The Never Ending Lake

On Monday I completed my longest ever swim to date, in fact more than double the time that I had swam before.  It was in Windermere where I swam to one end and then back again.  For those of you that don’t know, Windermere is England’s largest lake, and when measured from Ambleside to Lakeside is 10.5 miles long.  Meaning swimming both ways I covered 21 miles in a time of 12 hours 23 minutes.

I hadn’t been sure if after all the organising whether I would be able to swim as I had been suffering from an awful cold and cough for the last two weeks however I decided to go and see how I felt and could always stop part way through if I wasn’t feeling well.

I had travelled up on Sunday with Abby & Brian (my crew for both this swim and my Channel swim coming up) and Kate who was going to swim one way with me from Ambleside to Lakeside.  Once we had arrived we headed over to Ambleside to check out where the start would be and the public pier and then over to Bowness to talk to the boat hire people about the logistics for the next day as Brian was going to be Captaining the boat for the swim.  A lovely evening meal in an Italian and and then off to bed as we had an early start ahead of us the next morning.

Break of Dawn on Windermere

Break of Dawn on Windermere

Our alarms went off at 3.30am and having had a awful night’s sleep I felt like I hadn’t slept and the last thing I felt like doing was jumping in cold water and swimming for 12 plus hours but when we got down to the lake it looked stunning which helped motivate me to get me in the water.

With Brian at the helm we motored in our little electric boat from Bowness over to Ambleside which took about an hour, we were so lucky it was such a stunning start to the morning.  We had chosen to start early (and on a Monday) as we wanted the first part of the swim to be nice and quiet on the lake – not many crazy people like us on the lake at 4.45 in the morning.

And at 5.45am we started in ideal conditions with the water temperature at 16.6 degrees.

We had decided not to feed for the first hour and then again till the second hour and then half hourly after that, the sun had come out and the water was so flat and calm .  We were doing really well and making good progress , that was until we got to the other side of Bowness and the clouds came in and the wind picked up.  The next 3 hours was really tough work swimming against the wind and the on coming chop.  We arrived in Lakeside 6 hours 20 minutes after leaving Ambleside, it was slower than we had hoped but given the conditions it was good to get to the end.  Just before we had arrived at the turning buoy where Kate was going to finish and my half way mark Abby called me over to the boat to get me to feed on a warm drink as my shoulders and top of my back at turned blue/purple from the cold.  This can be the start of hypothermia so the team kept an eye on me and further signs as the colour came and went in my shoulders from then on till the finish of my swim.  I had goosebumps throughout the swim but was never really shivering.

Kate got back into the boat, a great swim from her and lovely to have the company but now this was me alone swimming back the way we had come.

The first couple of hours felt okay and with the wind now behind me and dropping a bit it felt a bit easier but then came the torrential rain and the crew had to batten down the hatches which made it a bit harder as I could only see whomever was sat in the driving seat apart from at feeds and not what else was going on in the boat.


Abby was feeding me every half hour so I was just swimming to the next feed, I had previously only swam up to 6 hours before so this was new territory for me and I wasn’t sure how my body would cope especially given that I had been poorly the following few weeks and not really been able to swim.  I was also not sure how I would deal with it mentally.  They often say long endurance swims are 80% mental 20% physical and at times during this swim I completely agree.  There were times I told myself I could do it and then another part of myself would say ‘well you’ve done 10 hours now, that’s great, you could just get out, you’ve done more than you have before’.  And then the other part of me would chip in ‘you’ve got less than 3 hours left to go now, if you were told you had a three hour swim on Dover beach you would think it was a short one, so just put your head down and carry on’.  Abby showed me messages of support from friends from time to time which really helped me and spurred me on – so thank you every one for your messages, you have no idea how much it pushed me on.

