Sunday, 17 July 2016

My biggest challenge yet

Not the weather I ordered!
Arriving at Lake Bala for the second and most daunting of my challenges last weekend, I was struck by how bleak it looked. The sky was grey, the mountains were shrouded in mist and it was pouring down. Most worrying for me, it was windy and the water was choppy! This was definitely not the weather I had hoped for and nothing at all like the calm swimming conditions I was used to.

I felt genuinely scared. I always knew that the hardest part of the 1km swim would be the mental challenge and overcoming my panic, but the weather conditions had just made it a whole lot tougher.

As I entered the lake, the first thing that hit me was the cold - 16 degrees to be precise - the coldest water I have ever swum in.

The next thing to hit me (literally) was a wave, right in the face. I lost my rhythm and came up for air, panic starting to set in. Doubts started to fill my head. What if it was too far? What if I couldn't do it? What if the weather got the better of me?

Then I heard the reassuring voice of one of the safety kayakers "Let your breath settle, you'll be fine". I tried again. The wind and another wave hit me in the face. Again the kayaker reassured me and again I tried to relax. Each time I breathed to my left, I caught a reassuring glimpse of the kayak and gradually my breathing calmed down and slowly I got into my front crawl rhythm.

Badly timed waves made sighting the buoys tricky at times and I veered a bit off course once or twice, but I made it to the first buoy. I started to relax and my confidence grew. At that point I told myself I could do it, I just had to keep going. I was buffeted by the waves and I collided with another swimmer, but I stuck at it. When I reached the second buoy, I heard my friend in the kayak again. "You're nearly there" she shouted. She was right, I was on the homeward stretch and I was actually going to do it. 

As I approached the third and final buoy, the swimmer I had collided with was just ahead of me and my competitive side kicked in. It was only a mini battle (we were way behind the leaders), but one I wanted to win. I picked up speed, passed the other swimmer and made it to the jetty a few seconds ahead of her.

I had done it! Challenge number two was complete!

I did it!!

I'm taking on three challenges in 2016 to help Pregnancy Sickness Support raise enough money to put its information leaflets in Bounty's Pregnancy Information Packs. This would enable it to reach every single mum-to-be in the UK with details of the vital support and information the charity can provide to sufferers and their families. You can read about my three challenges here.

If you would like to sponsor me, my fundraising page is here. Thank you.

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