20 May 2009

Dover Weekend Three: The Stacey and Kyle Show

After an exhausting weekend for John (driving back and forth to Dover TWICE in two days as well as feeding and caring for me) it was agreed that the role of “#1 Supporter” might best be shared by a larger group of folks. Fortunately, I have incredible friends who all volunteered to spend a weekend helping me put my leg through my pants post-swim! The first lucky contestant was Stacey. An speech and language therapist by trade, Stacey and I met at the Laos/Cambodia border last August while enduring a 14-hour bus ride with no air conditioning and no windows. That is, she is a trooper.

Because she’s a real person (as opposed to a student), she has “things.” Thankfully, one of those things was a car. Not quite sure what to expect, she waited with trepidation for me to complete my first of two swims on Saturday. Fortunately, it was the same routine as last weekend - one hour, go away for an hour and come back for another hour. The shivering was about the norm, though I do think it took Stacey by surprise. “Oh my gosh, you really shake, don’t you?” Still, she was phenomenal - pouring cocoa, cheering me on, carrying my towel down to the water...just great!

Sunday’s swim, however, was quite the experience. We were supposed to do two hours or “as long as you can last.” Basically, a max-out swim at peek effort/stamina/ability to be as cold as possible without dying. I lasted 82 minutes, which was longer than some and not as long as others. Why did I come in? To begin with, conditions were miserable. It was windy and raining. Waves were literally CRASHING out at sea. The swells were at least 3 feet, which meant there was quite a bobbing situation. Basically, it was ROUGH. I came in, however, because I could no longer figure out what time it was. That is, I knew I got in the water at 9:55am on my watch and I knew that two hours would be 11:55am. I floated there staring at the current time, 11:17am, but could not for the life of me figure out how long I had been in or how much longer I was supposed to stay in. It felt similar to my post-Dengue, unable to think stage of existence. Unable to compute basic time math I thought to myself, “I should probably get out of the water.” Upon surfacing the grease guy swooped me up and slid on my flip flops while patting me on the back and shouting, “great job! Great job! You knew your body. You knew it was time. Well done!”

I was so confused. Stacey basically carried me to my clothes and within minutes she and the other Channel “Mom” were putting on my shirt and sweatshirt, sticking their arms up the legs of my pants and pulling my feet through and patting me top to bottom asking me simple questions that seemed a little bit difficult at the time. Fortunately, I was fairly cognitive. We raced to the car, where I sipped some cocoa and filmed another rather entertaining video (see tomorrow’s blog) to keep everyone abreast of this whole experience.

The swims aside, we had a lovely weekend trekking along the White Cliffs, wandering through endless fields of rapeseed, stopping off in the tiniest of English villages and dining in genuine country pubs. Oh, and we stayed in the most adorable B&B I’ve ever seen - The Maison Deau. So while the swimming itself is excruciating, the weekly escape from London is a welcome addition to my routine. Plus, the English countryside is DIVINE. Perfect. Wonderful. Just like you’d imagine it in a fairy tale. Onward to week four!


Kyle Taylor

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