Breaking Wind

It’s Saturday. It’s sunny and calm. I have to drive to the recycling depot and then go on an errand. The errand being a 3.5 KM swim from Cahore South (Old Bawn) to Balinoulart Beach.

According to windguru, it’s given for mixed weather in Dublin while Wexford’s outlook is brighter. Even when leaving Dublin, the DJ on Radio Nova was ominously proselytising about impending hailstones. It was like he was directing a personal wave of bad vibes in my direction as I began to doubt the blue skies I could see in the distant South. He seemed to be almost joyous in his predictions as if he was predicting a tsunami and if we heeded, he would feel responsible that he saved us.

There were no Gardaí at the County lines either but there were a phenomenal number of bollards on the motorway. I guessed the Gardaí had been diverted to Bray as most the motorway traffic was heading off to the town via the Shankill roundabout. More common sense whereby Bray was potentially going to be a hotbed of COVID as greater Dublin descends for an ice cream on the prom. Driving on through Wicklow, I switched the repeating Fleetwood Mac anthems on the radio for the tranquility of Lyric FM.

It took two and a half hours to get to base camp which was the car park of Balinoulart. As you approach the area, there are fields of fantastic windmills. I had mentioned them the last day, but now I was studying them carefully as the landscape was unfamiliar and they seemed to be a reliable point of reference for the swim. Almost coincidently, the last windmill was beside the finish point and was broken, thus stationary. All the other windmills were gently rotating and making the cups of tea needed nationally to listen to the GAA on the radio.

The cycle was longer today and quite hilly, but without any pressing deadlines, I took it at my own pace. I think absent mindedly I climbed a hill or two in top gear which is a testiment to my improving fitness. And while windguru had predicted an air temperature of 10 degrees, it was actually 17 (according to the car), which is tantemount to a nice summer’s day. The road winded and my turn to Cahore South was signalled by a picturesque church with a peaceful graveyard catching the sun between trees.

Final assessment of the swim indicated that I only had to swim the length of a windfarm. I didnt know if I would have the much considered current in my favour and I had given an hour and a half estimate for the swim before I was due to ring home and confirm all was safe. I had made note of other landmarks at the finish which were not as apparent, but still there was an element of the great unknown about the whole thing.

Once in the water, it was like flowing down a river. It felt fantastic as I overtook families out walking dogs. The revolving of the windmills made for the perspective that I was really motoring. But because there was no deliniated markings of the finish point on the horizon, I didn’t know how far was the 3.5 KM distance. Every time I stopped, I could feel the flow nudging me onwards. My goggles were giving trouble so I began wondering about the mundanities of buying new goggles (first world problems , I know). There was a few times were I was brought into knee deep water by the small waves but a couple of shunts and I was back at chest depth.

The finish came quickly. The few times I stopped, I made a note of the time in the swim but didn’t hang around due to the paranoia of getting cold. The paranoia stemmed from the fact that this was new territory for me (swimming distance in early May), however I could walk up on the beach at any point, and I needed to learn what the boundaries (or possibilities) were. In the end, I completed the distance in under 50 minutes. With gloves and socks, that is a very fast time for the official 3.6 KM according to Google Earth. The credit goes to the flow mostly though. Under these conditions, I could comfortably swim twice the distance the next time out.

I would at this point just like to thank all my very generous peers, who donated to my friend’s medical treatment. It is a great thing you have done and she is responding well to the treatment.

I am looking forward to the next swim, where I fear navigation may be comparible to negotiating the Gobi desert!

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