As the mist came down on the last an hour and a half in this large lake that I had been swimming in for a very long time it just never seemed to come to an end, every time I looked up it never came closer.  I had what was to be my last feed and told the team I didn’t want another one, I just wanted to get to the end and I put my head down and swam.  Abby said to me later that she saw me say to myself ‘come on Lisa, you can do this now’.  12 hours and 23 minutes after leaving Ambleside I returned to the same place I left.  I crawled out on all fours as I wasn’t sure if I would be able to walk and Brian came down and helped me walk back to the boat.  As I walked to the boat I broke down, it had been tough and I had finally done it.

During my swim I tried to adhere to all the Channel swimming rules as much as possible (the only one I didn’t was having Kate swim next to me for the first half) as I wanted to mimic the Channel swim as much as possible for both myself and the crew so we could learn what worked and what didn’t.  I imagined different scenarios in my head of how I would feel in certain points in my Channel swim but I can now have the confidence that can swim the distance and I can overcome the mental challenges.  I just need to keep reminding myself that!

I learnt a lot during this swim but most importantly how vital my crew are.  Abby kept me smiling throughout, she was always there smiling at me and always had my feeds on time which is so important when you are just swimming to the next feed.  Despite being stuck on a small boat in the cold and the rain she was so cheerful and excited throughout and did everything right, I am so pleased she is going to be on my boat for the Channel.  Next was Brian, he kept the boat on track and watched me every single stroke, it is so good to know that although you are in the water on your own that you have someone there watching over you, you don’t feel so alone – again another superstar who is going to be watching and supporting me every step of the way on my swim to France.  And last but not least, Kate, she will tell you she played no part in my success but first having swam 6 hours 20 minutes is an awesome challenge in itself but also having someone by my side to swim with for that time made it so much more do-able to achieve the whole bigger challenge.

Thank you to each of you that helped get me through – Firstly Abby, Brian, Kate but also all of you that sent me such wonderful messages and then all those that have so far donated towards my challenges and the Royal Marsden.  It is the reason I do these crazy things!

Night Windermere

Night Windermere

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How things change!

As I drove back from Dover this Saturday and the sun came out I drove past lots of people basking the in the sun, with BBQ smells filtering into the car & observing pub gardens overspilling.  I got home slumped on the sofa exhausted from battling in the cold sea against the wind and the waves and managed to get myself some banana milkshake and a piece of toast before crawling into bed for an hour kip.

As I crawled out of my bed and felt bad that I had missed the beautiful sunny afternoon it got me thinking about the sacrifices I was making this year.  Usually I would have been the first person in the beer garden or hosting a BBQ, but for the rest of my summer you will find me in the sea plodding up and down trying to chase my dream of becoming a Channel swimmer.

It has been really hard to let people down and say no to so many things already, friends Hen doo in Ibiza, a friends wedding the same week as my Channel slot and I am sure there will be many more as the summer goes on.  When people ask if I am free at the weekend’s now generally the answer is no – it really is tricky trying to balance everything- friends, work, boyfriend and training but I am determined to do it but fear not all there will be one hell of a party at the end of it!

When you choose to undertake a massive challenge you know that it comes with huge sacrifices but it doesn’t mean you find it easy and I am sure that it can be easy to say ‘oh okay then, just this once’ but I know that is a slippery slope to go down so till mid September if I say ‘I’m afraid I can’t join you’ then please understand that it isn’t because I don’t want to – there is probably nothing more than I would love than to be able to say ‘Yes, Yes’ but it is only 16 more weekends of my life so ‘No’ it is till then.

This is my quest to become ‘A Channel Swimmer, stick pebbles down my costume and be in the club’ If you haven’t watched this cartoon before please do – it is very funny but so true!

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If it wasn’t hard everybody would do it. The Hard… is what makes it great!

Over the last few weeks after doing limited training due to my back injury I pushed my body hard at two long distance training camps.

