Now, where to start ? I guess I ll just write a little note about our sucessfull attemp to cross the strait and leave all the poetic stuff to Jon on a later article. So here is what I think sums it up very quickly.
We got to the harbor at about 11 o clock when we were told that Rafael wouldnt show up that day. We met with the skipper and found out that it was going to be pretty windy out there and we probably couldnt start before 1 o clock. So waiting was on. When we finally got on the boat I didnt know what to expect from that swim. I couldnt tell how far 16k in the ocean would be and what else would happen. It was so rough that we barely could touch land on the spanish side before starting our swim. Then all went quite quickly. The skipper took a photo of us and we started. The pace was ok, but the waves were shaking us like a washing machine. We made good progress for the first 2 hours and thought all will be good. The water was nice and warm for me, even without a wetsuit (19 C), but freezingly cold for Jon. Then the skipper came towards us and said we need more speed. I thought we were going quite fast already but obviously not. I didnt know why we would need to go faster and that made me feel nervous. Apperantly the current had picked up and became massive, it was going to take us down all the way to cyprus or greece if we didnt speed up. At that time we missed our landing point and the skipper choose a different landing point farther east. That time I was feeling mentally down. I swam in Jons slipstream to make it easier to navigate coz the waves were so high that I barely could see the guiding boat. I thought, if I am gonna miss his feet once I would have to drop off and give up. Jon put up an incredible speed. I kept swallowing salt water coz I breathed into the direction of the waves. For about an hour Jon would go crazy in the water and just push it really hard. We stopped drinking and eating coz we thought we couldnt stop or otherwise it would take us to far down. By that time we had totally missed our original landing point and the skipper headed for Ceuta which is the last possible landing point before hitting the wide open of the mediteranien sea.
Land came closer and for the first time I thought we could do it. I was wondering if we could slow down a bit and take it easy then. But the guy on the feeding boat was urging us to more speed and Jon was getting cold so we kept it up. Jon swam ahead of me and I didnt manage to stay in his slip stream. We were about 1 mile to the shore when I thought all would be good. However a strong current would come against us taking us out into the strait again. I would swim there and not making any progress (Wait for the movies). Patricia told me to pull myself together and give it one more go. That was the longest kilometer I ever swam.
I could make up the houses on the shore and we kept pushing it, and then I saw the ground beneath me. Fish were swimming under me and at that point all went very good. I enjoyed the last couple of metres and headed for a stone wall. When I cleared the water a guy with a mashine gun would say something in spanish to me and the skipper was urging me to come back to the boat. We landed at the border between morocco and the spanish enclave of Ceuta, directly at the boarder fence with all the guards. The spanish military thought we were moroccans trying to enter spain by swimming …
I jumped on the boat, Jon was already there. We congratulated each other and I started to feel way better. On our way back we saw dolphins all over the place. It took us almost two hours to go all the way back by boat.
That swim was definitely the toughest thing I have been through mentally. Physically I wasnt to exhausted, it just blew me up in my head. Much more difficult to focus on than finishing an Ironman.
We feel great today. Will get a haircut today and have some cervecas … Well that wasnt short at all, but worth a few words.