So when I mentioned this idea to my contacts at Planets (www.planetscharity.org.uk) as a potential fundraiser, I was pleasantly surprised that their immediate response was “great idea, and we know someone who has done this before who would be willing to give you some advice”. Turns out that the inaugural event that kick started the Planets Charity was “The Great Wight Attack”. And so last night just before the first snow of the year arrived down south found me in a Hampshire pub picking the brains of the really affable Martyn. At the outset I had planned to undertake the whole organization of this swim for myself but having established what a huge logistical exercise that would be and that there were several pre organized versions, as you know we have opted to join in the Wild West Swim. Martyn’s first comment on that aspect was “Good call, that way you can concentrate on the really important bit which is your preparation”.
So I arrived at Martyn’s suggested venue on time and then had a thought. This is a huge pub and the only pictures I’ve ever seen of him he is wearing full wetsuit and swim hat, how will I recognize him. I needn’t have worried (no he wasn’t sitting there in a full wetsuit), the pub was fairly quiet and we found one another easily. It was a really useful evening, we talked over training, breathing, drinking and I took away a whole load of lessons. Martyn gave me plenty of suggestions, including “make sure you over train, this is no time for winging it” (which is my usual technique, it has to be said). He was also really clear on the importance of getting into some open water as soon as possible. We talked about wetsuits (and I admitted that mine is still bone dry and on its hanger), chafing and lubrication. Sighting (keeping on course), hand signals and about how different it is in open water to being in a pool. Then he casually dropped into the conversation “on the way back” which kind of surprised me. Turns out that his event had been a swim to the island, a run around the Island (all 65 miles) and then a swim back. Made me glad we are just doing the single leg. Finally having shared with me stories of mouths full of seaweed and salty water a huge beam came over his face (he showed me a picture of him finishing) and he said, “it’s a really major undertaking, but it was one of the high lights of my experiences and I am a little envious of you and would love to do it again”.
Job done, thanks Martyn for your time and the tips, now I’m off to do a bit of work on my breathing technique.