June 19, 2017

In four weeks I will leave for Ireland to try to cross the North Channel and complete the Oceans Seven.

At the same time one year ago I was training in San Francisco Bay. I do not want to repeat what I felt, but you can read about it in last week’s blog.

My visit this year was totally different. I arrived carefree, confident that I would have a good experience. I wanted to make sure that my internal thermostat was aligned with what my body will have to face in a few weeks.

Temperatures in the bay ranged between 12.5º and 14.5°C; I planned routines of one hour on Thursday, four on Friday, three on Saturday and one on Sunday.

My body reacted well: it cooled without pain and when I experienced the of lowest temperatures I managed to keep myself in rhythm, focused on my form and the rhythm of my kick.

It was in the sauna that I passed the acid test. In all previous visits, this year and last, it had taken up to 45 minutes in the sauna to regain my body temperature. This time was different.

The recovery routine starts from the moment you get out of the water. If the ambient temperature is higher than the water temperature, you start to warm up. You climb the stairs and you go to the shower. You start with lukewarm water for the first few minutes to gradually get warm. It takes about 10 minutes to feel good. Then you go to the sauna. You wrap yourself in your towel—which it is important to have left in the sauna before swimming so you can get that first feeling of warmth. Then you sit on the wooden benches as the temperature starts to rise.

In January I spent a few minutes shaking from the cold I’d just experienced, but little by little, as I got used to the extreme temperatures, I managed to control it. The most difficult part of your body to heat is your feet.

On this trip, I was able to shower with hot water at the beginning of my post-swim routine. My body was not cold and my passage through the sauna was much more efficient. Sunday was the record: I had to spend only five minutes in the sauna.

I really knew things were going well when I found that my feet regained their normal temperature by the time I left the club.

With this visit my San Francisco training routine comes to a close. I feel very fortunate to have found the doors open at the South End Rowing Club (SERC) and to be accepted as a member of this extraordinary institution.

On Sunday I asked my friend Simon Dominguez, who from the first day served as my host, to record a video where I took water from San Francisco Bay and sand from the beach in front of SERC to place in the North Channel. It is a way to bring with me the memory of the many hours I spent training in those icy waters, as well as the good wishes and friendship of so many of my fellow swimmers.

I hope to return to share good news. If for some reason I fail, however, I will also return, for the South End Rowing Club is a place that I feel close to my heart.

Watch the video here: