, that if I had the right support and focussed on my swim I would have completed the two way, easy.  I'd just let fear and  negativity get the better of me.

The battle I face is with maintaining a positive mental attitude.

Most inportantly I need to stay calm, whatever situation I find myself in.

Tim has asked me to write a list of negative thoughts that might come into play during my channel swim and beside them write counter arguments to keep me focussed on the positive.

So that's what I have to do this eve.

Here's a picture of me with fellow swimmers Juliette Bigley, Nils Young, Rohan Byles and  Guy Moar, taken before the swim when we were in more positive spirits

BLDSA Torbay Swim 2016

And also a vine video I shot  :

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Cycling

I have done two two hour continuous swims in the last couple of days.

I mention these swims because it’s actually been quite some time since I last swam without stopping. Since the summer time I’ve got into the habit of doing short sprints and lots of drills.  This is the kind of  training Tim recommends – interval training,  which is all about beating the clock – doing the same distance but at higher speeds.

The problem for me however, has been that mentally I’ve been feeling  somewhat out of tune with distance swimming and I’ve been struggling to swim more than 200m at a time.  So these longer swims  are intended to test my stamina and concentration.

During the swims, to counter the onset of boredom and fatigue, I found myself cycling through different styles of front crawl every 50 to 200 metres. This allowed me to rest and stretch different muscle groups  and test and refresh connection with the water. Changes in my stroke were largely prompted by having to do lengths.  Turns can interrupt ones rhythm but  also offer the opportunity to reboot and rethink ones stroke. It was quite an enjoyable swim and I’m pleased not to have injured myself. Also I think I have reduced the amount of splash I create on hand entry. I hope this is the case and I wasn’t imagining it.

In the course of long swims one needs to continually test and correct ones form in order to maintain an efficient stroke.

The swims were  useful in building my self confidence and made me think that I need to do at least two or three long swims a week in addition to  my interval training. This will help me assess the impact the interval training on my speed and form over a longer course.

Will speak with Tim about this tomorrow.

Also need to stay hydrated and time my swims!

Time is important Iacono! The faster you swim the quicker you can get out of the water, which for a channel swim is particularly important.

Slow swims increase exposure to cold and increase risk of hypothermia-

Stay warm – swim fast!