Counting the 100 x 100m

Counting the 100 x 100m

First was Camp Eton organised by Nick & Sakura Adams at Eton College over the Easter weekend. Nick is the President of the Channel Swimming & Pilot Federation and swam, I believe, the Channel 10 times plus many other big swims around the world. It involved two 12-13 hour days over which I swam about 21 km including 100 x 100m.  It had been a long time since I had trained that much and it was great to be able to complete it all despite the back aching a bit.


When were weren’t swimming the time was packed with seminars about important aspects of Channel swimming such as feeding, hypothermia, mental preparation, crew & ‘The Four P’s’.

The Four P’s are usually the questions that people want to ask about but perhaps don’t want to so it was a good chance to understand what to do if any of them happen/don’t happen and what you & your crew need to do – they included ‘puking’ ‘peeing’ ‘pooing’ and for us women ‘periods’.  Certainly made me think about things I hadn’t before.

There was also a wealth of experienced swimmers there who had completed many of the worlds iconic marathon swims including Wendy Trehiou who has completed a solo two-way crossing of the English Channel.  It was great to hear their stories and advice on my own swims this summer.  I came away from the weekend feeling like I had a lot more knowledge in my bonnet and more confident about my swimming despite my back which was great news.

The following Friday I flew out to Mallorca with friends to the SwimTrek Long distance training.  I wasn’t sure how much of the training I would do whilst I was there and was really pleased when I was able to do it all.  The water temperature was about 14-15 degrees and we swam 16 hours over 4 days.  Day 1: 1 hour and then 2 hour, Day 2: 3 hour and then 2 hour, Day 3: 6 hour, Day 4: 2 hours.

During the 6 hour (this was my second ever 6 hour swim) I swam with Kate & Olga, it makes such a big difference and made the time go quickly.  Kate & Olga both swam in wetsuits and as I swam between them I kept thinking they were little radiators next to me keeping me warm – it didn’t work but always good to ‘think’ warm!

During the swims we ‘fed’ every 30 minutes – the feed was made up of CNP powder in some warm water with either a jelly baby, piece of chocolate or bit of banana. This was good practice for both my Windermere and Channel swim as this is what I will be feeding on throughout on similar timings.

Throughout the training camp we had some sessions on channel swimming including one by Cliff Golding.  Cliff had many attempts of swimming the Channel before he finally succeeded and the perfect person to tell the story as to how to break down those ‘demons’ and psychological barriers that you come face to face with during a challenge such as the English Channel.

For the first time since I decided to sign up for the Channel whilst I was in Mallorca I started having doubt in my ability to succeed in swimming the Channel.  I am not sure if I was overwhelmed by all the information I had received over the last few weeks about the Channel and the realisation that it isn’t two years away but less than 5 months or something else but I did doubt myself and had a few tears.  However, since I have been back I have spoken to some friends who have swam the Channel and am back on track to believing in myself.  I am sure that it will happen again and probably during my swim as well – I just need to learn how to deal with it and what to do with those thoughts when they come into my head.

Scary things in the water in Mallorca

Scary things in the water in Mallorca

I am surrounded by people who do amazing things some of which have swam the Channel and being around them quite often normalised the swim I am going to undertake but it isn’t normal and it is a little bit crazy but I am enjoying the process and the up’s and down’s that come with it – it is certainly making me a stronger and a better person because of the journey.  Thanks to everyone who has been part of my journey so far and those who will be in the coming months.

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2 Saturday’s, 9 Pools & 9km

The last two Saturday’s I had decided to try and push myself and my back to see how it would take some further distance than the 2.5km I have been doing.  However, to try and make it fun and break it up a bit and also to try and catch up a bit with the ‘Winter Pool Challenge’ it was decided to try a bit of a Pool Crawl.

Lots of Towels & Cozzies

Lots of Towels & Cozzies

Last Saturday saw Brian, Kerry & I hit Kings Hall, London Fields, York Hall & Mile End – we did 1km in each so a total of 4km and then this weekend Kerry & I headed off to swim at Cally Pool, Pancras Square, Marshall Street & Porchester (both the 30m and the 25m pools) equalling a total of 5km.

