So as Pip carried on grinding out the weary miles, I prepared for my 3am swim. Despite it being cold and dark and the middle of the night, I was actually feeling fine. I wasn’t cold, I wasn’t feeling too tired and I had bags of energy; in fact, I completed my 3am mile only three minutes more slowly than my first mile, which I was very pleased about. It helped a lot that Mandy was swimming at the same time – we changed together, whispering so as to avoid waking sleeping swimmers, wore matching costumes, and posed for pictures before our swims, grinning under the floodlights, all of which was very morale-boosting.
Once my 3am swim was done, my spirits soared. I had only one more swim to go, at 7am which was a much more civilised time, and the prospect of a nap ahead. Never mind that it was only a couple of hours, it was still the chance to snuggle into a warm sleeping bag and relax. This is what makes it such a very different experience for soloists than for relayers. If you’re doing a solo, you have no time to relax and very little to warm up; every minute becomes precious.
As for me, I changed into my last costume, put on all my other clothes and covered my sleeping bag with my Dryrobe before crawling into it. Even so I was still cold; the air was freezing and it felt as though it was all blowing down my back and stopping me getting warm. In the end I got back out, found my gloves and hat and put them on, then snuggled back down and finally dropped off to sleep, cosy at last.