As much as I tried to focus on swimming, my mind shifted gears in panic and retreated to a dark place. I knew I needed to feed every 20 minutes in order to complete this swim, but this was not working. Everything seemed like it was unraveling as the swells made it impossible to feed from the boat.
Thankfully my kayakers were willing to go above and beyond their role. Safer to administer my feedings from a kayak rather than a motor boat with a propeller, Steve and Sheila gave me my feedings. Every 20 minutes I would be called over. Concerned that I wasn’t ingesting enough calories with my Carbo Pro, and feeling as though I needed more “bang for my buck,” I switched to Gu’s. Tiny hundred calorie viscous gel packs that were stuffed into squeeze bottles on the boat by Joe, and then handed to the kayakers who also kept a full supply of water for me.
With my tongue beginning to swell, my mouth was already feeling the effects of the extraordinarily salty seawater. I welcomed the quick swig of Listerine mouthwash to help palliate the symptoms of saltwater mouth following a feeding. A strange, but tried and true, remedy among channel swimmers. The theory being that alcohol neutralizes the effect of saline on your mouth tissue. Waves would whip across my face from multiple directions as I struggled to take a big sip of mouthwash.
Despite the challenging conditions, the oddity of rinsing my mouth out with Listerine in the middle of the infamous Kaiwi Channel mid-swim in the middle of the night – in less than favorable weather conditions - certainly wasn’t lost on me. It suddenly occurred to me: this is not normal. And that’s one of the many reasons why I love it.
With my feedings back on track I settled back into my rhythm. Hours passed. Yet I remember very little of this part of the swim. It became a blur of “one-two-three… breathe” strokes broken by feedings.
At one point a massive white light radiated so great that I worried for a moment a fishing boat hadn’t seen us and was coming up fast behind me. I stopped for a moment and looked. A glorious crescent Man-in-the-moon hung low on the horizon making a much-needed appearance.