Double Windermere conquered! You don't complete or finish epic swims, you conquer them! Yesterday I swam the 22 miles double length of Lake Windermere in 13 hours and 34 minutes.
I set off at 7am from Waterhead with my pilot Dave Carroll and crew Colin Hill, waved off by Lizzie, 2 seagulls and a stray dog. Everyone else was still asleep. The air temperature was a balmy 11C but the water was 16C which rose to 18C in places but was 17C for most of the swim.
I started strongly going through 6 miles in around 3 hours but then the mirror like complexion of the lake changed as we turned into a strong headwind and short choppy waves. These slowed my progress for the next 4 miles and I found this section of the swim pretty hard work as it was difficult to establish a stroke pattern. Lizzie was waiting for me at Fell Foot and this thought kept my going as by this stage I was really looking forward to seeing her. After 6 hours 45 minutes I reached the jetty where Lizzie waited. I floated about there for a few minutes enjoying a banana and a drink.
The swim back was psychologically easier as every stroke took me closer to the finish. Conditions were better and I made reasonable progress. After mile 13 I became obsessed with food as my body was very depleted and I was sick of the sight of jaffa cakes and bananas. I was desparate for a scone with jam, hot chips and a cup of tomato soup! Sadly none of the above were on board the boat but Dave and Colin gave me a cheese and beetroot sammie, an eccles cake, some rice pudding and lovely yogurt drink. Now dear reader, try eating any of these treading water when you are very cold and exhausted. Next time you are at the pool, take your lunch, jump in the deep end and try to eat it. This food really revived me and I powered on to the finish.
I reached Waterhead at 26 minutes to 9, pitch black and with a tasteful green light flashing on my goggles. Lovely Lizzie was there and was joined by 2 complete strangers who wanted to photograph the monster emerging from the deep. Embarrassingly, as I stood up after 13 and a half hours, I fell straight over and it took 4 or 5 attempts to stay upright. The shivering then started, although I did get my warm clothes on very quickly. Lizzie gave me a warmish pastie to eat. Just right.
After a long, long soak in a hot bath, I finally got the feeling back into my limbs and hit the sack. Amazingly, although I was totally exhausted I hardly slept a wink as my arms started to ache and I could not get comfortable. At 3 in the morning I had a filled roll. I have never typed that before.
There are many people that I have to thank. Lizzie is just amazing, so supportive, so patient. What a lucky man I am. Kate, Doug and Tabby have supported me throughout and their enthusiasm and love has driven me on. Vicci and Roger are stars and have always believed in me. Many friends and family have played vital roles and I thank you all.
Many thanks to all at Votive Leadership for their fantastic support. http://www.votiveleadership.com/
Dave and Colin were incredible yesterday, the Langdale Chase Hotel was superb and has the best scones ever. It is worth driving there just to have 1. I would also like to thank my parents, although I could have done with another 3 inches.
Photos to come.
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