Start Location: Upton-upon-Severn
End Location: Wainlode
Distance travelled: 21km
Exercise Duration: 7hr:35mins
GPS Track: //connect.garmin.com/modern/profile/RossSwims
I woke up after a very rough sleep, which only lasted 6 hours. In my everyday life, I usually get 10 hours of sleep every night. So far on this adventure, the most sleep I’ve gotten has been 6 hours. I was certainly getting used to the lack of sleep and feeling like death in the morning. Of late we have all been getting slower and slower getting up in the mornings. I pottered into the bar area of The Kings Head and carried out my morning routine of writing yesterdays blog and editing the videos. This was getting very tough to do. I had Charlie for the six days and she was doing all the filming and editing for me, and she was fantastic at it also. Now I’m left doing this, which takes about 2-3 hours every morning.
We headed to the riverbank with all our kit at about 10am. Patch passed the phone over to me and said “I’ll pass you on to Ross so you can tell him the good news”. It was Kev Brady, the legend that first swam this river when no one else thought it was possible. Kev said he wanted to join us today down by Tewksbury for a paddle. I was delighted to have this kind of support and encouragement from a person like Kev.
Before I started this swim, I reached out to quite a few adventurers that had undertaken similar tasks to what I’m currently doing. Very few came back to me. Kev on the other hand came back to me within a day, and expressed shear enthusiasm with the prospects of me attempting to swim the River Severn. He told me to call over to his house for a chat about all the logistics and planning for my swim. That same day I met Kev in his house, he was launching his new business SUP Gloucester. He still spent two hours of his Saturday speaking to me in his back garden, and answered the million and one questions I asked him. He is a one of the nicest people I have met, and someone I have great respect for, especially after I endured the same adventure as he did.
We were all very excited with the thought of Kev joining us today. In the water we went and we were off. I had a second wind of energy knowing that we had extra support ahead, as normally I feel terrible for the first hour of every swim. I usually slip into a negative state of mind, where I’m constantly battling my mind. But today was different, I was enjoying the process from the start.
Patch and I were battling some very tough conditions from the start. There was long straight sections of river, with the wind blowing strongly against the river flow, which created consistent choppy one foot waves. These were smashing into my face at every breath, and at times my arm wouldn’t even swing over the surface of the water, as it would get obstructed by the waves. Very tough conditions to say the least. We were both just battling on through it, fighting our own personal battles with every move. I would look up and see the next bend of the river a mile away. One thing I focused on, was picking a distinctive tree about 30m ahead on the riverbank, and just focus on getting to that tree. Keep doing this, and these little victories break down the river one chuck at a time. This was working. It tricks your brain into thinking your winning, even though the elements are thrashing you. I use this method a lot when undertaking endurance openwater swims.
I heard Patch shouting, so I stopped to see what the story was. It was Kev in this distance, paddling up to meet us. The first thing he done was shake my hand and tell me what a great job I was doing. He told me that I’m making him look bad. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Kev done his swim in October, where the water was freezing cold, he woke up with ice on his wetsuit, he had to stop every hour to light fires and run around like a lunatic to keep warm. He had it much, much, tougher than me. But nevertheless, it was great to hear positive words from a person like Kev, about my endeavour.
Kev told us that the lock keeper said we could go through the lock at Tewksbury. We sat in the lock waiting for the gates to open for about 10 minutes. Once the gates opened, so did the heavens. Kev said the lock gates opening reminded him of the ‘Jurassic Park’ theme song. So he decided to sing whilst I was swimming through the lock gates. I had never swam in rain like this, not that it made any difference to me. I could just feel the rain pelting off my hat furiously. The lads were getting battered.
Kev organised for us to stop off at The Lower Lode Inn for free tea. I was perished at this point, so this cup of tea couldn’t come fast enough. Kev’s dad, Brendan, joined us for a cup of tea. Brendan knew exactly what I was going through, and offered to come out to support. We sat and talked for about 30-minutes about everything and anything. It was great to have this support and really cheered me up.
We were about to get back into the water and it was pouring rain relentlessly. I said to Kev, “I still amn’t used to this part”. I was going on about how you come of the water, and your freezing cold, then you warm up, and then you have to go back into the water. Kev said “I know, same here, its the worst part”. He was right. That feeling of getting your body finally warm, then throwing it back to cold water, is terrible, and something I still amn’t used to.
We ploughed on, and were covering some mighty mileage. We stopped again at a pub that we thought was going to be open, but it wasn’t. Brendan had the car warmed up, and I sat in there with him talking for about 30-minutes. He shared loads of stories about Kev’s River Severn swim. They were great stories, and I could relate to what he was saying most of the time.
I had about 2km to the Red Lion at Wainlode and swam as if there was a shark chasing me. I was wrecked and hungry. I went around my last corner only to see the distinctive red bricked building of the Red Lion. It was a very strange feeling, as this was where I used to do all my openwater swim training for the River Severn swim. I felt like I was home in a weird way. Every corner I turned up until this point, I had no idea what was in front of me. But from here, I knew the next 12km of the river like the back of my hand.
We jumped out and dried off. Graham and Jean from MND were there waiting for me for about an hour. They were delighted to see me and we took a couple of pictures.
We went into the Red Lion for some grub, and they kindly provided me with a free meal. The food there was amazing. Kev said that we could stay in his sisters Shelly’s house tonight. He dropped us off at Shelly’s house. Shelly told us that we have separate rooms and a bed. A BED!!! I haven’t slept on a bed since the 3rd of June! We stayed up for awhile talking, before we all crashed on this thing they called a bed. It was soft , comfortable and supported my back. What was this wonderful object I had forgotten all about. Needless to say, I went to sleep straight away.
Special thanks to the ‘Brady’ family. You are a smashing bunch of people, and have helped me so much for this adventure. Thanks guys.
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