English Channel Relay Swim 2019

Thank you

Thank you all so much

We did it in 15 hours 7 minutes

The Team Alan Richard Suzanne Stephen and Kieran
5 person relay – Team Swim Tayka

I was beginning to wonder when it would happen so I didn’t want to risk believing it when we were told it was happening Thursday. My plan was to just carry on as normal so that meant a very tough Spin class followed by an abdominals class on Thursday morning at 6.45am followed by work.  The confirmation came at 1pm so I signed off from work and made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and took the dogs for a walk.  A massive pasta dinner followed by a lay down,  I couldn’t sleep so I rested and before I knew it Tim was taking me down  to Dover  marina at 9.45pm.

I was met by Meach one of my Canterbury Rugby club friends and I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. 

My emotions were already running high. With goodbyes said, we were on the boat and set off for Samphire Hoe at 10.45pm. https://www.facebook.com/419404945323421/videos/938318253181074/?t=8

Our first swimmer Alan was dropped off to swim to the beach. He stood up and then the Claxton on the boat sounded for him to start his first swim  it was 11.23pm.  We have jobs besides swimming so my first job was to support the #1 swimmer and then observe him for the whole hour making sure he is okay.  Swimmers #4 and 5 were stood down and told to get a bunk and sleep.  #2 swimmer was to relax and get ready to swim. 

All set ready to swim

My first swim came at 1.23am those who know me know I am an 8 hour sleep girl and I don’t do well on sleep deprivation so it was amazing I was even awake.  I jumped off the boat and Richard got on and my first swim started.  I have done night swims and I have  practiced swimming  alongside the boat but this was really tough.   https://www.facebook.com/419404945323421/videos/492649668205024/?t=4

It was pitch black and choppy as a result it was very easy to become disorientated with waves crashing over you from left hitting the boat and coming back from the right. It was like being in a washing machine. You can’t see anything in front, or to the left only the dazzling lights from the boat to your right and your only job is to keep the boat parallel to your  right and swim as fast as you can for the whole hour.  You have absolutely  no concept of time or distance but you cannot lose focus and slow down the pace has to be maintained.   My first thought was ‘god what am I doing, I am not sure if I can maintain this speed’.  My second thought was to all you amazing people that have supported me and at that point I knew I wasn’t letting anyone down.   I just kept swimming.   There is a spot light from boat shining on you as you swim but invariably it shines in your eyes adding to the disorientation so I tried to keep ahead of the boat which is easier than it sounds.    Oddly 55 minutes went fast,  because it was dark I couldn’t see movement on the boat so I wasn’t aware of #4 swimmer getting ready and then I saw the hand signal from Keiran #5 meaning 5 mins it was the longest 5 mins ever.  The changeover was slick (they all were, as we had practiced).

1.23am night swim

I was wrapped in my dry robe by Keiran and then changed out of wet swimsuit into a dry  one my Zoggs and I went to bed for 2 hours.  I didn’t sleep but rested  and I was back up at 4.10am to support the  #1 swimmer for his 2nd swim.   I had an hour of observing, an hour preparing for my next swim. https://www.facebook.com/419404945323421/videos/2382663232014646/?t=7

Getting ready for my second swim
Sunrise

At 6.23am I was back in the  sea for my 2nd  swim.  It was now daylight and the sun was up. The Channel is like a dual  carriage way, a South shipping lane, a separation zone and then the north shipping zone.  With ships going in one direction in the south and the other direction in the north and nothing in the separation. Our job was to cut through them all and head for Cap nez Gris,  Calais.   Our pilot is in constant communication with the coastguard and so the big ships know we are there and it’s their  job to stay out of our  way.  On this day there were about 8 boats out with Channel swimmers in the water we could see them all around us.

So,   I was swimming through the separation zone notorious for jellyfish and seaweed and I saw lots of jellyfish swimming around and beneath me  but  I wasn’t stung.  Again it was still quite choppy but the light made it all that much easier however, it still meant having to breathe uni laterally to the right and I found myself breathing every 2 strokes which is unusual for me.  It was tough but what made it hard was that I could see movement on the boat I can’t say exactly what but I could see #4 swimmer getting ready which plays havoc with you because you honestly have no idea how long you have been swimming but you know you need to keep an eye out for the 5 min signal.  The changeovers are a crucial part of the relay and if you mess it up by being to late or early or touch the person or boat your swim may not be ratified so it’s stressful.  The changeover happened and I was out at this point we wasn’t sure if we would get  a 3rd swim but it was likely so a change into another dry swim suit and bed this time for just an hour enough time to miss the seal playing at the back of the boat. https://www.facebook.com/419404945323421/videos/349070955987337/?t=39

By now the sun was out and it was hot so after eating my slimming World overnight oats which tasted amazing I sunbathed and watched the swimmers only to spot 2 porpoises heading in the opposite direction to Dover.

https://www.facebook.com/419404945323421/videos/401820290456365/?t=8

sunbathing before my 3rd swim

By now France is really visible but still so far away,    we can see the buoy that we need to be on the left off in order to get to the cap.  Sadly the tide pushed us to the right and so we began to see that we were now looking at beaching at Wissant.  This also meant that there was some real pressure on us all to ensure we didn’t get pushed too  far to the right,  as if you get  too  close to Calais Harbour the swim could be  aborted.

