I eventually made land in Ireland quite far north in Arklow after the big tides kept taking me up the coast. For every mile towards land I was making, I’d do 3 miles north. The going was slow and the logistics of getting from our anchorage each night to the start point became quite exhausting. On a few occasions, right after an actual tornado hit Ireland, we took 8 hours to make the start point due to bad wind and heavy waves. I was starting to feel, for the first time, really unwell. I was getting a lot colder than normal. Up till now I managed a good 90 minutes before I felt the cold and needed to eat. But now I was cold from the moment I got in the water. I still pushed on and was averaging around 10-15 miles per day but became quite reserved and quite on the boat. The crew knew I was struggling and not enjoying it. The two big crossing had really taken it out of me.
Kenton to the rescue. A really good friend of mine from South Africa decided to fly out and swim with me for a few days. If I’m honest, I was quite nervous. I wasn’t feeling good and really weak. If I was going to have a guest, who used to swim for South Africa, I really wanted to be on top form and show him a good time. Kent arrived and met us in Arklow and within minutes my mood was lifted. He fitted in perfectly even though he was sleeping on the pissy floor on the yacht. He was really excited to be with us and that energy gave me a much needed boost.
We did out first session together and smashed 20 miles towards Dublin. The weather was incredible and having Kent to pace me really upped my game. Not being a ‘real’ swimmer means I have no understanding of whether I am doing well or not. I have no one to compare myself too. Also it was great to finally compare styles in the water with someone who actually knows what they are doing. Turns out my style wasn’t all that bad but I need to make more out of the recovery side of my stroke. I keep my arm quite tense and rigid apparently. Still working on that.
Kent stayed with me for a few days and annoyingly they were the best 3 days we’ve had all swim. They were glass smooth, we had big tides and our anchorages were so calm you forgot you were on a boat. I say annoyingly because Kent is going to go home and tell everyone how easy this whole swimming thing is. Ha. I'm not really complaining though. I needed a bit of good luck.
Kent left us just North of Dublin just before I did my little piece for The One Show which was both exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. It’s always great to find out that people are getting something from this adventure as sharing it was an important goal from the outset.
From just north of Dublin things started to get really tough again. The high from Kent and all the BBC activity made way for some cold miserable days and really bumpy night's at sea. There was a huge area of slack water for about 50 miles. This meant I had no tide at all and was forced to battle through waves coming from all angels while small eddies pushed me all over the place. For some reason jellyfish seemed to like this area too and I got stung on the hands and face quite a few times. The one good thing though was the amount of phosphorescence that showed themselves at night. It was incredible. Millions of them running off my fingers with every stroke. I think it was potentially the most incredible experience of my life, the one I’ll tell repeatedly when I’m old and senile.
Mileage was slow and I was only averaging 5-7 miles per day and getting cold a lot. I then also came down with a small cold. It wasn’t bad enough to stop swimming but it meant I couldn't push it without coughing my lungs out. Drugged up I pushed on towards Northern Ireland.