Five Thousand Metres

I hadn’t planned to do it today. I only wanted to see if I could manage 100 lengths of the pool in two hours or less. I swam 48 lengths in the first hour and thought I could do better, so I pushed on. Same result. After two hours, 96 lengths with only a minute to spare. It looked as if I had reached my hull speed. 1.2 km/hr. Or 0.648 knots.

I was in the right mood to continue. I’d eaten a good breakfast, I was well hydrated and I had started early, so there was plenty of time. I kept trying to beat my current record of twelve lengths in a quarter hour. I almost did it a couple of times but in the fourth hour I started to slow. And felt hungry. I hadn’t brought my wallet with me, so there would be no sustenance other than bottled water until I went home.

As I swam and counted laps, I was also letting my mind wander down the path of possibilities. I felt that in my current regime I was finally getting on top of things. As it began to look as if I would actually complete my five thousand metre goal I fell into a reverie about what goal I might set my sights on next. I still haven’t seen the Great Barrier Reef. That has to be my next goal. Dive the Barrier.

The reverie continued, I fancied I might try swimming the length of the Barrier Reef. That would be a worthy challenge. I’d have to use fins of course. At my present swimming speed it would take me about 95 days if I swam non-stop. But I would have to rest and sleep. So it would undoubtedly take much longer. That meant I’d need supplies. This could easily be a nine month swim.

I considered the logistics. I would need a swim noodle to use as a pillow. I would have to tow a series of inflated inner tubes to carry my supplies. One would have a solar still, to supply me with fresh water straight from the sea. One would support a solar panel, battery, and my CPAP machine, suitably protected from seawater. A third would carry food supplies and shark repellent. And vinegar in case of jellyfish. I should probably take along a speargun for protection, and to supplement my food supplies. Also a net on a pole, fine enough to strain out plankton as I swam. If a whale can survive on that, so can I.

I would not be able to cook so I’d need plenty of lime juice and coconut milk so I could make any fish I speared into Kokoda. I wondered if plankton would make good Kokoda. I would need chilli paste, garlic and ginger as well. In case plankton didn’t taste all that good.

There was going to be quite a lot to tow. I’d definitely need the fins. Which made me think I’d better take a spare pair along. And an extra mask and snorkel. It would be a disaster if I lost them and they sank into the depths. I’d need lanyards on everything.

No matter how well I ate, all that exercise would drastically affect my weight, especially the fat that currently makes me buoyant. So I had better take a buoyancy vest.

I would have to manage all this by myself. I could not have a support crew. Apart from the expense, they would probably force me to abort the swim and lock me up in an asylum.

Thus I passed the time.

It took just over 265 minutes to complete 200 lengths. 5 kilometres at an average 1.14 km/hr. I estimate I burnt about 12,000 kJ in that effort. No wonder I was famished.

I rode home. The rogan josh in the slow cooker was not quite yet ready. I put some Uncle Ben’s rice medley to heat up in the top half of the slow cooker, and opened a can of cider. By the time it was gone I knew I badly needed a nap. I did. I really did. I was asleep in minutes.

When I awoke it was after eight. I had slept over four hours. I rushed off for a pee, and when I returned I remembered to weigh myself before I ate. Today I am – I was – exactly 20 kilos lighter than I was in January. Pats self on back with good arm. Other arm can’t reach. Waits for applause. Not a sausage.

Drinks another cider. Eats an extra large helping of curry and rice. Which is now overcooked. The meat is mushy. The celery and onion have dissolved in the spicy yoghurt and tomato sauce, which has turned a bit watery. The carrots are recognisable only by their colour.

Thus the fruits of victory become ashes in our mouths.

According to my app, if I repeated today’s effort every day, I would lose another twenty kilos in five weeks.

I shall not be doing that.

Author: Uisce úr

Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.