February 12, 2019
Andy did it, he completed the 2.5km swim around Ruby Island! Conditions weren’t favourable with wind creating choppy white capped waves. The brave Andy continued on when others would have given up and I am very proud of him for finishing. Below is a post-race overview written by Andy.
The Ruby 2019
I’d been looking at the weather forecast with a little dread. I was happy enough by now in flat water to know I could do the swim even with the odd breaststroke if needs be, though having had some terrible swims in choppy conditions that really hit my confidence I was more than a bit nervous. The weather for the start of the 10k swim at 7am wasn’t actually that bad, unfortunately for me as the day went on to our start time at 9:15 then it was windy and choppy. I felt pretty chilled when I parked up at the start, that didn’t last long though as I then went down to look at the water and had that negative little voice already telling me that conditions were poor.
I was getting buddied up with Mark Williams as Kristy was unfortunately too sick to swim, a real shame for both of us though Mark is a more than able replacement and another great person. We went into the water to acclimatise and warm up swim and I felt okay again then, even when we started the first bit of swimming wasn’t too bad, then I started taking in a little water. That knocked my confidence and there were lots of breaststroke/swim combinations over to the island and I’d already felt very uneasy in the water. The swim in the lea of the island still had some steel, though the turn to the top buoy was straight into really choppy conditions. I wasn’t happy, though Mark constantly was calming, giving cues to get me breathing properly and to keep swimming. Even swimming the back side of the island with the swell wasn’t fun and I couldn’t get any rhythm. The final swim back to the start was when it really fell apart for me, not that it ever really got going! I think I managed about 10 strokes in total on the swim back and may yet hold the record for most breaststroke around the Ruby. The swell was from our right and although I can bi-lateral breathe I have always been happier breathing to my left. Unfortunately, by now the chop was so big it was coming over the top of me and I was still taking in water then. I had a couple of real panics in this section too, really close to the end too which would have been terrible to pull out then. Thanks entirely to Mark, I made it back to terra firma and did complete, in a fashion the 2.5k Ruby open water swim.
It was interesting when I finished as I felt very flat, I should have been delighted to have knocked this off in poor conditions but I think I was mostly angry with myself for not being able to use more mental control to swim more and block out the negative thoughts. To be honest it took a good number of days to really come to terms and appreciate how far I had come as a swimmer with a fear of having his head under water last year to completing this event in a year when a fair few experienced swimmers pulled out of the swim due to the conditions. I’m now in a place where I’m proud to prove anyone can do this, just with the right motivation and of course the right support and encouragement.
Thanks to so many people who gave me the tools and belief to complete what turned out to be an epic mental battle for me to get the swim completed. Emma Ferris with all of her breathing inputs and training, they have indeed been life changing for me. Carol Goodlass for honing the mental side of this challenge, the power of the mind is indeed something not to be underestimated. Merryn my swim coach who managed to enable me to get my head in the water and get me swimming around Ruby in less than a year, she’s a real superstar. The Ruby Team for supporting and enabling us take part as this mission to get a late forties, non-swimmer around the open water course. Mark Williams who stepped in at the last minute to help me around the swim, a calmer and more patient man you could not meet and there is no way I would have got round without him. Then of course there is the lovely Kristy herself who mentored me, accompanied me through all the open swim milestones and organised everything and gave me the belief that I could do this, proving she can enable a non-swimming old boy to be ready for and complete this challenge. I am so grateful to have had this chance, I just need to get the hang of this chop thing next!
Andy has been so great to work with and the two of us have learnt many new skills along the way.Andy has been continuing with his swim training over the past two weeks and just this morning had an amazing final pool swim before next weekend’s Challenge Wanaka Half. Andy will be combining his new swim skills with a bike and run. I would like to wish Andy all the very best for his race and for his future swimming endeavours.