The training is coming along well. Have been getting into the Bay at least once per week and trying to keep the body used to the cold water. Melbourne turned on a bit of a cold snap this past week so the air temperature has dropped right off – although this has not necessarily translated to lower Bay temperatures just yet. Now that we are into August, there is probably another four weeks until the temperature bottoms out and the warmer weather returns.
I have keeping an eye on both the Channel Swimming Association (CSA) and Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CSFP) websites since the channel swimming season started in late June 2014 and it has been encouraging to see so many people successfully making it across. 20 CSFP swimmers (and I imagine a similar number of CSA swimmers) have been successful and we are only about 6 weeks in.
I started doing a bit of research into what the fastest ever, average, and fastest swims this year actually look like. It’s not rocket science. The shorter the distance you can swim the faster the time is likely to be. This is heavily reliant on your pilot putting you in the right place at the right time. You need to know roughly what pace you will be swimming at and be in the right place when the tide changes. Looking at Trent Grimsey’s record breaking 6 hour 55 minute swim from 2012, he swum almost a perfect straight line. Trent is obviously an incredible swimmer and was swimming at a pace which few could sustain for that long. My coach Chloe McCardel had a similar looking straight line when she crossed in 9 hours 3 minutes in 2011.
Getting back to reality, it is interesting to look at the fastest swim for the 2014 season so far compared to an average swim of around 14 hours. Bob Fernald swam a high 10 hour time and was relatively straight, however Jason Betley was not so lucky, being taken by the tides in both directions but landing in the perfect spot.
My goal is to obviously make it across first and foremost, however I think it’s always good to have a stretch target to work towards which is to complete the crossing around the 10 hour mark. As such, I am tailoring my training to be able to comfortably swim at 4km/hour pace. This should allow adequate time for feeding (30 seconds every 30 minutes).