Every person that takes part in a sport, thinks their sport is the toughest (Except of course for tri-athletes they can’t decide on one sport so instead get in the way of everyone taking part in just one, but I digress). While I can’t dispute any persons self belief in their sport, I do feel I can argue to the one attribute no other sport can imitate that swimming has, which is sensory deprivation.
In other similar sports, running, cycling etc. they have their individual challenges but each of them has the opportunity for conversation or at least grunting with others. Swimmers have no such luxury.
At best we can say a few words to the yackers at our feeds, with most swimmers aiming for feeds to take less than 1 min or in some cases (the fast swimmers) no interruption at all. So that’s 30 mins silence (no music allowed, it’s against EC rules), feed, swim, feed, swim.
So what do you do in the silence?
Some count their strokes, I know people who will count In to the thousands between feeds, some sing songs with entire playlists planned.
In my case I swim to the next feed, i am food motivated. I day dream, I think about how far I have to go, I imagine the course in my mind, I do math, I wonder how long I have left, I wonder what’s next.
The longest swim I have done to date took me 8 hrs 36 mins, it was not the physical discomfort that was the biggest challenge but it was the mental discomfort. Up until the half way point it’s always the same mental argument of you could still save more than half your day to get out now. Once I pass the half way point then it’s working out the % of what’s left.
This all does lead to some swim silence stories though
I do remember getting very angry while swimming back from Canada as the math between the turn point and buoy 6 was just not making sense and maybe more interactions would of reduced this but this is also part of the challenge of long distance swimming.
Then During the key west swim, it happened to be on at the same time as Ireland vs Spain at the European soccer championships, so I gave my kayaker my phone, headsets, instructions to follow Sirius. As Ireland were being trashed he decided to tell me he lost signal. It was probably for the best.
Also On just the plain training days there are some other big advantages in that no one can reach you, no messages, no calls, no e mails, no news headlines, no tweets, yup that reminds me why I like the silence.