I am training to swim the English Channel in August 2013 to show my support for and to celebrate my inspirational friends and family who have fought cancer. Sadly, despite bravery, courage and dignity some have lost their fights, and brilliantly some have had the all clear. Some are still fighting. They will be my driving force when training gets tough and the swim seems unachieveable.
The English Channel is an iconic swim. In a straight line it is 21 miles from Dover to France, but often swims cover 30 – 40 miles, due to the tides. I will be challenged by the distance, water temperature, tides, winds, salt, large ships, wildlife and much much more.
My love for open water swimming started as a result of a wonderful friendship with Dawn and Giles Walker, while I was living in New Zealand. Since moving back to the UK, three years ago, this passion has developed into ‘traditional (ie non-wetsuit) swimming… and I’ve never looked back! Last year my challenge was in the Lakes, building up to successfully swimming the 10.5 miles of a one-way Windermere.
This year my training for the Channel has stepped up and included:
– a week training in Malta with the wonderful Claire, Michelle, Sally and my first open water hero Keith (who saved me when I had a nasty encounter with a Portugese-man-of-war… which has left a rather unattractive reminder of it’s sting on my back!)
– a weeks long distance training in Cork, Ireland, with the fantastic and completely brilliant Ned Dennision and the Sandycove swimmers (be them honorary, like myself, or ‘full-time’!). The incredible people I met there have been a constant source of inspiration, advice and smiles. Not least of all my second open water hero Bryn… who I was so incredibly grateful to be swimming alongside on one of the days in particular!
– a one-way Ullswater, having been defeated by this last year I was determined to seek my revenge this year. And that demon has now been successfully laid to rest!!
– a 5 person relay of the English Channel with Steve ‘Tiger’ Lyons, Paul Cane, Ian Shaw, and ‘Big Back’ Kate Armstrong. Our pilot was Kevin on the Connemara and we were lucky to have Dave Quartermain and Pete Woodward crewing. A great experience, and glorious conditions. 12 hours 23 minutes.
– attempting to crew Jenny Zwijnen on her Solo Channel swim this year. The week spent waiting with Jen down in Dover was a valuable experience and lesson learned. If the weather isn’t right… this swim can’t happen. And you need to be mentally tough and prepared for this part of the challenge.
– an attempted two-way Windermere swim. This was a incredible experience for me. I absolutely loved every minute of it, but sadly was pulled out of the water, with serious hypothermia, after 12 hours and 19 miles. Bringing me to my third and fourth open water heroes… Dave Q and Chris Moulder, who were on my boat.
– Crewing and being the support swimmer for Catie Smith on her 16 and a half hour crossing of the Channel in October. Being in the water and feeling the strength of the tide for that last hour was an eye opener.
– a mile in the coldest lake in Britain… and one of my favourite places to swim, Llyn Lldaw on Snowdon.
As I write this, on 12th October 2012, I have exactly 10 months and 1 day until my tide opens. The next 43 weeks are going to be an amazing adventure and I look forward to keeping you updated on my progress.