Organising the ‘pool crawls’ has been quite a feat, last Saturday we travelled between by car but this was all on the tube.  The main thing has been trying to find times where there is some sort of lane swimming.  Pools generally only have lane swimming very early or very late but on the whole we were lucky enough to have a lane to swim in without too many lane drama’s.  Although funnily at Cally Pool Kerry and I had to swim in a large lane set aside as a club was training in the other 5 and whilst we swam our 1km we had to dodge two children having a lesson, 5 people doing their life saving course and picking the dummy off the bottom of the pool and a few random’s who I don’t think I can describe what they were doing as swimming.

As Kerry & I approached Porchester pool we saw this truck which had both a French & GB flag and a woman with a bottle of something – we saw this as a good omen for our swim.

GB to France

GB to France

Every pool we have visited so far has its own character, some of them have featured marble floors, other with purple glitter panels to look at when you swim to some of the not so glamorous but it has been amazing to find pools that have been there for years some of which I have walked close by many times but never knew they were there including pools just behind Carnaby Street and St Pancras Station.  It is also amazing how many pools have two pools within them of differing sizes to cater for people of all ages. Some of the pools from the outside have looked not very inviting but once in have been little pieces of heaven. We really are very lucky in London to have such choice from indoor pools to outdoor heated and non heated lidos to lakes and ponds.

Next Saturday I am off to Guildford Lido to see how my back will cope with the colder water.  The water is currently only heated to 10 degrees (most indoor pools are heated to 28-32 degrees) so no long distances to be swam there just yet but a good chance to start acclimatising to the cold water ready for Dover down in May.

If you are keen to find out more about the pools we visited you can do so on a recent guest blog I wrote for Team Mermaids.  You can find it here

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Award Winning Weekend

Last weekend I headed down to Dover with many other Channel Swimmers (both relay and solo) for the Channel Swimming & Pilot Federations annual dinner.

My friend Vicky, who was the fastest British swimmer to swim the English Channel last year, and I travelled down to Dover On Saturday via Charlton Lido.  It is such a gem of a pool and I have been a few times so far this year.  It is a 50m outdoor heated pool and is so nice to feel the freshness of the cold on your arms and head as you are warmed by the tempreture of the pool which is heated to 25 degrees.  Once the open water season opens in May I won’t have the luxuries of swimming outside in warm water so I am enjoying it whilst I can and it certainly beats swimming in indoor pools.

Charlton Lido

Charlton Lido

The CS&PF dinner was such a lovely night, catching up with other Channel swimming friends that I have met over the years, many of which had their solo swims in 2014.  I also was lucky enough to meet some amazing people from the open water swimming world, some of which have swam some incredible swims.  It truly is a wonderful community with people always offering support and advice.

The Awards

The Awards

During the dinner the awards were announced and some truly fantastic people won, people that I will be inspired by as I swim my solo this year.  It was a great surprise then when COSMIC Rays won an award.  We won the ‘Most meritorious Special Category Relay’ award, it was such a wonderful surprise and after having the BBC document our swim this was just another lovely way for us to remember and reminisce about our successful two way relay over the summer.  Unfortunately Parviz should have been there with us but due to a family illness last minute he was unable to join us – we will ensure that we all meet up to celebrate soon.

On the night a lovely video was shown (Thanks Emma for putting it together) which captured most of the swims from the summer, worth a watch if you have some time and will give you an idea of what a Channel swim entails/means to those that do it. Click here to watch it.

It was such a nice night that we decided to finish the night at the White Horse, for Channel swimmers the White Horse is somewhere where they can add their piece of history to the walls.  All over the walls Channel swimmers for years have added their scribble to ensure everyone knows their story.  COSMIC Rays hadn’t had a chance to add our piece of history yet so at 1am in the morning last weekend we finally added our names.  We also found our scribble from 2013 when we swam our one way relay as the’Flamingo’s’.

The next day we all met on the beach at 10am and most of the swimmers doused their hangovers with a 6 degree swim in Dover harbour.  I gave it a miss but it bought back many memories and will over the summer I am sure build many more.  It is now just 2 months left till I start heading down there most weekends and the training really begins for my massive challenge of 2015.

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The 6 month count down has begun

Today marks me being exactly 37 and a half but more importantly it marks 6 months until my Channel swim slot opens. The journey started on the 9th July 2013 before I had even done my first relay swim when I had a moment of madness and emailed my pilot Eddie to enquire about a solo Channel spot – the only space he had available was slot 3 during the week 5th – 11th September 2015. It seemed such a long time away at the time and since then I have done a 6 person one way relay and a 4 person 2 way relay across the Channel but now it is getting increasingly more real that I will be doing it alone.

It gets more and more real in my head everyday as I seem to think about it at least about ten times a day – I have imagined myself landing in France, jumping in the water swimming to the beach getting ready to go, swimming at night & getting acquainted with a jelly fish or two. I also think about my back and how it is hindering my training but perhaps is in fact helping me to take it easy and therefore not burn out before September. I have had people tell me that I am not training enough and other people telling me I am doing fine and just to worry about getting my back sorted and then putting in the hours from May onwards when the open water season opens. Everyone has an opinion about what is and isn’t right but the main thing is that I am happy in my head with what I am doing. I haven’t once imagined myself failing and that to me is half the battle – so many challenges are won and lost in your head and the Channel is no different.

So in light of that some interesting facts that will be true when I successfully land in France (as long as no one gets there before me). Thanks to Kerry (who is in slot 2 with the same pilot as me in the same week) for trawling the Channel swimmers data and coming up with these fun facts.

• I will be one of less than 500 women to have swam the Channel
• I will be the first female ‘Williams’ to have swam the Channel (there have been 3 men)
• I will be the 5th Lisa to have swam the Channel

The winter challenge is still going strong and as I slowly try to catch up with everyone it is has been a great way of keeping the swimming interesting – for those that don’t know, a friend Manda came up with a great idea for us to swim in as many of London’s pools as possible over the winter. Having had 4 months out I am some way back but enjoying swimming in new pools. You can find out more about it here – Winter Challenge

So as the weather starts to warm up and the open water season looms what I have I got in store. Over Easter weekend I will be heading to Eton for a 2 day swim training weekend. We will be swimming 3-4 hours each day but also importantly for me the schedule includes sessions on Channel swimming such as ‘Feeding & Hydration’, ‘Hypothermia & Fatigue’, ‘Mental Preparation’, ‘Support Crew’ etc. Then just a week later I will be heading over to Mallorca for a week for much of the same – so lots of training and info gathering coming up, watch out for those blogs in March & April.

I have also got two of my crew sorted. These are the team who will be supporting me from the boat through my whole swim and whose responsibility it will be to ensure I am fed according to what we had agreed and knowing when to change it as well as generally keeping an eye on me and making sure that I am okay and have what I need when I need it. It is such a huge responsibility and I am so grateful for them for offering to be part of my journey and taking the time to do so, it is really important to get the right people and I am 100% certain that they are. You will over time find out more about them, however, in the meantime they are Brian and Abby.

Brian I have known for many years and travelled across the UK to swim in different swims with, he has also himself done two relay’s across the Channel so understands some of the challenges the swim faces.  Brian is also joining me in Mallorca so will be fully gemmed up on Channel info by the end of the week. Abby sponsored me for my one way relay back in 2013 by looking after me and my spine through lots of chiropractic appointments, she is also a musician so I am sure she will be able to sing along to me and keep me and everyone on the boat jolly and tuneful and then help sort out my back once I am back in the boat at the end! They are both joining me in my challenge across Windermere in July so we can practice things such as my feeds and work out what works and doesn’t.

Exciting times ahead over the next 6 months.

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2015 – What will it bring?

