Mallorca Long Distance: ‘Boot Camp”

As some of you know, last week I headed to Mallorca in Spain for a ‘Long Distance Swim Training Camp’, run by Swimtrek. And excellent it was too.

The purpose was to glean valuable information, complete the 6 hour channel qualifying swim in 16 degrees C or less and generally panic with other channel aspirants for 2013.

I was not to be disappointed at all! Our guides and mentors were: Kevin Murphy ‘King of The Channel’ (34 crossings, including several doubles), Cliff Golding (7 crossings with will power unrivalled) and the beautiful Babs, Fiona Southwell (An extreme ice swimming mermaid and channel soloist in a force 4).

Our daily routine consisted of 2 swims and a lecture followed by a well earned team dinner; including a pool session on day 1 at 0750 for ‘video assassination’, Before breakfast “Arghhh!”

The weather remained satisfactory for the whole week with some sun, a little rain and light chop with a water temp of 14.5/15 degrees C.

The distance and time in the water increased quickly, along with the ‘jellyfish’ invasion. “Ouch..” We begun with a 1 and 2hr swim on day one, 2 and 3hr on day two, the 6hr qualifier on day three and a stretch-off swim on day four. A total of about 45km in 4 days, based upon 3km/hr.

We all suffered from ‘jellyfish stings’ and fatigue. The big day came and we set off for our 6hr ‘Channel qualifier swim’. The wind had picked up making a coastal swim too treacherous. So we went to a large scenic sheltered bay, trying to avoid the ‘jellies!’

Caked in sun cream and grease to arrest chaffing (don’t get excited girls), armed with tinned peaches, gallons of Maxim (carbohydrate drink) and a bucket load of bananas. Under our mentors’ watchful eyes and quick witted humour, we began. These ‘building blocks’ are truly the foundations to the voyage of discovery.

From the moment that I leapt from the boat, as gracefully as a beached whale, I knew that I was in for a fight. A true ‘toe to toe’ bare fisted fight. I was uncomfortable, cold and stiff from the word go! This test was going to be like no other. My guides continually monitored me as I passed through for ‘feed after feed’. The ‘jellies’, as we affectionately called them, distracted me every so often with yet another well placed thoughtful sting. Nice!

“Just swim to the next feed”

“It’s only cold… you’ll get over it”

“The girls are still in……….”

So, I stayed in. Shivering and teeth grinding.. knowing that I wasn’t the first and I certainly won’t be the last. Around the bay we swam, gradually being hunted and closed down by the ‘jellies’ who, like a slow motion ant army, swarmed into the bay. Another feed on double strength maxim to maintain the carbohydrate and sugar levels. “What’s your name? Oh, its you Gary…. Have you still got a sense of humour?”

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9Much to my delight I emerged after 6hrs ready to put some cloths on and shiver all the way home.  The week was invaluable and highlighted the resolution of ‘steel’ and meticulous planning that will be required for the task ahead. A note book full of useful information and quotes like.. “Why not just buy a £40 return ferry ticket?!” I now commence my final phase of training.