At 11.23am, you notice there is an exact time each changeover this is monitored by the swim team  observer, but also the crew who help with the changeover and  also the invigilator.  Yes on every channel swim there is an independent invigilator who monitors and observes the swim.  Geoff our invigilator takes all your medical details, next of kin and monitors every changeover and every swim logging all the key parts even each swimmers stroke rate.

GEtting rady for swim #3

So before I went in Eddie the pilot spoke to me and told me I had to put in my fastast swim ever. He lured me with a pork pie albeit the threat of him throwing it as me if I dared to slow  down although I told him I was more likely to swim faster at the offer of a pint at the end.  So I got in,  it was getting choppy again as neared the French coast, but as before I could see absolutely nothing only the boat to my right.  Which was rocking like mad with the rails and then the keel.  My only focus was swim fast faster and stay parallel with the boat.  At one point I could see Kieran pointing and I was worried that I wasn’t swimming fast enough it turns out there had been a baby ‘sun fish’ swimming on the other side of the boat which then came under the boat to my side.  Sun fish are incredibly rare mostly seen in the tropics and they can grow to a couple of tons in weight luckily this was a baby but of course I had no idea.  https://www.facebook.com/419404945323421/videos/676763196123286/?t=10

So I swam for my pride and eventually I got the sign,  I was gutted as I knew that this was my last swim apart from going to shore,   I was in the zone and was loving it.  I came out of the water up the steps with a huge grin on my face I was I happy.

As it happens we weren’t allowed to go to shore.  Kieran #5 was swimming but his hour was close to being up so Alan got back in the water and they did the changeover in the water being given the exact time by Rob (crew) in the rib boat looked at carefully by the invigilator on the boat.  So Alan went in first and Kieran as he was in the water 2nd.  Alan had to land unaided and not touch anyone or anything and wave his hands at that point the time is clocked 14.29 meaning 15 hours 7.mins.  Alan had swum for 7 mins on his 4th swim.  Kieran followed and they were  met by an English Couple on the beach who were incredulous that we had swam overnight.  https://www.facebook.com/419404945323421/videos/2382243212021274/

It must be said that at this point the tide was turning and if the pilot had let us all out of the boat there was the concern that we may not have all made it due to the tide turning again.

Bryan (our team manager), Richard, Stephen  & I stayed on the boat and popped the prosecco.   The swimmers are allowed to stay on the beach for 10 minutes then the  Claxton  sounds and its time for them to swim to the rib boat and be brought back to the main boat, any longer than 10 mins and the French authorities consider them as imigrants.

Exhausted on way back home to Dover

We then had a 2 1/2 hour journey back to Dover Marina at 8knots.  Some of the crew fell asleep or dozed but Stephen Kieran and I were literally buzzing.  We celebrated with a drink at the premier Inn and then dinner and drinks at Cullens Yard before crashing.

It has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  The training has been tough with me facing many fears and bouts of self doubt and confidence but the hours I spent getting myself swim fit and sea acclimatised really paid off.

When you get this message on Facebook you know there is a possibility

There wasn’t meant to be a training week 24 or 25

When you sign up to swim the English Channel (relay or solo) you are given a swim window, mine was 17th to 21st July. In that window swimmers are given slots #1 to #4 we were number 2. I know a solo swimmer was #1 in our window.

Having a swim window is literally a window. At the end of the day when you go completely depends on the weather & tide in relation to your expected time it will take, but its the pilot that makes the final decision.

I am not sure when I first heard the term ‘Dovercoaster’ and I had no idea what it meant until our window opened. We were asked if we could go early but unfortunately not all the team were available but on Monday 15th July 2 days before our window opened we were put on standby to expect a call to go on Wednesday 17th. My bags were packed, my food was ready and I was up for it. I was excited and raring to go & on a real high. Monday night was exciting as a number of channel swimmers were out and it was feeling like we may really be doing this. I was keeping an eye on the weather and everything was crossed. Tuesday I had to work and luckily I was busy, but I could see a change in the weather & it wasn’t looking good I felt a bit low. Tuesday night the #1 slot a solo swimmer was out, so I started to feel excited again. We had a team conference call Wednesday & the swim was postponed until Friday 19th. I decided to work and cancel my leave and I did feel low especially as I was watching the weather and it was looking worse. I took leave on Thursday as I was distracted. Friday 19th loomed and the swim was postponed until Sunday 21st. By Friday afternoon the swim was completely off, the wind had got up. This waiting, the high and the lows, the emotion is what they call the ‘Dovercoaster’ and something pretty much all Channel swimmers experience although they may not know the term.

