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

diving fist first

One of the school mums has been angrily dragging me to the Finchley Lido in disgust at my pedestrian attitude to my swimming training.

‘What stroke do you call that?’ my school-gate-mate despairs as I struggle to keep up.

‘Um.. Front crawl? Long stroke.. Long crawl? Sea swimming. I don’t know? Freestyling, man, it’s meant to stop me sinking. Help me float. Make me more efficient.’

‘Well. It’s f*****g slow.’

At least now the summer holidays have started I won’t have to dodge all the dive-bombing school swimming trips.

They take up half the pool. AND I bet they haven’t ALL gone to the toilet before diving in.

And where are their verruca socks? When I went swimming as a schoolboy, statistically one or two kids in each class had to endure the shameful stigma of wearing a verruca sock.

in the old days

Now a whole school and not even one sock. Verrucas haven’t been eradicated. You can still buy the latex socks. I checked on google. What’s wrong with people? They’re happy to look like dicks travelling to work wearing a facemask in case someone happens to sneeze swine flu into their gob. Yet they wouldn’t dream of sending their cheery brat to the swimming pool with a latex sock covering their verruca-encrusted foot to protect everyone else, – in case they get teased.

When I grew up, parents enjoyed dressing you in shameful stuff that would get you teased. They insisted on it. OR was that just my experience…

I guess there’s only one item of swimwear that I find as scary a verruca sock, and that’s the FISTGLOVE ™.

‘The WHAT?’ I asked my fellow Swim2Bestival swimmer Andrew, trying not to giggle like a schoolboy.

‘The FISTGLOVE ™’ explained Andrew, patiently, ‘ – when you wear it you can’t use your fingers, so it helps you practise using your whole body to power you through the water. I’ll just get them… I think they’re in the bedroom…’

Maybe not everyone is as smutty as me.

I hope not.

Though… Scarily,- according to wordpress, – this weekend two people came upon this blog having typed ‘wetsuits fetish boys’ into google. (- Um, maybe I should change that to ‘stumbled’ upon this blog.) So I’d better stop going on about FISTGLOVE ™.

However you’ve come across this blog, there’s just over a month left to please sponsor my swim to the Isle of Wight and help some really brave children with a lot worse to face than verruca socks (see previous posts) :

http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

Thanks,

Off to the pool with my FISTGLOVE ™,

Love,

Ben x

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Swimwear photos – as promised.

Woody concerned about his father

Sigh. So here are some swimwear photos as promised. And that’s the Isle of Wight in the background. Behind all the shipping.

Practising in the Solent was rather different than braving the gently-lapping crystal-clear waters of Ibiza last month, – where the only thing to worry about were ageing nudists on the beach – who seemed to be bending right over every time I came up for breath.

(What is it with naturists? They seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time bending right over, as if they’ve lost something very small in the sand that takes absolute ages to find. That’s not natural. That’s what my nine-year-old Rocky would refer to as pulling a moonie.)

I'll show you how it's done Dad

Anyway at least Rocky has finally stopped insisting on joining us on the 4 mile swim across to Bestival on the Isle of Wight, after swimming his heart out – and going backwards in the fast currents of the murky Solent.

He will be joining us by ferry on the day, as I feel it only right my boys see what may be their father’s final resting place.

We’ll be setting out just after midday on September 8 from GAFIR’S Lifeboat station, Portsmouth for this year’s event, hoping the tide will carry us to the left, then back in to land at Ryde on the Isle of Wight, rather than Zakynthos.

http://swim2bestival.blogspot.com/

The lifeboat guy looked less than impressed at my swiming prowess on this visit to the Solent. As we chatted, he looked me up and down, asking, ‘so are you a STRONG swimmer?’ ‘You’ve down this sort of thing BEFORE, right?’ Then as we parted his eyes went misty and he nodded ‘GOOD LUCK, MATE,’ in the sombre tone monkey keepers must’ve sent the first chimps into outer space with.

I was out of breath just struggling to squeeze into my wetsuit. My pal Andrew,- who’ll be doing the swim too, tried his best to hide his exasperation.

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Well I did promise swimsuit pix.

Eight weeks to go! There’s still time to sponsor me and help Families Against Neuroblastoma: http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN – splash the cash and I’ll post even more swimsuit photos!

And there’s still time to book tickets for Bestival and smugly appreciate the convenience of boat travel: www.bestival.net/

I’m off now for a serious sporting endeavour. School sports day and the dads’ race. Some of the dads were limbering up this morning and were bringing starting blocks and everything.

Wish me luck!

Ben x