So it is 2015 and as I thought about what resolutions I might make I decided that perhaps given the year that lays ahead I should just focus on that instead of trying to give something up.

Over the last 3 months it has been a bit of an anti climax after my team and I successfully completed our two way relay across the English Channel.  A viral infection I had in September seemed to have found its way into my lower back and caused me to have muscle problems around the sacroiliac joint and meant that I haven’t swam for this period of time.  Just before Christmas the physio allowed me to do ‘small swims’ although he quickly clarified that he didn’t mean 2-3km but more 500m.

Since then I have done a few swims and although the thought of only doing 500m-1,000m is not very motivating it has been great to be able to get back in the water after so long, especially given what the year has ahead for me.

So what has 2015 got in store for me?  I have committed to three big swims in the coming summer (instead of New Years resolutions);

  1. Monday 6th July – Two way Windermere solo (this is a 21 mile swim from one end of Windermere to the other and back again)
  2. Sunday 26th July – Two person relay across Lake Zurich with my friend Paul (26km swim – an hour in and an hour out rotating until we land in Zurich)
  3. 5-11th September – English Channel solo (21 miles from Dover to Cap Gris Nez)

So currently I have a long way to go from swimming 1km to swimming 21 miles but there is plenty of time for training but what a year I have ahead!

2015

 

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Want to see what it is like to swim across the Channel?

You may remember as part of the team we had a film crew with us who were there to film us as part of a documentary about people who live, work & play on the Channel.  Well it was finally broadcast a few weeks ago.  The documentary was called ‘Channel Patrol’ and we featured on the the third episode.

You can watch the episode here – Channel Patrol Episode Three

I also found myself in a copy of Whats On TV which was amusing.  A little stardom for the COSMIC Rays.  I hope you enjoy the programme and that it helps to give you a little insight to swimming across the English Channel.

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WE DID IT – To France & back in a day (well almost)

On Friday morning my alarm rang at 4am, it had felt only minutes that I had been sleeping after finally getting into bed at 12.30 after packing, preparing food and ensuring I had everything I needed – I also got woken at 3am by a massive thunderstorm which made me wonder if we would actually get to swim in the morning.

Paul and his friend Jen who had very kindly offered to crew for us arrived at mine at 4.45am and we headed down to Dover ready to meet everyone at the Marina for 6.30am.  I was feeling a little nervous as I hadn’t slept much and hadn’t kept my breakfast down that morning (who eats breakfast at 4.15am – no wonder my body didn’t know what to do with it), I had also had some back issues at the beginning of the week and could hardly walk, thankfully my body had decided that it was going to be good to me for the swim.

Sea Satin our boat pulled up along the Jetty and after introductions we started to load the boat up with all of our stuff, you would have thought we were going away for 6 months with the amount we had bought with us.  I had worked it out that we might be missing 4-5 meals so ensured that I was fully stocked with lots of food – it looked more like a children’s birthday party spread; Jam sandwiches, pizza, chocolate logs, ginger biscuits etc..


Before I start on the swim I want to introduce you to who was on the boat;

Me, Paul & Parviz – 3 of the original swimmers (you would have read about us before in a previous blog post.)

Rob – Rob was our stand in swimmer, he literally agreed to join 2 days before the swim. He had only just completed a solo Channel swim 2 weeks previous and had promised his wife he wouldn’t be doing another for quite some time. Thank you Penelope for allowing him to join us, we wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.

Patrick – I have spoke about Patrick, ‘the bionic boy‘ before.  Patrick was onboard being our social media guru and tweeting on behalf of COSMIC throughout.  It was great to have him aboard.

Rod – Rod was one of our crew, their role is vital in Channel swimming whether it is a solo or a relay.  Rod had responded to a facebook request I had put on one of the channel swimming groups and offered to come and crew for us.  Rod was amazing, he didn’t once sleep, he was there letting us know when we were next in the water, handing us towels, slapping Vaseline on us, hot drinks, letting us know how long we had been in the water by holding up signs/flashing torches at us – he didn’t stop once.  Thank you so much Rod, you made our swim so much easier because of your support.