The Dovercoaster

One of the many benefits (and there are 100’s) of being a Dover Channel Training (DCT) member is that you hear people’s stories and it helps prepare you for what might be. So I had a feeling that we may not go in our allotted window. I thought long and hard about how that may feel like and I thought I could handle it and I did alright until Sunday 21st when I just had a massive wobble. The stress just hit me, all this training, all the effort to get myself ready, my emotions were running high. I was worrying because I was going to Italy, the fact I need to now focus on my cycling over swimming, the list goes on. This is unlike all the other sports I have done as you have no control of when you go.

Another benefit of being a DCT member is that people can see through you. Sunday 21st down at the beach I thought I was hiding my emotions but it seems not. I hated my first 90 minute swim and I was ready to go home. I was talked into another swim, & told that another swim to finish on a positive would make a massive difference. It was so true I only did 21 minutes but it really had the impact I needed. If you ever consider swimming the channel get down and join this group. Besides the training you learn so much from them, they help you mentally prepare, plus you gain a whole lot of new ‘ like minded’ friends who know exactly what you are going through.

Last week was emotional so in addition to the wonderful DCT friends including Lauren, Emma and Catherine, a big thank you to Pete and Michelle for finding me on the beach last Sunday and saying hello.

What helped me this week is having a family wedding in Ravello Italy and it was straight back to training on Sunday.

Back to Training Sunday 28th July 2019

So the question I am now being asked is what does it mean when you miss your window? Firstly we need to try and work out when the team is available. Imagine trying to organise a meeting at short notice in the holidays between 6 work colleagues who live all over the country. Then try to tie that in with your manager. Then consider that the paid meeting room has other bookings that you have to work around and it’s open air so you need to get the weather right. Right now that’s our team, what I do know is that we will be #5 slot on (hopefully) a window coming soon! Without sounding too pessimistic there is a possibility that we may not get another window this year and may have to move to next year. But let’s keep positive.

So I am on the good old Dovercoaster and keeping all things crossed for it to end soon.

The big news is that there is a possibility we could be going Friday.

Its on, its off, its definately off

Sadly waking up Wednesday morning, was the reality that the weather was changing, and so sadly the swim was moved to Friday, and we are back waiting. There was nothing more than to cancel my leave, and get back to work. Sorry folks thats all for now I have next terms modules to sort out.

its this week….. Monday & Tuesday our swim window is open for business

Monday, comes along and I am calm as a cucumber I get up and go for my usual triple at the gym. A triple is a Spin class, a leisurely swim (10 lengths as it was full of walkers – thats another story), a body combat class and a spin class. To tell the truth I was knackered and I felt weary but hey I was occupied. Later on I took the dogs out for a two hour walk, and spent the evening making batch meals for the freezer anything to keep my mind off things. I got a bad case of ‘trackeritus’ for those of you new to this (and bear with me I am fairly new), there is a Channel Swimming season, and when it starts you can start to track the swimmers, via their pilot boats. Of course for a while its been fine as I havent known many swimmers, but this week oh my, its been pretty much every day when I have known one of the swimmers from Dover Channel Training (DCT). Monday night was no exception and it started around 10.30pm but alas I had to get some sleep. Tuesday I was back at work, and waiting for messages to see how they had all got on! Its addictive once you start tracking you cant stop. You are absolutely wishing them on to crack this marvellous thing, its also interesting to see what route they take, and then try to second guess why. The good thing is that the Dover Channel Training group facebook page comes alive and is all over the tracking, so alongside the tracker you have people explaining what is happening, its amazing to say the least. Then in addition to this there are the fabulous support crews on board the pilot boats helping to stir up the morale of the swimmer, feed them etc, and generally they also update the onlookers via Facebook and so you begin to piece together the story. And its addictive, highly addictive but one of the reasons I love it so much is not only sharing the journey, but also seeing what happens when they land (and sadly sometimes they dont). I have been part of some of these swimmers journeys down at Dover beach so it always means something else when you see what they achieve.

The CPSF Swim Tracker

So, Tuesday is a whole different being, I am tired having slept terribly dreaming of channel swimming. Its also potentially my last day at work for a couple of weeks (I have a family wedding next week in Italy). Its also the last day of term for my students, which means year 3’s are leaving today, not officially as they still have assignments to hand in, but my last chance to see them. So my aim today is distract myself with work, this is largely pretty tough simply because everyone knows that the swim is iminent, but I do my best. My evening is spent baking cup cakes and brownies. I am then back on tracker duty watching another beach buddy as she takes off on her solo swim with Anastasia. There are lots of questions coming at us, would we swim in force 3, 4 or 5. You feel high and then feel not so high, my answer to the question would I swim in a force 3+ by the way was a yes. Partly due to the fact that I have been in the sea pretty much every weekend since 1st March, and consistently since May with the Dover Channel Training, and we have been out in some choppy seas. I am not saying I would like it, but I am confident (can you hear me say that), even I had to read it twice!! I am confident, and I am determined. Our last instruction was that Anastasia was going out at 11.30pm with my beach buddy on board from DCT, and that we should keep our phones besides the bed and wait further instruction. We are on standy Swim Tayka.

