Last year at this same race I had overcome many demons to complete and this year I thought it would be better. I arrived at the beach and the sea was quite choppy. I had my reservations but decided to go for it anyway. Jenny was doing it for her first time and we agreed we would swim together and we had a plan. Swim 15 strokes check where each other were and carry on. So after starting I found it quite difficult to get into it for a while and then I managed to get into my stroke. I kept Jenny in my sights. I started to feel quite wheezy and started to take a few more breathers. I felt like it was a mission to get to each buoy the waves were so big it was hard to sight anything. We normally get to the island and I thought I could have a breather but as the sea was so rough the boats didn't deploy people on the island so we had to get to the green buoy and turn around immediately. The sea was becoming rougher and the waves were HUGE. I signaled to the canoe man and had a quick breather, I could see Jenny saying get around the buoy I'll wait for you. The waves here were the highest and as I tried to get around the buoy it was moving all over the place and nearly took me out. I really started to get a little scared and this wasn't helping my breathing, I felt like a rag doll being battered around. I called the safety boat over and they hung on to me whilst I tried to get my breathing under control. At this point I did not want to give up... I never give up...... so I left the boat with the words in my ears " we will follow you we are watching out for you"
I was worried about Jenny at this point thinking so I tried again...... I seemed to be miles away from the buoys and I was wheezing again and at this point I decided that I just couldn't cope with it. I did something that I thought I would never do and I gave in. OOOO you cannot imagine how deflated I felt.... how I had finally in a lifetime let something beat me. (crying as I write this now) The guy in the canoe told me to wrap my legs around the boat and he tried to get me to the life boat. I didn't like lying backwards in the water and got mouthfuls of water so was happy when they dragged me into the a speed boat. To add insult to injury I had to transfer boats so they held the boats together and basically threw me into the coast guards boat and I landed rather ungracefully. I was still wheezing like a goodun at this point. They took me to the other side of the jetty and dumped me off at the beach. That was the hardest walk of my life walking up the beach with my head down low fighting back the tears..... my chest was so tight and crying wasn't going to help. People were calling my name checking I was OK and I just wanted to get to my inhaler in my bag.
I waited at the shore for Jenny to come in and I was so relieved that she made it back safe. I could see the emotion in her face as she finished and I think we were both fighting back the tears. Well done Jenny.
I went back to the car feeling very emotional and reflective. This is the first time that I have let an attack stop me. On reflection I think the waves just got the better of me and it scared me which given the breathing difficulties made it worse. After the event, I had heard that many didn't even start due to the conditions and few of them got so far then also made the decision to stop. I was told that this was the roughest year that it had been.
I tried... it beat me .... I learnt a bit about myself and however much I beat myself up about it... I can learn from the experience and I finally put my health and safety first. meschee 1- steart island 1. Next year I will be returning to lay that ghost to rest. Lesson learnt... take the inhaler in the water and least then I can carry on and never admit defeat.