The Channel

Matt G

Matt G

It's only cold water - how hard can it be ?

At the age of 40, having played competitive rugby for some 20 years I decided I didn't want to be that grumpy, ageing guy always moaning at the referee whenever I was 3 yards off the pace, so I duly retired.

A close rugby friend of mine had similar thoughts around the same time and we decided to have a go at a triathlon.  We both had good aerobic fitness but of the core disciplines I didn't have any that I particularly excelled at.  I could only swim 'head up' breaststroke, hadn't ridden a bike since my paper round and was a pretty 'lumpy' runner.  The one major asset I do possess was that I have always been a stubborn sod.

With that my friend and I embarked on what was to be a 3 year journey that saw us progress from a near drowning episode at a local beach to an Olympic and Half Ironman event, and finally crossing the line at a full Ironman in 2012 - an experience that will stay with me forever.

Since then I have to admit that something has been missing.  I've tried to get involved in other races but having finished an Ironman to prove to myself I could do it , I couldn't find anything that really 'ticked the box'.  I've since concluded that I reckon I'm actually at my best with other similarly committed individuals in a team and probably why I continued to play rugby so long.

So when another great friend told me about, and then completed a Channel Relay swim as a group of 4 I immediately honed in on it for my next fix.  How hard can it be ? I said to myself - after all I am and Ironman don't you know !!!!

We'll this Saturday just past was my first real cold water swim in a lake somewhere near Heathrow.  I've swam a fair bit during the summer but I have to admit I've been wearing a wetsuit throughout. 

So not being one to 'wimp out' I made a point of being the first to enter the water and show that I meant business.  OMG I thought as I climbed down the ladder, first ankle, then knee, then followed one of the those 'male only' moments when the tools that nature kindly gave me decided to make a rapid beeline in a northerly direction 😬.

Such was the discomfort that I decided to just go for it and with that lurched forward into the water and started swimming...............quickly !!!

For those of you who have competed in a triathlon and have ended up hyper ventilating early in the swim, this feeling was that but on a multiple of x 50 times.  Around 100 metres in I thought 'sod this, I'm done' until my trusty swim companion gave me some kind words and coaxed me into reaching a buoy some 300m up the lake.  From that uncomfortable start I am pleased to say that I ended up completing around a mile in what I subsequently found out to be a 'tropical' 10 degrees.

I even decided to follow that up with another 'budgie smuggler' experience on the beach yesterday.  Instead of the tea and cake that was on offer at the seafront kiosk with the family I decided to show how tough I am 😳  

My inner soul is telling me that I do have the skills and attributes to complete this challenge but by no means it ain't going to be easy !!!!

Seaford Head

Matt G

Matt G

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