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Swimming in a Gale

heavy, waves and stroke


This adventure occurred in the Irish Sea, off Blackpool, during a westerly gale. I had been swimming here during the summer months in all conditions of weather, and was in good training for heavy sea swimming, frequently going in when it took ten or fifteen minutes to get an oppor tunity to take a plunge through the heavy waves breaking on the shore. When I say heavy, I mean four to five feet high. They may sound feeble to the uninitiated, but you can take it from me it is just about as heavy as any man will tackle, and very few at that. It's all 0. K. when you once get well out, but when these powerful waves break they are difficult to negotiate. Before get ting out I was frequently thrown stern or shoul ders first on the sands. Fortunately there was no shingle, or I could not have stood it; as it was, it was very trying. However, I managed to get out, and taking a long breath, with the breast stroke got through the breakers, after which it was a grand sensation to be lifted to what seemed mountains high from the hollow of the waves. It

was my intention on this occasion to return after a brief spell, as I knew I should require all my strength to land, and started with a good steady breast stroke, but try as I would I made no pro gress. On looking at a fixed point each time I came upon the crest of a wave, I found to my dis may the tide was drifting me down the coast; so seeing it was no good taking it at right angles, I turned with the tide, swimming in a slanting direc tion toward the shore, on which I landed some four miles down from my starting point, where a great crowd gave me a hearty reception, and I landed no worse for my rough experience, although it will be a quarter gale the next boisterous exper ience I want. The experience gained points out that a swimmer, under all circumstances, must en deavor to keep his head and do what seems best after carefully thinking it out.