On Saturday, my Facebook friend Helena Martins picked us up at our hotel and generously provided a lift to Dover. She's doing a relay in late summer and training for a solo in 2016. She's also a brilliant Internet technologist and is deaf, but can hear thanks to the modern miracle of cochlear implants. Maybe because of her hearing loss, she's one of those wonderful people who lives out loud -- going after achievements, helping others and sharing her bright light and laughter with everyone she meets.
We enjoyed some sightseeing, visiting Varne Ridge before dropping off our bags at our rented flat. We are staying at Castle View, which I highly recommend if you are staying in Dover. We can see France from our front window. Literally. And we have a gorgeous view of Castle Dover from our bedroom. It's at the top of the tallest hill in Dover -- a mile long hill I've come to know very well on my treks up and down to the beach. Good for training.
We headed down to the beach for my first swim. It was cold, but I expected that. I was surprised at the high salinity of the water. You couldn't sink in that harbor if you were wearing cement boots. It didn't take long to get into the groove, one arm over the other, like I've done thousands or millions of times. I was a little stiff from the long plane ride and our trekking around London the day before, but still OK. Thankfully, all the parts seem to be in working order.
As we were tooling along, who should I bump into but Sam Jones and Zoe Sadler, two of the first swimmers I met online while investigating the English Channel through the Marathon Swimmers Forum and facebook. It was like getting together with old friends who I hadn't seen in awhile. Absolutely wonderful.
I swam for about 40 minutes, then dried off and we were off again. Helena took us to a charming beachside restaurant where we dug into fresh salads, soup and sandwiches. Paul had fish and chips. It had to be done.
Helena stayed overnight with us for our swim with Freda and the crew on Sunday. I wondered, and worried, if Freda might give me a 6-hour swim. Surely, she wouldn't do that so close to my EC window, would she?