They said the water would be 25 degrees – it’s 15.
Nobody mentioned the white horses out at sea that take on a sentient form, waiting to break before the swimmer is about to take a breath before rushing towards the cliffs to crash in a hiss of mirth at the unfortunate spluttering form left in the deeps.
And nobody mentioned the sight of John Coningham-Rolls in latex glove, Vaseline in hand which seemed to transport some members of the team back to better-forgotten schoolboy experiences consigned to the annals of memory by years of expensive therapy.
Near disaster on the Sunday evening was averted when Stephen relaxed in a bath after the days physical exertions and promptly fell asleep. In a dictionary definition of irony, having swum nearly eight kilometres during a day, the poor chap damn near drowned in 12-inches of water and was only saved by a fortuitous phone call. Mid-way through day two and many members of the team were thinking that slipping away under the surface of a warm bath might be a better option than continuing on and Ian Downes was regretting having made the phone call!
But Day Two began with an 08:00 briefing from the Commander, as John has been affectionately termed thanks to his clipped military style and his belief in the superhuman abilities of his subordinates. Perhaps naively, the team didn’t quite believe John when he said we would be doing 4.9 km (c. 196 lengths) for the morning leg of the session, but unfortunately the precision military planning knew no humour and off we set in marginally calmer conditions than yesterday’s epic excursion.
Down to the end of the bay and right along the dominating cliff line of the Gozo coast for the Pinky and Perky sponsored day of the event and, whilst a number of the team’s backs are looking especially Pinky, looking round the table right now, there’s not much Perky about the group!
The team struggled through the longest individual leg to date in preparation for the mammoth Gozo to Malta swim and the team really got into their stride. There is little training that can prepare for swimming out into the sea with nothing but blue below you and the occasional jellyfish – it’s like a scene from 2001 A Space Odyssey… the bit with the computer of course as opposed to the simian-infused beginning… although, looking round the team…
Thankfully, the team has so far managed to avoid the real big boys of the jellyfish community, although a couple of the swimmers did encounter some of their smaller counterparts today with fairly painful consequences. We’re just hoping now that the little buggers are not pathfinders for the larger invasion force.
Despite the swim team containing former triathletes, fell-runners and open-water swimmers, this is the hardest physical challenge any of the team have ever taken on and the sheer repetitiveness of the endurance swims really takes its toll. To simply swim 312 lengths of a heated pool and then do 196 lengths the following day would be tough, but with the sun burn, the salt water, the freezing conditions and the choppy waters which have brought on seasickness in more than one of us, it was a real spur this morning to look at the hand-written Good Luck cards sent to all the swimmers by some of the beneficiaries of the charity money raised – that and the fact that we must prove to Lizzie that the Brits can do sport just as well as the Aussies is pretty much the only thing that got us back in the drink again this morning.
Having swum from Xlendi to the delightfully named Fungus Rock with the occasional diversion as Ian Down’s directional radar went off piste and he headed towards Sicilly a couple of times, there was an opportunity to nip ashore, Vaseline the chafed areas and visit the Blue Hole at the Azure Window, one of the most beautiful natural phenomena in the world together with customary souvenir shops and an ice cream vendor appropriately selling Simpsons ice-creams on behalf of one of our sponsors Fox.
Back on the boat for lunch and the wind kicked up a storm which went down well with the potato salad and meant that we were unable to take the boat back to Xlendi which, to the horror of most meant a 6km clifftop hike back to the hotel.
Mirroring something like the evacuation of Boscastle, the team disembarked the Heylam Puki into the inflatable inshore rescue boat and headed for shore in extremely rough conditions, nearly losing Promotions and Incentives ‘most influential man in licensing’ in the process as Ian Downes caught his commando shorts on an outcrop of metal and headed seaward for the second time in the day.
Safely on shore, the team began a difficult hike back across the island of Gozo, which was clearly hand drawn by Esher as you only ever seem to walk up and never down. Trying to force our way through the thistles and gorse on the plateau farms occasioned a number of unfortunate minor injuries and poor Jane Kennedy ended up with multiple penetrations of the backside by a number of pricks. But now, safely back at the hotel, pricks removed, sunburn treated and aching muscles aching, the team are off to refuel for tomorrow’s epic adventure.
This swim blog was bought to you in association with Pinky & Perky - the classic brand which is being given a 21st Century makeover courtesy of PPC Enterprises. A new CGI series is due to launch on CBBC and BBC1 this autumn, followed by consumer products in spring 2009.