Porthcawl to Devon 23/8/23
Swim time: 10hrs 26mins 3 seconds
Start: Sandy Bay Porthcawl
Finish: Heddons Mouth, Devon
Observer: Ros Edmonds
Swim Crew: Dominic Lock
Pilot: Aston Gridrod
Ratified by the BCSA. This completes the Original Triple Crown for Graham.
Graham Lock Porthcawl – Glenthone 23 August 2023
This swim was all about the feeds!
When I swam competitively as a boy, I was lectured that it wasn’t a good idea to eat within an hour of swimming, because there was a danger of tummy cramping and it could result in drowning! Probably still good advice.
I had been given the opportunity to meet the support vessel at Swansea at 0715 or Porthcawl at 0815. Porthcawl being nearer to Brighton, Dominic my oldest son and I plumped for that, but it still meant leaving the house at 0400 - it was going to be a long day.
The night before, I followed my usual routine of mixing up double strength maltodextrin in old coke bottles and putting my hot water flasks out ready to fill with boiling water in the morning. Tinned peaches, jelly cubes and a banana were all thrown in. I dread the feeding on swims – stopping to feed throws my stroke and I can’t seem to get the feeds down – they usually make me sick. To combat that I use full fat coke. Having it warm and flat settles my stomach and saved a previous swim.
On arrival in Porthcawl, we discovered that our main hot water flask had fallen over in the car and pretty much emptied itself into the boot of the car. Dominic’s warm jumper had done a good job of soaking it up. I wasn’t too worried though, because I had a spare jumper for him that I wasn’t going to need in the water and we had been told that there would be hot water making facilities on board the support boat. Nevertheless, Dominic went off to the shop to get some water, while I stripped off in the car park to put sun block on. A few passing grannies wondered what on earth I was doing in my speedos!
On heading over to the harbour to meet up with the boat helm, crew and official observer, Ros. Bad news, plans had changed and I was to be swimming alongside a rib, with no hot water making facilities. Oh dear. Well, at least we had some water.
Ros asked about the feeding plan – she must have thought we were a right pair of jokers, because we had two plans from previous swims and we were intending to use one of them, but adapted slightly because I wanted to avoid any feeds until two hours into the swim.
It didn’t take long for the feeds to give me stomach pains so we went completely off plan after a few feeds. Dominic took this in his stride and gave me what I needed exactly to schedule – in fact, I could tell the time of day and the length of time in the water from the number and timing of feeds.
After the feed at 9 hours 30 mins into the swim I remember asking the helm whether it would be the last feed – I hoped so - he confirmed that it would depend on how quickly I could get into the shore. As it turned out, it was indeed the last feed, but that was because Dominic had the good sense to skip any further feeds so that I could push on, and after nearly ten and a half hours of swimming I touched the rocks in Devon.
The worst part of the day was still to come – a full throttle rib ride back to the start. The feeds were now trying to make a reappearance. But, they were just about held down for the journey back to Brighton, arriving home in the early hours after night after navigating road closures on the M4, M3, M25 and A23.
Yes, our predictions were right - it was a long day!