My training journey

I talk about discipline, motivation, and determination as a factor in my training.   I need a motivation, something to aim for whether that’s in swimming, cycling or my personal life such as losing weight.  I am motivated to do something and then I need the discipline and this normally comes hand in hand with a  lovely little plan, sometimes a spreadsheet to track what I do, and I plan ahead.   I am a planner but sometimes this planning ahead for me doesn’t always work because it’s to big, or to far ahead and it plays havoc with my determination. 

Its what I call doing a Bridget Jones thing.    Because like Bridget with all the will in the world, it doesn’t stick, I lose my way and I end up failing.  Then what happens is that I tend to go the other way, so if its about losing weight, I end up binging on all the bad things.  I know exactly how I am wired, and I know what happens so I try not to do set myself these unachievable plans, or goals.   What I need to do is just set a small goal, something I can do and something I can build on day by day:

For some people their goal may be even smaller, I always say to people at the gym, that making it out of the front door is a massive achievement, for some just putting on the clothes is a step in the right direction.  I don’t really have a problem with going to the gym, but what I do sometimes have an issue with is when I am tired and I don’t feel like it, what then. 

I didn’t set out on this challenge to swim the English Channel as a relay, of course that was always in the back of my head as my ultimate goal.  But I broke it down into chunks that I could personally deal with.  I created a discipline that I wanted to become the normal for me, something I would start to do with out thinking about it.  I think there were three key things that I aimed for:

  1. Fitting in a pool Session and doing more than 80 lengths in the pool,
  2. Getting in the sea.
  3. Writing  a journal to document  my journey to keep me motivated. 

Every week I was achieving something more, and it was becoming more regular, and I wasn’t thinking about it, I was just doing it and continue to do it.  As I went through the weeks I  saw my confidence grow and grow, and what I was doing increase.   Within about 6 weeks I was able to swim two hours in the pool.   By the 19th May I swam my 2-hour qualifier in the sea in a temperature of 12.2c.  And my journal is amazing, just reading back to the early days gives me such as massive boost on this journey, and as I used to write it I could this relay swim become a reality.   

People ask me what my training looked like;  I don’t think I did anything extraordinary except get in the sea.  I spoke with my team manager mid-February, and was talking about my training and all I heard him say was you need to get in the sea.  Honestly I couldn’t contemplate it,  for one its freezing outside let alone the sea temperature which at the time was 7’c.  But also the sea looks so uninviting.  But I listened to him and made that huge step on 1st March for 5 mins.  Other than that

Monday a triple class – spin, combat and spin with a swim or 2 thrown in

Tuesday – a HiiT and Core abs hour followed by clinical pilates

Wednesday – a swim followed by a body combat class

Thursday –  a spin class followed by a core abs class

Friday – body pump class, followed by pilates for fitness and a spin class.

Saturday – Swim and body Combat followed by a  Hiit Class and eventually,  just a swim.

Sunday – sometimes a rest day, sometimes a cycle, and then in May swim.

Some fo you will know that I also love to cycle so I have been trying to fit in my cycle training throughout, although that hasnt always been easy, but once this relay is done I literally have a few weeks before setting off on a cycling holiday in the USA.

Week 23 – this is my final week of training!

On Saturday, I was down to Hythe Beach, it was here simply because Dover Regatta was on, postponed after the dreadful weather in June.  It was a beautiful spot outside the sailing club, with buoys setting  out our swim zone.  There were less of us swimming today, possibly because it was Hythe and maybe because it was boot camp weekend?  Either way it was a good session.  I did my first 90 mins and really enjoyed it, apart from the obvious jelly stings.  In the week Tim had been telling me I needed to experience the whole jelly experience before my swim,  I of course didn’t consider for one minute this would mean literately a body full of the little suckers.  Luck (!!!???**) would have it, that they only left a little rash which went within a couple of hours.  Yep even the one to the face.  My second swim was just as good as the first, although a little choppier,  and less jellies to contend with.  This was my first opportunity really of experiencing the tides so it was easy going down towards the Hythe Imperial and a real fight coming back.   I sat talking with Anton on the beach after my swim, he had done the solo yesterday, and after 10 hours 30 mins had been pulled out, and I had the most incredible humbling conversation with him,  he had done so well and thought he was on track, but as always sometimes the sea had other ideas.  So sad for him.

Sunday saw me going back to down to Dover beach.  My last swim training opportunity today, and there is no other place I would rather go than down to Dover to be with Dover Channel Training group! I felt quite emotional on the drive down to the beach as its been one hell of an experience so far and seeing some of my beach buddies made it all feel so real. Hearing stories from some recent channel swimmers, sharing. excitement with some about to go – like ours. Literally my English Channel Relay Swim 2019 is a matter of days away and I am so ready for this! #ECRS2019

I met up with a few buddies and actually Alexa came on to the beach for her first swim without a wet suit.  I said I was happy to stick with her for a two hour swim,  It was pretty choppy out there to be honest but weirdly when we got to the wall it was flat calm and lovely but then really tough trying to get back.  We did 1 hour 50 mins to be honest I was pleased as my shoulder was sore, and I was aware it was my last session, and plus I promised Tim a bike ride.  Alexa was pleased as it was almost two hours without a wet suit which is a massive deal, because even though its 18’c its cold.  I got one jelly sting today, so that was good.  However, things were about to change.  I got changed had a chat on the beach with a few people including Guy who did the solo last week, and Halani who is in the slot for a solo before our boat, due to go Tuesday night. 