Jen – Jen is a friend of Paul’s who again volunteered to come and support us on our journey.  She again was there supporting us every minute of the trip helping out with all aspects of keeping us swimmers well, warm and ready.  Without our support crew there is no way we would have finished our swim so again Jen thank you.

Observers – Our Observers were Del & Mike.  Their role is to ensure that we are adhering to Channel Swimming rules.  They are checking we have the right swimming gear on that isn’t against the rules, that our change overs in the water are correct but also that we are well and healthy – they watch you throughout the swim making notes.  They have seen many swims over the years and are a great source of information about Channel swimming and both thoroughly nice guys.  Del loved that I had lots of brightly coloured swimming costumes and was the person that picked which one I was going to wear on the next swim (7 out of the 10 of them got to have a swim). Thanks both for your support and knowledge but most importantly good humour throughout our crossing.

Mike being interviewed by the BBC as we have swam through the night and daylight appears

Mike being interviewed by the BBC as we have swam through the night and daylight appears

Pilots – Lance was our main pilot, he is from a Channel swimming piloting family.  He was also supported by Paul.  They have two of them to ensure that one can get some sleep from time to time.  Their role is to guide us across the channel working out the best journey to take maximising the tides to ensure that we get there and back.  They also have responsibility for our safety along with the Observers and at any point would make the call to abort a swim – which could be because of weather or swimmers health.  Thank you both for getting us there and back in one piece successfully, we all appreciated it so much.

Jack filming as the mist cleared

Jack filming as the mist cleared

Camera crew – We were joined by Jack & Amber from the BBC who are filming a documentary about the Channel.  It was great to have them on board and to follow our journey, although I am hoping they don’t show some of the footage they filmed eg me being sea sick overboard. I will let you all know when it will be on TV so you can see some of our journey through the lens.


So off the thirteen of us went.  Lance drove us around to Shakespeare’s beach where I had to jump off the boat and swim in to shore and clear the water.  I stood there waiting for the klaxon to go and that was my cue to start swimming.  Off I went, it was very misty throughout most of our swim.  We swam in rotation throughout as stated in the rules, me followed by Paul, Rob and then Parviz.  As Parviz got in for his 3rd swim (we had been going 11 hours at this stage) the mist started to clear and we could see France in the distance, this was such a great feeling as we hadn’t seen anything all day.  Parivz hit French soil at 11 hours 41 minutes (this was so much quicker than my relay last year which took 14 hour 12 minutes).


As Parviz cleared the water a French guy came running down the beach and pat his back saying ‘Braveau Englishman’ little did he know he was going to get back in the water and carrying on swimming.  Many of my friends didn’t realise that we would be turning around and swimming back straight away.  The sun was setting and there wasn’t much light left which meant when I was to get in at 8pm that it was going to be pitch black.  Lance had gone in a small rubber dingy to follow Parviz into land and was now leading him along the coast to the point so that we could try to get onto the current at the end of the Cap to push us out to sea a bit.


So at 8pm I jumped in for my 4th swim in the pitch black.  This was the bit I was dreading the most, I had worked out that I would be swimming at 8pm, 12am and 4am – 3 night swims.  My nightmare!  The first night swim I really didn’t enjoy. As we were coming out lobster pots kept getting in the way of the boat so we were having to manoeuvre around them.  Once we got out and past them I was then swimming next to the boat with a spot light on the side to guide me.  I kept having a bit of a freak out every time I swam past it into the dark.  It was like I kept swimming into a wall and would just stop swimming, at one point I looked up at Paul (support pilot) and asked if he would go a bit faster and keep the light in front of me which from then on he did which I can’t thank him enough for.  Paul hadn’t swam in the night before either so it was a first for him and I think he wasn’t the biggest fan of the experience either.  It is funny as I know people who love the night swim but it is something that I am really going to have to work on for next year.

