July 2020 update
It has been a while after I have made my last blog post, and now the situation has changed a lot, including Hong Kong, the pandemic, etc.
The new “national security law” has been imposed on Hong Kong by the Chinese Central Government bypassing the Hong Kong government completely which means “one country two systems” have been destroyed. The UK has officially declared that Sino-British Joint Declaration is violated. A few countries have already suspended the extradition treaty with Hong Kong. Since the enactment of the law, prosecutions have been done with stickers or posters as evidence, books have been removed from library shelves, the freedom in Hong Kong has already gone completely.
Also a third wave of local COVID-19 cases has appeared in recent days, about 2 weeks after relaxation of control measures in the latter half of June. The government has just announced a new set of tightening measures including suspension of schools again, closure of entertainment venues, compulsory face mask on public transport and restriction of catering and gathering. Also, major exhibitions like the book fair has been postponed as well.
Meanwhile, in Europe, borders are now gradually reopening and economic activities are now resuming. The UK has lifted quarantine requirement for travellers coming from low-risk countries including Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. Channel swimming has just resumed a few days earlier (although relay teams are still restricted given the group size restrictions), given that pilot boats can operate, landing on the French shore is now allowed, and quarantine requirement returning from France is lifted as well. The lawyers’ team from Hong Kong has postponed their attempt to September this year.
My revised short-term plan
As the quarantine requirement upon returning Hong Kong is extended until September, also Hong Kong does not appear on the list of Schengen external border reopening, it is not possible for me to carry on my Nordic trip in August as planned. The flights have been cancelled by the airline which I am considering carrying the ticket value forward to another trip in October. If the pandemic situation improves, borders open, orienteering races resume, I will then go to Europe to do a few TrailO world ranking events, and also possibly visit the UK to prepare my eventual emigration stated in the next section.
I have planned to get some Total Immersion lessons in summer to improve my swim technique while the pool is too hot for any high-intensity aerobic training, however as a third wave of COVID cases appear in Hong Kong, my desired coach Chung Ho is not doing lessons in the pool now. I did a lesson with a non-TI coach, Abraham Kok, who is a national triathlete. However, he used methods which are exact opposite of what TI does, including raising my cadence, increasing my kick rate, and keeping my hips flat, which brought me immediate improvement in my 50 / 100 m times, but unsustainable even for 200 or 400 m. He thought that in order to improve my 10 km time I would need to get my 100 / 200 / 400 m faster first. I haven’t taken the second lesson yet as I doubt his method would require a high level of fitness which I definitely don’t have, by increasing cadence and kicking more for 10 km or even more. What I want is a method which can improve my streamline and reduce my drag to the minimum such that I can use the least effort to get through 10 km or even the channel fast.
I am thinking what are my other options in order to get me to swim-fit by November when I will resume long-distance swim training, maybe I should find another TI coach such as Karen Robertson instead. I am really worried that if I can’t get my technique right in these few months, it will be too late and affect my training in winter, which will consist of a series of progressively longer swims in order to prepare me for my channel attempt in September 2021.
I have decided not to race swimming until the end of October because it is too hot for me to get good result, with the exception of Golden Nipples Challenge which is postponed from April, and aquathon races. Instead I may become a helper in these races. I have stopped my training now, only doing a short weekend swim with the various open water groups. I don’t think I can do long swims now because it is too hot.
The TrailO world championship this year is cancelled due to the pandemic. Also orienteering races haven’t resumed yet. I hope that races can resume in August and I can travel to do international races in October.
My revised long-term plan
I will definitely leave my current job at contract maturity in October. I will dedicate myself to train for channel swimming over the winter as planned. I’m thinking about some interesting routes which I may do for my progressively longer swims, e.g. Hoi Ha round Grass Island (12 km), Stanley round Po Toi (20 km), round Lamma Island (21 km), etc. Although my other dream swim, round Hong Kong (42 km), will be a perfect test swim wholly in my comfort zone in similar conditions before doing the channel, I am not likely to do it because it is much more expensive than swimming the channel itself. I will also race the Cold Half again definitely.
The UK has responded to the barbarian “national security law” by announcing that it will create a new kind of visa for BNO nationals which will be 5 years in duration as a pathway to get ILR and citizenship afterwards. Details are expected in the coming few months. Therefore I may need to change my working holiday plan to become a semi-permanent emigration plan. Channel swimming will no longer be my first priority as the pressure to get it done within 2 years of working holiday no longer exists, and I will need to consider my life in general and also my career prospect as well. I will need to reconsider if I will settle in Bournemouth. I plan to move around March / April to give continuity in my training.
I have found a race called Celé Lipno, which has been postponed to June 2021. It has 2 categories, one is the full-length, 32 km with 16 hours time limit, another is the half-length, 16 km. It will be 3 months before my channel attempt and it is not expensive, therefore it may be a good test-run before I swim the channel to see if I can reasonably complete the distance, although it will be much easier than the channel itself as it is in a lake.
Also, the Hong Kong Bill has been postponed to October, depending on the outcome I may also need to revise my above plan further.