Swims 4 & 5: Loch Allua and Myrtleville

Swim 4 – Loch Allua

Loch means Lake.

And now you know just as much Irish as I do.

I was really nervous about this 8 km freshwater swim and how I would do.  I had taken Advil post Sandycove that morning and didn’t take any before the swim, just to see how I would hold up.  I guess it was a race, because we again left in waves according to speed; slow swimmers first and fast swimmers last to keep the boat cover closer together.

The lake was beautiful.  The course seemed to twist and turn through reeds, which made it kind of fun to zigzag through.  All along the shore were meadows and trees, green as green can be.  It was just like swimming back home.  And WARM!  70° in some spots!  I spent a lot of time trying to find cold patches.  

I started with a group of swimmers… and promptly seemed to fall behind them.  I spent a lot of time being frustrated with myself during this swim.  My shoulder was right on the edge of really hurting.  I knew it was best to back off and not try to be speedy and just take it easy.  18 km in two days was a lot, and I probably hadn’t swum so much in a week.   I spent a lot of time paying attention to my stroke, hoping that I wasn’t damaging myself.

I got really, really hungry during this swim.  We’d had no time to do anything after Sandycove except get ready for Loch Allua – I didn’t even shower!  Lunch was just a sandwich, and that was long gone.  So to keep myself occupied, I kept telling myself that I was “halfway there.”  Don’t worry, you’re halfway there.  It’s not much farther now.  I told myself that even when I knew I was near then end.

I was passed by waves of faster swimmers: the butterflier, the breaststroker, and David in his green cap. It was kind of amazing to watch them swim, for as long as I could see them.  And then I simply continued.

Somewhere, right before the end, something in my shoulder just sort of rolled and the nasty twinge, and its corresponding promise of debilitating pain let go.  I suddenly noticed that all I was was hungry, and not tired and not hurting.  Just hungry.

The end of the swim was supposed to be really fun, because we exited the lake and went down a river to finish in the river.  There was supposed to be a nice current assist.  But it turned out that the water was so low, there wasn’t much help from any current.  Regardless, it was neat to have started in a lake and finish in a river.  It was great fun to feel like I had gotten somewhere!

I got out and rolled my arm up.  I was surprised when it went up with only the familiar feeling of tired, worn, achiness and not excruciating stabbing.  What a relief!  I had half expected to not be able to lift my arm by the end of day two.


Swim 5 – Myrtleville

It was a sub-four morning for the Myrtleville swim Monday morning.  This swim had been in the schedule for last year, but we were weathered out.  This year has been incredible for sunshine and warmth; it’s made Ned Denison awfully grumpy.

This swim was in the sea.  We started at 5 am and swam out from Myrtleville Beach over to the next beach at Fountainstown and then back.  Approximately 4 km.

One of the many things I like about the Ireland swims is being able to find someone to swim with who’s your speed. And so, I was glad when I started with a lady with a yellow cap and kept along with her pretty well.  We were doing well together, but it wasn’t very long before it seemed to me that she was slowing down and maybe not doing well.  When she stopped for a moment, she told me she was feeling queasy, but she insisted I continue on.

I obeyed her; after all, hanging around was only going to make me cold.  I swam a little bit and then turned around to see if I could see her heading back in.  She wasn’t; she was still swimming out.  Between the tide Ned had warned us about, the temperature of the water, the time of the morning and everything else, I just felt like I shouldn’t leave her.  I circled back to where she was swimming along slowly only to have her stop again.  She really seemed to be in trouble.  I told her I would swim back in with her.  But she insisted she was fine and waved me on.

I went off again, more than a little worried… and now all I had to think about was how cold I was.  It wasn’t much longer than I met Carl and Bryn, heading back to shore.  I told them about the yellow capped swimmer and the trouble she complained of and asked them to look after her.  They assured me they would.

And now, again, all I had to think about was how cold I was.

But I continued on.  I met Sarah on her way back, too.  I told myself that when I saw Sylvain turn around, I would go back too.

The sea was beautiful.  The sunrise at the cliff’s edge was spectacular.  Houses along the cliffs slowly lightened and the green countryside was exquisite in the morning light.  It was so lovely.  Such an incredible morning; such and incredible swim.

I missed Sylvain’s turn, I was so distracted by the view and the cliffs and everything.  I turned and headed back.  There were pockets of cold, cold during this swim.  I worried about myself, dawdling in the beginning the way that I had.  Some part of me that felt so tired and cold wanted to just roll over and lie there and fall asleep.  In the middle of the sea, rocked gently back and forth.  Oh Bethany, you would die.  You have no choice.  You have to keep swimming.

So I did.  And then, then I was taking the turn through the cliffs back to Myrtleville.  When I got out, I wasn’t too bad off and felt glad of that.  I must be acclimating after all!  I think I heard somebody say it was 11° Celsius.

As we walked up the giant concrete steps to leave, I thought to myself that this was one of my favorite swims in terms of the features and beauty so far this year.

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