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It is now the 3rd June 2016 and I am sitting here with a week to go until the window for our EPIC swim opens…  I am going to try to portray the magnitude of my journey and my feelings as we approach D Day! So…

 

How Do I Feel?

 

I have a mixture of emotions rolling around at the moment… I am excited, honoured, proud, nervous all at the same time. I am honoured to have been asked… I am a late arrival to the team, sadly due to another team member having a back injury so my preparation has been a little late in the making. I have been a second reserve for a while but on 18th March this year I received a message asking if I would mind being bumped up to the main team… I was honoured to say the least as this swim is no mean feat! However, I have had little time in the cold water as although I have swum through the winter in the past… for FUN!! and to prepare for other OW swims, this year my cold water exposure has been limited… but, as soon as I got that call… I was on it… throwing myself in the lake as often as I could… On my first swim at Activities Away I went in suited but removed it after a few laps and managed a good distance in 7.6 degrees skins (no wetsuit) so this gave me the confidence that I needed to get to where I needed to be… I kept getting in as often as I could and quickly the water temperature climbed, however my confidence took a set back on 2nd May when a few of us attempted a qualifier. Sadly it was a really windy, cold day… The water was 10 degrees and we had to attempt 2 hours skins followed by at least an hour but less that 12 hours out followed by a further 1 hour swim… I got in and lasted just shy of an hour before the elements took hold and I was on the verge of Hypothermia… I can honestly say that I have never been so cold but it taught me some valuable lessons even if it did knock my confidence but in true Wookey style, I was back in the following weekend for a 12 hour challenge… A mile an hour for 12 hours, overnight in the lake at Activities Away with Paul Fowler and 100% Swimming. This was a great event and a great way to get some endurance swimming in and although the water was warmer than the North Channel will be, the repeated exposure with limited rest was great training… I got to 7 hours and repetitive strain injuries and the fact that my arms did not want to turn anymore stopped play, but my mission that day was accomplished and my confidence was restored… Since then, I have continued to get in the lakes at Whisby and Tallington where apparently I have been the topic of conversation in the mens changing rooms with folk asking who that mad woman is that gets in and swims without a wetsuit… It does make me chuckle… I love this sport and there is no better therapy than getting into the open water and swimming to wash all those daily troubles and worries away…

 

Where did my Journey start?

 

I have by no means always been a swimmer… I have my 10m certificate somewhere which I got at about the age of 12… I didn’t grow up with easy access to clubs and sport didn’t really feature until I decided that I wanted to join the Forces so I had to get run fit… I was never good at that either, I managed to pass the entrance tests but I was never fast… Always a plodder and that still stands… I wasn’t too bad at throwing the discus or Judo. I was actually crowned the Army Ladies Judo Champion in 1990! I also took part in Badminton, Volleyball and some team sports. I enjoyed the whole ethos of Sport and it also gave me time off work!! Being in the forces taught me many life skills including perseverance, endurance and never giving up… All of these qualities were instilled in me and are very much part of my make up even now… 20 years after leaving the Army… So where did my swimming start? My daughter, Kayleigh Adams started swimming in 2009 and so I have spent a good number of years watching from the balcony whilst having a coffee and a catch up with other parents. The turning point for me was March 2010. Having lived with Kidney disease pretty much all my life, I took a turn for the worse and my kidneys failed. I was rushed to Leicester where thankfully my kidneys were salvaged and with good aftercare and a good drug regime, I am able to carry on relatively normally. Leicester Renal Unit really helped me and I wanted to give something back so I entered a triathlon to raise money so I had to get swimming… I have never really looked back and 5 years later, I am probably fitter than I ever have been and loving the ‘good feeling’ that swimming in open water and exercise generally gives me… As well as the triathlons that I completed, in 2013, I took 2 x relay teams of Army Cadets swimming across the English Channel, took part in the Dart 10k and have since completed other events whilst watching my daughter compete to a high standard in Triathlon too. Sport is a MASSIVE part of my life now and I enjoy passing that love onto others which I do through running a Triathlon Club for Juniors (8-16yrs old) in Deeping. I love taking the youngsters to the lake and sharing the passion that I have for the open water to the next generation and I am hoping that this swim inspires others to take the plunge and take on the open water swimming adventures that there are to be had out there…

 

What will the next week hold?…

 

So with 1 week to go until D-Day, I shall start to get my kit packed… Our Team Leader Caroline will be picking that up on Tuesday, I shall be throwing myself into the lake a few more times and getting myself mentally prepared for the challenge that we will be facing. I shall also be praying that the water will get a little warmer as the weather has been against us for such an early swim… I am still excited, nervous and honoured and I am exceptionally proud to be a part of the Ocean Walker Ladies Relay Team that will be attempting the first all ladies 2 way relay crossing of the North Channel, the first of seven EPIC swims…

 

Thanks also to the following people… My fellow team members for making me feel so welcome, my family for supporting me particularly Kayleigh (my daughter) and her boyfriend Kurt who have joined me in a couple of swims (although, I do watch them briefly as they zoom past!), Paul Fowler who has helped me with improving my stroke efficiency and my work who have given me time off in term time to allow me to take part…

 

Finally, thank you all for reading and thank you Adam for reminding me to ‘Never Give Up on My Dreams!’!!

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