Philocaly Trail: Day 3- Sheffield to Blythedale

I woke up early on Monday and the first thing I did was check my heart rate. It had already dropped by Sunday afternoon but I was still worried it may have shot up again. Thankfully it had normalized I was clear to swim. My voice was much better and today was a shorter day from Sheffield to Blythedale. Only 14km.

It is amazing how quickly your mindset shifts when doing an ocean swim. For weeks after my circumnavigation of Rapa Nui, anything more than 2km was a big ask for me. Now, just over 6 months later I was gearing up for multiple swims of over 10km each. It is all relative!

It was an early start and the team met at my house at 4am for a 6am swim start time.

Michelle dropped the crew at Tinley before taking Sarah and I to Christmas bay in Sheffield where we were to start swimming from. It was a pretty calm day, slightly overcast but no major wind.

As we set off at Christmas bay the only people around were fishermen on the rocks. I think they thought we were a bit mad but carried on their fishing as we swam past the fishing lines and rocks to get to backline and meet the boat. John offloaded the kayak and off we set. The water was a little warmer but there was very little sun so I felt a bit cold throughout the swim. The scenery was spectacular though and the visibility good. Jess from Blue Wilderness Shark adventures was on shark duty from the first feed which I found highly entertaining. As I stopped for my first feed, Jess jumped in with her wetsuit snorkel and goggles and started spotting for sharks. She did that every 30 minutes, every day for 5 more days. Getting in and out the launch boat is not an easy task and Jess did it in style always with a smile on her face. It is not fun sitting on a boat in the wind when you are cold and wet so I have huge respect for her and my safety swimmers for what they did to help keep me safe.

About 3 hours into the swim we swam past a magnificent reef with soft purple and green coral. It was stunning. I dived down to have a closer look but the current was strong against us and it was sapping too much energy away from me. At that point John was swimming next to me and I told him I could feel the counter current.

It felt exactly like my last mile of my very first channel crossing in Hawaii when we swam the last mile against the tidal pull on the reef. It was painfully slow and tiring. Time to move back into shore closer to back line and more in line with the gentle push of the brewing south west wind. We were close to Blythedale beach and my body started ceasing up. At 5km my lats had already started tightening up but when we hit the reef I got a second wind. This time, Sarah was swimming with me for the last 2km and John on the kayak next to me. I was cold, sore and the visibility got even worse. We hit the river water and it started to smell. My entire back was spasming including my stomach. Instead of swimming to the end of Blythedale beach as planned, we headed straight into the beach. I was only day 2 of the swim series and there was no point over exerting my failing body for the sake of 1km on the same stretch of beach. Michelle and a few of the trail walker supporters were at the beach waiting for us with towels and a specially made smoothie from the local hotel. The boat headed back to Tinley to spend another night and we headed to the hotel to have some soup before heading to pick up the team at Tinley and then home.

Recovery time again meant another massage from Angelika, an Epson salt bath and a dinner of weber chicken, baked potatoes and salad before an early night again.

Day 3 stats: 14.2km from Christmas bay in Sheffield to Blythedale main beach. Total time 3:45

Author: sarah