So I got home and it was a quick chat and back out with Tim on our road bikes,  we just did 36 miles but it was quite eventful.  We got out to Sandwich and just before the town, I was stung, not sure if it was a wasp but it was right on the neck so of course for the next 12 mins I was in a panic worried about shock,  but all was okay.  Later on I actually thought it may have been a horse fly sting.  Coming out of Sandwich (just before the right turn to Richborough), I heard Tim chuckle,  obviously because he knew what was coming, as right in front of me was a grass snake about a metre long I (of course) screamed out loud and luckily missed it.  But I was quite shaken for a while, it brought back memories of Taiwan last year. For those who know me, know that I really have a dislike of snakes and have done forever.  We stopped off in Hoath at the prince of Wales for a shandy,  and then later on at home after a dog walk, Tim made me a huge roast beef dinner!!  I literally ate the lot, greedy greedy, or just damn hungry all the time. You decide.

When you just get thinking

All I can think about sometimes is swimming, I go to sleep thinking about it, I wake up thinking about it, when I am swimming I even think about it. Its consumed me. But I occasionally I also think about other things too, and today I was flicking through photos and I came across these photos, and it made me reflect on this journey, and remind me how far I have come.

It was between August & December 2017 when I started experiencing pain and very quickly I found standing and sitting extremely painful and so laying down became the normal. I stopped exercising apart from the odd walk and swim (forced on me by my physio) which always ended in tears. I spent most of my day and night laying down in pain I cant describe. I was on so many drugs I was pretty much out of it all of the time.

The photographs top: me 4 days after surgery going out for my first walk. Left to Right bottom: Me before surgery laying down – this time in the dogs bed. The day of my surgery, and the final photo of all my drugs! I rushed coming off my drugs and so it just took 6 weeks but the effects of the withdrawal was awful and something I never want to experience again.

I had surgery a lumber discectomy on 15th Dec 2017 with an incision through the back muscles, to remove the herniated disc in the lower spine pressing on the nerve. I was promised by the surgeon that if the surgery went well I would walk out of hospital pain free in 24 hours and he was right. Ever since that moment I have learned never to take anything for granted particularly my fitness. I made a slow come back and by the end of April I cycled 110 miles in first sportive and I havent looked back since. So Swimming the channel as a relay is another huge milestone for me.

Week 22 of 23  #English Channel  Relay Swim 2019 w/c 8th July 2019

Glorious day, and I swam for three hours my longest ever swim!

My weekly Video Update week 22

How did it get so close am I ready for it, I was born ready, although actually this has been 5 months in the making?

When I signed up for this following a chat on a ski lift in February, I hadn’t swum for 3 months I had been focusing on running. And, when I did swim it was in a pool. If I am truly honest, I didn’t really know what I was taking on. I have been on massive journey these past 5 months learning more about myself along the way, both good and not so good and I have found a whole new bunch of friends. If I could relive that moment on the chair lift when Bryan offered me the 6th place in the relay would I answer differently, no I wouldn’t because although it’s been physically and mentally tough and frightening at times it’s also been one of the most amazing experiences and I haven’t even got to the part where I swim yet

I read today that we should think of everything you do in life as an experiment where you sometimes get it right and sometimes very wrong. By seeing it as an experiment you learn a lot more from your mistakes & failures. The bigger picture is made up of a series of experiments. Certainly, true of my life! So I have been experimenting and there have been some real memorable moments so far in this experiement.

  • 1st March A cold cold miserable day at Beltinge Beach with my gym buddies Chantal and Tara in support on the beach and Alison who got me started by coming in the sea with me (quite a few times I might add). It was 7’c in the water and I lasted 5 minutes.
  • 6th May swimming for 2 hours in an outdoor pool In Budapest, that set a benchmark proving to myself I could swim for that length of time.
  • 10th May joining the Dover Channel Training group and opening up a whole myriad of support and experiences to draw on but also a whole new group of similarly minded friends.
  • 18th May having swam for 50 mins I had a panic attack when I struggled to get back to the beach from my swim. What makes this a stand out moment is listening to other people experience similar things and getting right back in an hour later & swimming for 1 hour.
  • 19th May having experienced distress the day before completing my 2 hour qualifying swim in a temperature of 12.2c.
  • 26th May just to prove I could, I did another 2 hour session it was 13c.
  • 8th June after the 3am swim was cancelled due to poor weather we finally went in at 10am and it was by far the roughest seas I have swum in. That night the winds had died down and the sea was much calmer I met my Relay team and we went for a night sea together at 10. 30pm. Two highs in one day!
  • 9th June my relay team had a practice on our boat Anastasia learning how to get on and off the boat and do the change overs. It was incredible and the experience gave me so much confidence and it was great to get to know my team too.
  • 15th June after waking up at 1.30am with the alarm I was down at Dover beach for 3am for my first dark to dawn swim This was amazing and I felt confident swimming in the dark
  • 22nd June I swam alone for the first time without any issues or dramas and I actually felt confident in the sea.
  • 29th June it was a real scorcher and I did my double dip 90 mins in, 1 hour out & 90 mins in. It was amazing this was the first time I truly felt like I was in the zone swimming.
  • 6th July a 3 hour swim. It wasn’t part of my training plan but I had a hen weekend to get to and I wanted to fit in a swim so I went for it. The most amazing thing was that after the first 2 hours I felt I could have kept going and after 3 hours I still felt the same. This was the moment when I truly felt ‘I have got this’ .