My second night swim at midnight wasn’t so bad, I hadn’t managed to get any sleep and earlier on in the day I had been sea sick and still didn’t feel much like eating so I grabbed a few jelly babies and jumped in the water.  I really noticed how much colder the water was and it took my breath away as I jumped in. At this point most people on the boat were asleep but it was always good to know that Rod, Paul and Del/Mike were looking over me.  To try and take my mind off swimming in the dark I started racing the boat.  Paul had agreed that whenever I got close to the light he would speed up and therefore I would end up off the back of the boat and then spend my time trying to swim back up to the light again.

My last night swim I really wasn’t looking forward to.  It was incredibly misty and I still hadn’t slept meaning I had had about 5 hours sleep over 48 hours and only managed to eat 2 slices of pizza and a few jelly babies.  As I jumped in I felt the cold again but decided to swim quickly to try and get warm and also try to push us forward more so that I might not have to swim again.  It was very eary swimming not just a night but in the mist as well.  I could hear fog horns going off all around me and one seemed to be getting closer and closer, just as I thought it was too close the boat stopped (meaning I went ahead of the light…arrgghhh!) so I stopped and asked what the problem was.  It seemed there was a massive vessel a couple of hundred metres in front of us and they had decided we were a bit too close so I had to tread water for a bit until they were happy to proceed.  That was the weird thing about swimming in the dark, you knew there were massive boats all around you as you could feel the waves they left behind from time to time as they passed but you had no idea how close they were.  At one point I also got headbutted by something, I reckon it must have been a jellyfish or fish of some sort but it gave me a massive fright and I did ashamedly let out a girly scream as I took a breath! Ha ha…


When I got out we had 5 miles left to go, so it was touch and go whether I would be getting back in again.  As it turned out I was lucky enough to get the last leg into land, it was my 7th swim and I was determined not to have to swim for a full hour.  I didn’t know if I would make it or not as it was so misty I couldn’t see a thing but as we got close to land the mist cleared and I could see the White Cliffs of Dover ahead, I decided that I was going to try and land.  I could see land but had no idea how far it was and how long it would take me.  As I got closer to the beach Sea Satin stopped and I looked around and saw Lance in the small dingy boat leading me into shore.  We had almost done it, I was so excited.  As I walked up on to the shore the klaxon went marking the end of our swim.  We were successful – 24 hours 45 minutes.  Next minute I saw my dear friend Paul swimming in and I gave him a massive hug.  Paul and I have swam many swims together over the years including the relay last year so I was so pleased to have been able to share that moment with him.  It would have been nice for the whole team to have swam in but Parviz was feeling cold and Rob hadn’t been very well for the last few hours but we heard them cheering from the boat.

The proof we made it!

The proof we made it!

It was an amazing experience with a fantastic team of people and by that I mean every one of those 13 people on the boat who were part of our success.  There wasn’t a hint of grumpiness or negativity across anyone on the boat at any time throughout the swim.  Everyone was so cheery and supportive.  We did the swim a lot faster than I expected landing at 8.44am – we would be home for lunch!

I learnt a lot about myself during this swim;
– Firstly my body can cope with not having much sleep, lack of food and still accomplish amazing things.
– Secondly I still don’t like swimming in the dark
– And thirdly I am not always grumpy when I am tired and hungry!

Now some time to rest until I start thinking about my training for next year’s even bigger challenge!

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Mystical Swimming

So we have started, it’s very misty out here and the fog horn keeps going off every few minutes as there are boats close by we can’t see.

My first swim was against the tide but made some good ground. Paul has about 5 minutes left and then Rob our last minute swimmer is just about to jump in.

Two weeks ago he swam his solo channel swim to France 12hrs 57 minutes. He received an email from me this week when we realised we might be going on Friday and our reserve swimmer Brian wasn’t available and agreed to help us out by swimming for us. He wasn’t expecting to be in the channel again so soon 🙂

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