yikes- scary time. (For that, read exciting) The contract has arrived from the pilot. Deposit due-£1000 and all forms to fill. Then it gets logged with the CSPF (channel swimming pilot federation) and they send out their forms which require a full medical (anyone know of a doctor willing to lie?!?) after which it’s all systems go. If that’s not a spur to get on with the fund raising, I don’t know that will be…and funnily enough, just sent corporate sponsor letter to a lovely list of contacts in frighteningly grown up companies like Speedo and Powerbar! Who knows. Won’t know til you try.

Also, huge big up to Marlborough House for a stack of 60 pre-addressed envelopes to all the doctors’ surgeries in the county. Have to get printing more letters! Man there’s a lot of Dr practices in Somerset! That’s a lot of sick people! I’ve also got a contact number for an ME yoga group in Taunton that I’m hoping to go talk to.

All this side of the swim has been daunting for me, I will have to admit- I am really not wanting the frantic paperwork/background stuff to detract from my love of swimming. I love challenging myself and the process of getting a corporate letter together at all is pretty astounding for me, and the ‘journey’ has certainly become as big as whether I make the French coast; and yet I can’t help wishing someone would take all the stressful bits away. I know it is the ‘stressful bits’ that are giving rise to the most personal growth at this point, but it is leaps of faith on top of all the swimming, on top of life. Bleugh. Sounds like a whinge to me.

So, swam in Wimbleball at night and it was heaven. Loved being out there (night ramblers aside) in the peaceful quiet, inky black water. Trying to track the beating of wings on water as some ducks took flight, stargazing between clouds. I was well aware of the perceptual slip that occurs with distance in the dark; and heading back to the shore light we’d left really brought it home. It wasn’t so much a surprise as a confirmation- and a warning not to look ahead at the rising coastline …. EVER. Let it come to you.
All fine and well to say this sat in my cosy front room, but 10, 14- hell even 20hrs into a swim and I wonder if my philosophical bent will be as stoical and sure. I am curious to see how I cope. Actually, relishing the thought of going beyond the boundaries of normal convention to test that out. Bit like the ‘attitan’ in the monastery.

In Thailand, whilst studying meditation in the monastery, you eneter into retreat which means you’re going to be focussing on practicing meditation as a priority over everythinbg else. You’re given daily meditative excercises to do – and a 10′ by 10′ room to stay in. Me being me, when I’m told to try to do nothing but meditate, I figure- why not see how much you can meditate- and do nothing but- for 17hrs a day. So, after you go through various stages of trance and dedication, you reach the stage of pushing your levels of concentration and consciousness- as if you hadn’t already.

For 72hrs, without leaving your room- and without sleep, you meditate 1hr walking, 1hr sitting in repeat- your 2 meals a day are brought and left outside which you eat in silence then get up and carry on. It is an experience that cannot be fully described. The highs and lows, the confrontations that occur within your own mind as you struggle to tow the line- or rebel- and settle and fight all within those walls. The self learning, the battle of wills is something I’m glad I’ve experienced as I think I may need some of that tenacity.

But the scariest part for me is that it will be shared. There will be people there- yes, to support me- but nonetheless, there seeing me crack and struggle and be vulnerable and yes, conquer. But laying myself open like that is one of my biggest issues surrounding the swim. Training to cope woith cold, yup. Distance and stamina, love it. But knowing I will be a wreck when I get out in France and will need physical help is something I may have to seriously look at sport psychology wise. Not wholly comfortable with the idea of it yet. But I’m getting there.