It’s been one hell of journey so far and I have put my heart and soul into it. But its not over yet, in fact it actually hasn’t started I am just waiting on the call to say we are off and that’s dependent on the weather and tides and could be anytime between 17th and 21st July. My bag is packed, my food is ready, and I literally could run out of the door and get myself to Dover Marina any time.

Thank you for being a part of my journey, for helping me along, supporting me and most of all a huge thank you to those of you who have sponsored me.

Relieve my 3 hours swim

Week 21 of 23  #English Channel  Relay Swim 2019 w/c 1st July 2019

12 days to go before our slot opens – it’s getting close!

Sadly, no video update for some reason Quik for Go Pro has an issue, which they cant fix so I cant make any videos.

Wow what a difference it makes going to the beach in the sunshine just wearing shorts, t- shirt and flip flops and being able to strip off on the beach into just a swimsuit, and sunbathe in between swims.

But firstly looking back to the start of last week

Cycling to the gym at 6am on Monday a bungy came off my town bike & wrapped round the disc brakes & I was close to going over the handlebars. Luckily I managed to stay on the bike but I had to stop a van and ask the workmen for a stanley knife to cut it free. I got to the gym a little late but okay so I got my spin bike sorted, but part way through standing with the resistance turned up high, the pedals jammed & stopped me dead. Luckily I wasn’t injured and I moved bikes. I am not really superstitious (much) but they say things happen in 3’s. Anyway I shoved everything in my basket and slowly rode home (slowly because it was making a horrible noise and I was worried about the 3rd thing happening). I got home in one piece (phew) emptied my basket and my phone screen was smashed. That moment when you just want to cry, I gave myself a talking to and told myself it’s only a phone (no matter that its only about 2 months old). And took it on the chin that it was my #3. C is for clumsy (more on that later). As it happens it was only the glass screen saver and my bike was soon fixed by my lovely husband Tim.

So things could only get better right? The mini heat wave was forecast for Saturday and it was a scorcher. I was back to Dover for a 9am swim on Saturday and did 90 mins around the harbour. It was glorious and once I got over the first piece of seaweed floating into my face (at least that’s what I am telling myself it was), I settled into the swim. I had an hour on the beach, I towel dried myself and put on a dry swim suit as I said earlier I sunbathed. Such a joyous thing and there wasnt one shiver that left my lips today. Anyway after an hour I was back in the water it was 16’c, a little swell and the sun was out. I set myself two circuits and “no looking” at my watch. I have to say it was so enjoyable, my mind was elsewhere and the swim was pleasurable from start to finish. Not going to lie on the final straight home my shoulder started to hurt but I zoned out as I was finishing this swim regardless. That’s the first time I haven’t clock watched and the first time I have just settled down and not had any fear or confidence issues, and most importantly just enjoyed the swim. So much so I couldn’t wait for Sunday swim.

Sunday well how different a day is, sunny but there were clouds and a brisk wind. The sea looked good but once in, it became very apparent that it was indeed pretty choppy. On my journey to Dover listening to Good Morning Sunday with the guest ‘Rappaman’ he suggested that listeners should take each letter of the alphabet and describe how we see our selves. Hence C for clumsy! I tried really hard to make that game my focus for my 90 minute swim whilst battling with the waves but it was tough and I ended up taking it into my cycle ride later too. Anyway the swim was good, partly because I actually enjoyed the conditions. However when I got out there were some shivers and no sunbathing. 
A is for adventurous, B is for beaming (that came to me after the swim as I literally was), C is for clumsy, D is for dizzy, E is for early as I always am….. I actually got to W whilst our for my bike ride with Tim in the afternoon, a glorious 50 mile training ride with the rucksack. This is definatley a game to finish next week!

left to right top: Ady speaking to Hugh in the background, me and Anton a soloist, me and Chris another soloist.

Left to right bottom; Me!

So time is ticking on and it’s literally 12 days before our slot opens. This weekend was a break through moment when I actually thought yep I am ready. My confidence took a real boost on Saturday experiencing the good weather and on Sunday the choppy sea, lots of waves, taking on board water and actually enjoying my swim even though I had no swim buddies. How far I have come.

