July 18th 2018 Bantry Bay @ 11.30 am
Low Tide 03.39 (0.50m)
High Tide09.46 (3.20m)
Low Tide 16.03 (0.60m)
High Tide 22.11 (3.20m)
First Quarter Moon
It is the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry. There are so many interesting events over the week, in fact I would have loved to have gone to them all. I had booked my ticket for West Cork : The Making of a Podcast months ago as my podcast group were all going, but I had left it too late for the other events with many sold out. However on the Lough Hyne Lapper’s What’s App the night before a spare ticket for swimmer Alexandra Heminsley came up and I leaped at the chance.
The very beautiful Bantry House was the location of the “coffee and a chat” with Alexandra Heminsley, we all gathered in the cosy alcove of the tea rooms overlooking the well manicured gardens. I sat next to a local lady who told me she swims nearby in a river with a waterfall. She also told me of another swimming spot near Glengarriff, so it was well worth going just for discovering new swimming adventures.
Alexandra is a journalist, broadcaster and a ghost writer. Her first book “Running Like a Girl” is about her personal journey of running which lead her to run many marathons. The chat is lead by a lady who I am sorry to say I have forgotten her name but she is also a writer, a runner and also likes to swim and firstly asks Alexandra about her running.
It is while running in Brighton along the shore, up and down hills always catching glimpses of the sea that starts Alexandra on her journey into the water. I could immediately imagine the sea sparkling and calling out to her the way it does to me here in West Cork. I loved that when Alexandra talked about her running it was very honest and frank she was not boastful or condesending she was funny and inspiring. She even had me thinking that maybe I could run too…
When she talked about swimming it was very much the same but I could relate to this much more. She had us all in stitches when she read a paragraph from the book about getting into her wet suit.
What really made me think was when she describes the trouble and trials of breathing when first starting swimming. I snorkel when swimming I have told myself this suits me best so I can see whats underneath me better than always having to rotate to breathe. However with breathing while swimming there is technique that has to be conquered and she describes quite beautifully about learning to exhale. This was to be the title of the book , but was later considered too longwinded. Smoking is essentially exhaling and she says it is what she missed about giving up and you would never as a non smoker say that you were popping outside to exhale. Sitting there I realised that that is the part of swimming I am missing out on . I am also an ex smoker and totally get what she is talking about.
“Everything is better when you remember to exhale.”
Alexandra talks about her adventure of swimming from Kefalonia to Ithaca a 5k swim which pushed her to her limits but she pushed on and triumphed.
She very honestly described that she thought that while swimming it was normal for your goggles to leek and she developed her stroke so she could release the water that was getting in. When she casually mentioned this to other swimmers who were horrified that she was having to do this and WHY ? Alexandra said she was pressing on her goggles in her mind to keep the seal when all she was doing was breaking it.
Alexandra has a beautiful story of when she was starting swimming she was also going through IVF treatment and had all but given up all hope of having children when she did discover she was pregnant was the day she met Judy Murray. Alexandra had her baby boy now a good few months old and the tea room applauded this wonderful news. Judy is the mother of Scottish tennis player Andy Murray. Alexandra ghost wrote her book and it is the story of Judy’s journey as a single mum bringing up two exceptionally talented boys.
I left feeling very up lifted and very privileged to have had the chance of the ticket, but there was more to come, the icing on the cake a swim with Alexandra Heminsley in Bantry Bay.
Here she is above and below the water. Thank you so much for a very inspiratinal talk and swim. I wish you all the very best and cannot wait to see what you do next.
As always in West Cork I met some lovely people there too, I would definitely recommend the West Cork Literary Festival just book early to avoid disappointment.
I also met fellow artist Anne Tilby who is having an exhibition “Boat Yard” in the Coach Yard in Bantry House. I went up to see the exhibition after the swim. Annes work is a shrine to the unique culture and craft of boatbuilding so we are both on the same page there. I asked her if she had any plastic saving tips for my Turning The Plastic Tide page. She has made a sail from recycled plastic in the exhibition and her tip was to reuse materials and create something new with them. She worked on programmes as Father Ted and Spitting Image and said there was zero budgets so they had to make do with what they could get their hands on.
Thanks Anne for the tip and her exhibition will run to the end of July and well worth seeing.