The tricky cold bollock stage

Well… was hoping the weather would be better, but I’m told yesterday’s 3ft waves are subsiding. 

Fellow swimmer Andrew Hudson’s just sent me this photo of what the Solent looks like now:

uh oh

Apparently there’s a swell left from yesterday’s big waves and it’s still choppy in the middle. (Don’t think swell means good.) The canoeists accompanying us tomorrow are discussing conditions right now, as they can’t go out if they’ll keep capsizing. So fingers crossed! The 12 Bestival swimmers should be setting off from GAFIRS lifeboat station, Stokes Bay, Gosport at 11.30AM tomorrow, or if it’s still too choppy, Friday at 12.30PM.

(UPDATE: SWIM’S ON FOR TOMORROW!!!!)

So I should be in my wetsuit about 11AM tomorrow , having handed my canoeist a carrier bag with my asthma spray, a high energy drink or two and a packet of shark repellent. (£8.85 from Amazon. So it must work.)

(You thought I was joking, Andrew!)

Then I’ll be running into the waves, complaining about how cold the water is for a bit, until I get past the tricky cold bollock stage. At which point it’ll be OK as I’ll still be able to stand up for a bit, then, a few steps later, it’s time to swim! Four miles. To Ryde Westsands.

As well as the kayaks, there’ll be a mother ship (called Alice, apparently) driven by Alan who will be communicating with the coastguard, Southampton VHS and the Queens Harbour master, Portsmouth. They in turn inform all the other mariners including ferry and shipping companies as we swim through the busy shipping lane that serves Portsmouth and Southampton docks. And I get a tap on the shoulder with a canoe stick if any shipping’s coming through.

I’ve been told we can’t get insurance for the sea bit, but we are insured for the shore bit. Which will be reassuring as I cross the road to the treacherously pebbly beach. 

So hopefully the gusty South Westerly winds blowing waves against us as we swim to the Isle of Wight will chillax a little bit.

And here’s what you can do:

At 11.30AM tomorrow, please, please, please, please, if you’re anywhere BUT the Isle of Wight, please turn South to face the Isle of Wight, take a deep breath. And then blow as hard as you can. 

(If you live on the Isle of Wight, you suck. Yes you do.) 

I’m no Michael Fish, but there must be a small chance that will dampen the wind down, and if not, at least I might get off slightly at the thought of everybody blowing me.

What else you can do: http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN 
– Please help me help Families Against Neuroblastoma help children all over the country battling our deadliest childhood cancer. It needn’t be. Every little bit really counts, and it just takes a minute to click on the link above and help. So please pass the link on!

I’ll be thinking of Ashley Hyde’s family tomorrow (see my previous post below) who have tirelessly fundraised for FAN. Brave Star Wars fan Ashley sadly lost his final battle against Neuroblastoma, aged 7, one year ago, on September 8, 2010.  May the force be with you, Ashley!

Will keep you posted,

Slightlylessfatboyswim x

Page 3 Swimwear Shots

The stroke known as Front crawl was first glimpsed in this country in 1844, in a competitive swim between some British champs and two visiting Native American swimmers named Flying Gull and Tobacco.

While the Brits swam their customary gentlemanly breast stroke, Flying Gull and Tobacco beat them every time with their bizarre swimming technique.

A newspaper report moaned: ‘Their style of swimming is totally non-European. They lash the water violently with their arms, like the sails of a windmill, and beat downwards with their feet, blowing with force, and forming grotesque antics.’ And for at least another 30 years Victorians refused to have anything to do with the North American’s technique, which they branded ‘barbaric’ and ‘ungentlemanly.’

Front crawl’s come a long way since then. But for me, the apotheosis of ‘ungentlemanly’ and ‘grotesque antics’ will be witnessed this Thursday, as I paddle across the Solent towards Bestival. (With probably loads more ‘grotesque antics’ when I get there too!)

I’m literally wetting my wetsuit at the increasingly hysterical weather forecast for Thursday: http://www.metcheck.com/V40/UK/FREE/dayforecast.asp?zipcode=Ryde&day=3

(enormous winds & gusts against us as we set out towards Ryde. WTF!)