Week 20 of 23 #English Channel Relay Swim 2019 w/c 24th June 2019

Be relentless
Refuse to quit
Face the pressure
No challenge, no greatness

19 days until our swim slot opens, check out my weekly update video https://youtu.be/WgxHzLwE05k

A friend sent me a link to a motivational video last week and the above words struck a chord. There have been times over the last 20 weeks when I have looked at myself in mirror and said why? What were you thinking? And there have been a few tears but on the flip side of that I now look in the mirror and say I can do this, and I see a much more confident me and less tears. So when I watched the video these words resonated with me about my journey. It is and continues to be a massive challenge but I am not doing it for greatness, or to prove anything to anyone else. This is not bravado just something I want to do for me and prove to myself that I can do it.

The video was actually the lift I needed to remind myself how far I have come and give me one last push for the last few weeks of training, particularly as this last week has been tough. The niggle in my shoulder persisted, but I was given some stretches and I reduced my training in an attempt to rest it. As a result it felt much better going into the weekend.

A glorious day on Saturday and I was back at the beach for a 9am start. The sea was calm, a low tide and I was in the water quickly and swimming straight away and my shoulder felt good. I was fast and down to the Eastern docks wall in super quick time in fact my fastest and once again I was swimming on my own which I really enjoyed. I was out after 90 minutes for an hour enough time to dry off, put a dry swimsuit on and eat some overnight oats. It was also enough time for me to meet someone who is not only a massive inspiration but also a huge support. I was first introduced to Catherine by my Uni friend Helen who shared the tracking of her solo English Channel swim last year on 3rd August 2018. I watched her crossing the channel and was on awe and I didn’t ever think that our paths would cross particularly in swimming! But when I mentioned I was doing a relay to Helen she immediately put me in touch with Catherine who besides the solo has also done a number of relays too, and she buddied us up, the rest is history. Catherine has encouraged me, helped me believe in myself and my training. And above all she has shared her experiences, and given me so many tips. She was the one that encouraged me to join Dover Channel Training amongst other things and I am so grateful to her and Helen for putting me in touch. So it was lovely to finally get to meet her on the beach last week and say thank you. I should add that many swimmers come back to the beach after their swims volunteering. You learn so much from the volunteers so it’s great that they do come back.

So having met Catherine it was time to go back in for another swim its called a double dip and it’s important to get your body used to getting in and out of the cold water especially for relay swimmers. The second swim was incredibly hard the wind had got up and the sea had changed to being choppy and with my shoulder hurting the next 90 minutes was hard. I got out and once again I got talking to some incredible people on the beach. I happened to notice the ice cream van and mentioned that I hoped that it took google pay when the lovely gentleman I was talking to brought me and another chap a 99 ice cream. Such kindness! Oh my god did it taste good too.

99’s have never tasted so good

As Saturday went on my shoulder pain got worse and worse. My nights sleep was fitful to say the least and when I got up I still had pain so I decided not to swim on Sunday. It was an incredibly difficult decision to make but the right one and this week my shoulder has improved.

Having rested my shoulder this week it feels much better, and I am feeling good about the weekend of swimming especially if we get the mini heatwave the weather forecasters are promising.

Week 19 of 23 #English Channel Relay Swim 2019 w/c 17th June 2019

Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.- Theodore Roosevelt.

This is so true of me every time I get into the sea and face my demon’s the more confident I get. And last week I experienced a slightly different me!

I went to bed at 9pm on Friday and my alarm was set for 1.30am to fit in a 3am sea swim at Dover Harbour with the channel training group. There were 50+ swimmers down at the beach sporting the green flashing lights looking like a mixture of the Bee movie and Alien. For safety reasons swimmers have to wear a green flashing light on the back of the goggles and one lower down on their swim suit. One of the volunteers had been out and put red lights on the small circuit so we could navigate safely round our swim zone swimming anti clockwise to the yellow bouys up to the red bouys left to the green bouy and head back towards the beach where we would pass a kayaker & shout out the number on your hand. He then radioed your number to the volunteer on the beach so they knew who was in and where. It was cold but calm, and it was actually quite nice swimming in the dark. Dawn just passed me by to be honest but as soon as it got light the circuit increased and we all swam a larger circuit towards the Eastern wall and back. I swam for 2 hours and my feet were so cold that I didn’t feel the rocks as I got out and I cut my feet and I wasn’t the only one. Nothing bad for me just some scrapes a bit like paper cuts.

On the beach I was literally frozen so I put on my new dry robe (definately looking the part now) and was able to remove my wet swimsuit with ease whilst staying warm. With a dry swimsuit on I sat in my dry robe and hat/gloves and had a cup of tea from my flask. At 6.15am I was ready to go back in for another hour. It was lovely and I really enjoyed the swim with time passing quickly. I was back home for 9am and in bed desperate for an hour or 2 sleep at 9.30am. I didn’t manage any sleep. but I did rest.

