Here we go again!
Back in the city of the Tribesmen on the banks of the Corrib for the annual Frances Thornton Galway Bay Swim, to be held this coming Saturday.
Still suffering from jetlag after the long haul from Sydney, arriving chez the parents in Galway on Friday evening. Transiting through Dubai on the way, saw a chap reading the New York Times with a screaming headline about the shooting down of Malaysian Flight MH17, just as surfmuppet and wife are about to board for the final leg to Dublin. Quick check of the flight path on the thingamajig screen on the back of the headrest of the seat in front confirms we’re travelling south of the war zone so hefty sigh of relief. The only sigh of relief as the muppet squeezes his ample carcass into one of the middle seats in the middle aisle for the final eight hours of torture to Dublin.
Must confess to being a little bit underdone this year compared to last year. Then, three months solid training with four pool sessions a week followed by a long swim on Saturdays with the bull sharks in Sydney Harbour, the tiger sharks in Botany Bay and the great whites off Bondi, saw our erstwhile aquanaut in tip top condition as he plowed through to the finish in just under four hours, getting faster and faster as the diving platform of Blackrock in Salthill loomed up out of the edge of the ocean like the turret of a U-Boat back in the day.
This year, alas dear readers, the muppet has not been so diligent.
Despite the urging, the coaxing, the entreaties of coach Vlad, ably assisted by coaches Charm, Martin and lately Victor, which eventually turned into threats, taunting and slanderous and scurrilous accusations of being a total bludger, the muppet limped through training and most Saturdays instead of being in the ocean with the rest of the squad, could be found sitting in his car outside a Coles or Woolworths supermarket stuffing his face with bars of chocolate and tubs of ice-cream while watching episodes of Famous Rap Battles in History on YouTube.
He confesses now to his millions of readers that this, indeed, was not a good idea. In fact, it was a very bad idea. And five days out from the swim (actually four training days out from the swim – shriek!), fesses up that this was a truly bad idea. Any kids reading this epithet, please do what your swim coach tells you to do and don’t be a muppet!
Anyway, as they say, it is what it is.
Joined about 30 of the race field last Sunday for a training swim, 1030hrs kickoff at Blackrock. Almost all in wetsuits, except for four half eejits including yours truly. Andy, aka The Rooster, an English and Rottnest Island Channel veteran, gave us our orders for the day – down the bay to the fifth buoy (1km), sharp right turn off into the bay to the buoy at Fogla (another 1km), then regroup and back again to Blackrock (another 1km). The tide was filling and a westerly wind was kicking up a nice bit of chop.
All leap into the water – surfmuppet gets dead jealous of all the dudes and dudettes in wetties as the cold Atlantic tightens her loving grip on his already shriveled gonads. And they’re off! (the swimmers, not the gonads).
Down the bay we thrash and flail, the muppet keeping up with the back markers of the wettie brigade. The water is about 17/18 degrees and so after a few minutes it’s not bad at all. While the warmth of a wettie would be good, the real reason the muppet wants one is to get those damn hips and legs up high in the water, reduce drag and thus scream along down the bay like a juiced up sea leopard instead of dragging his sorry ass along like a floating brick.
We turn at the fifth buoy, face out into the bay, the rocky hills of the Clare coast in the distance and the laughing is over. The rising tide and the wind is driving a dirty little scut of a chop which is getting bigger by the minute so it’s dig deep for the miners, shorten the stroke and punch on. Battle it out with a couple of wetties with matching yellow caps and get plenty of practice trying to sight the buoy of Fogla in the bouncing sea.
Spot it outlined against the grey granite of the Clare hills in the background, a black stick bobbing up and down in the murky green water. There’s a figure on it! Yes, it’s the Rooster, resplendid in blue Speedos and yellow cap, standing on the buoy like Captain Ahab, exhorting his troops onwards. He stops a converging group of swimmers, including the muppet, and we get our orders from him to aim to the left of the diving platform, off up into the golf course, as the tide and the wind are strong enough now to blow you back down the bay if you swim straight for it.
With “Onwards me hearties” ringing in our ears from Rooster, our gang sets off for the final K. Muppet as usual doesn’t listen and soon finds himself drifting off down the bay. Course correction and starts tacking into the chop, then parallel to it, back into it, etc. Soon we’re pulling up to the U-Boat conning tower, avoiding the throngs of kids bomb diving off the high platform. Mick, another swimmer, asks for volunteers to go down the bay again and the muppet, conscious of his disgraceful lack of sea time, agrees and we pile in another 2-3 k’s up and down. Coming back up the bay is a long slog with the tide, wind and chop dishing out the punishment but the sun is out and climbing up the ladder onto Blackrock platform at the end, it all seems worthwhile.
Now it’s time for that delicious Galway piece of culinary delight, a punnet of curried chips at Salt n Peppers chip shop on the prom. Doesn’t get any better than that!
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