So I may indeed be ‘lashing violently’ before I even dip toe in water.

The other important target I’ve yet to reach is my fundraising for childhood cancer charity Families Against Neuroblastoma.

I’m only £50 off my target – you could push me over today : http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

Been nice knowing you,

Ben x

PS: Since the last list of weird search engine referrals to this blog, apparently these typed in searches have stumbled upon it too:

    • fat wetsuit dude

    • wetsuit for woman fetish
    • huge jellyfish sting
    • ben belblum superjournalist and swimmer (this one I like… apart from the Ed Millibandish spelling of my name)
    • the shark from jaws where is it now? (is Google a bit broken?)
  • sock fetish dvds
  • ass swim pic
  • swimming costumes for fat boys
  • wetsuit triathlon fetish

and many, many more too disturbing to mention…though while you’re all here, feel free to sponsor us too:

http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

PPS: If you really like photos of guys in wetsuits all that much, there’s a page three swimwear shot of me and fellow Bestival swimmer Andrew Hudson today. Page three of the Guardian G2 section, that is! Along with some advice I got from Basement Jaxx’s Simon Ratcliffe who did the swim last year: http://gu.com/p/3xjbv Simon told me he missed the freezing cold lido at 7.30am with all the eccentric characters you get ploughing across the chilly water so much that he had to do another swim this summer, the Hellespont in Turkey – from Europe to Asia. Not sure if I’ll feel the same after Thursday…

all going swimmingly…

Just over two weeks to go and do I feel ready to swim the Solent?

Well … I’ve sprung a leak in my gimpsuit – I mean wetsuit – and had to send it back… So I might now have to actually invest in some goosefat if it doesn’t return in time. (Wonder if that will actually keep me warm or just make me taste better for sharks?) As a vegetarian, is olive oil a passable alternative to goose fat?

I’ve swum 4k (need to get up to 6K) at the lido and it took two and a half hours- far too long. Though I did learn a valuable lesson: Swimming in a less than tepid lido after eating an extra-hot vindaloo-strength prawn curry the night before isn’t the best idea. Not unless you want to wind-surf. Every 20 or so lengths I had to run to the toilet. (If my swimsuit gets fixed in time for my swim2bestival, and I’m zipped into it I wonder what am I meant to do if I need a toilet half way across? Hold onto a boat and hastily peel myself out?) I’ve got a stinking cold from swimming in freezing lidos, snot’s pouring onto the keyboard as I type.

I’m being overtaken by pensioners in the fastlane in the swimming pool. And every other swimmer’s offered me conflicting advice about how I should be swimming. Longer strokes. Shorter strokes. Elbows higher. Hands lower. Hands to the side. Don’t kick your legs- just use them for balance. Kick your legs 6 times per stroke. Everybody suddenly seems to know a lot more about swimming than me.

Solent / isle of Wight

Had a practice swim in Selsey, Sussex last weekend, and it was rather wavy to say the least. The Isle of Wight looks a lot further away from here, and it certainly seemed so, as every time I looked at it I got a mouthful of salty wave, and a faceful of seaweed. It was like swimming through a stormy cup of miso soup. Gone cold.

As if having to wear a wetsuit isn’t bad enough, I’ve been told to wear a swimcap. For visibility. My own – to see through my shaggy hair. And other boats/windsurfers etc who might mistake me for the sea as I splash about ineffectually.

charity swim to isle of wight

that's stray seaweed around my neck

They won’t be able to miss me now with my banana-coloured ill-fitting head condom.

So just over two weeks to go and I guess I feel as ready as ever. Which is a lot less ready than I hoped I’d feel by now!!!

Re: fundraising: I’m 2/3 of the way there- so thank you very much everyone who’s kindly sponsored me and suppported me thus far! And anyone that hasn’t yet please click on:

http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

-It takes just a minute & will help FAN save children with Britain’s most dangerous childhood cancer- Neuroblastoma.

Yours swimmingly,

Slightlylessfatboyswims x