The next day I was back down to Dover for 8.30am. It was busy on the beach but I found my pitch and got ready. It was windy today and the sea was choppy, its hard to see just how much until you get in to be honest but it was one of them days when breathing wasn’t easy on either side without taking in a gulp of water from time to time. We were advised to turn short of the harbour wall due to conditions so I did. I swam today alone (although part of a larger group I wasn’t buddied up) and it was fine. I am starting to learn how to lose my thoughts and not worry about time or distance for a short time and that’s due to me facing my fears and building up my confidence . However, I did find the swim tough and I could feel a niggle in my shoulder. I had experienced it yesterday but today it was there especially on the pull through the water. So when I came in after 90 minutes I decided not to go back in and rest my shoulder. I have rested it all week just to be safe & got some physio advice too.

It’s just 26 days before my swim slot opens on 17th and when we go is dependent on the weather/ tides, the final decision is with our pilot Eddie. Check out my weekly update video

Week 18 of 23 #ECRS2019 w/c 10th June 2019

‘Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing’ Theodore Roosevelt.

Take a look at my weekly update video

This is so true of me every time I get into the sea and face my demon’s the more confident I get. And last week I experienced a slightly different me!

I went to bed at 9pm on Friday and my alarm was set for 1.30am to fit in a 3am sea swim at Dover Harbour with the channel training group. There were 50+ swimmers down at the beach sporting the green flashing lights looking like a mixture of the Bee movie and Alien. For safety reasons swimmers have to wear a green flashing light on the back of the goggles and one lower down on their swim suit. One of the volunteers had been out and put red lights on the small circuit so we could navigate safely round our swim zone swimming anti clockwise to the yellow bouys up to the red bouys left to the green bouy and head back towards the beach where we would pass a kayaker & shout out the number on your hand. He then radioed your number to the volunteer on the beach so they knew who was in and where. It was cold but calm, and it was actually quite nice swimming in the dark. Dawn just passed me by to be honest but as soon as it got light the circuit increased and we all swam a larger circuit towards the Eastern wall and back. I swam for 2 hours and my feet were so cold that I didn’t feel the rocks as I got out and I cut my feet and I wasn’t the only one. Nothing bad for me just some scrapes a bit like paper cuts.

On the beach I was literally frozen so I put on my new dry robe (definately looking the part now) and was able to remove my wet swimsuit with ease whilst staying warm. With a dry swimsuit on I sat in my dry robe and hat/gloves and had a cup of tea from my flask. At 6.15am I was ready to go back in for another hour. It was lovely and I really enjoyed the swim with time passing quickly. I was back home for 9am and in bed desperate for an hour or 2 sleep at 9.30am. I didn’t manage any sleep. but I did rest.

The next day I was back down to Dover for 8.30am. It was busy on the beach but I found my pitch and got ready. It was windy today and the sea was choppy, its hard to see just how much until you get in to be honest but it was one of them days when breathing wasn’t easy on either side without taking in a gulp of water from time to time. We were advised to turn short of the harbour wall due to conditions so I did. I swam today alone (although part of a larger group I wasn’t buddied up) and it was fine. I am starting to learn how to lose my thoughts and not worry about time or distance for a short time and that’s due to me facing my fears and building up my confidence . However, I did find the swim tough and I could feel a niggle in my shoulder. I had experienced it yesterday but today it was there especially on the pull through the water. So when I came in after 90 minutes I decided not to go back in and rest my shoulder. I have rested it all week just to be safe & got some physio advice too.

It’s just 26 days before my swim slot opens on 17th and when we go is dependent on the weather/ tides, the final decision is with our pilot Eddie.

Week 17 of 23 #ECRS2019 w/c 3rd June 2019

33 days to go. My weekly update video

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best! That’s what got Tim and I through our Taiwan cycle holiday last year. For most of our tours we haven’t needed my plans but your luck can only last so long & it was enivitable that something could go wrong eventually. In Taiwan I had to be really vigilant about knowing where to get water I researched it before going and and I had all the information at hand and we had to use it and so didn’t go without. But my planning came into its own when Tim fell ill and he literally didn’t have anything left in him to cycle to our destination, no public transport, and barely any civilisation, google translate works great when they have a phone! My plan B and C saved the day. I had been so close not to do the level of detailed planning this year but preparing for the worse actually saved the day! Of course I am sure we could have got sorted eventually but it was our holiday and we wanted to enjoy it as best we could.

So last weekend was (for me) about preparing for the worst in relation to my channel swim. You can’t just jump in the sea, and think it will be alright like you can on a bike. Its a high risk activity which is why all. swimmers have to pass a medical and qualify.

The plan was to meet the Swim Tayka Relay team Friday night and swim at 10.30pm. It was then back to Dover Beach for a 3am swim at Dover Harbour on Saturday, followed by a day on Anastasia our boat with pilot Eddie Spelling and his crew for a practice run at 9. 30am.

So in one weekend I was to experience rough seas, night swims and swimming with no shoreline alongside the boat and practice the (strict) changeovers. I am not going to lie, I was nervous!

The weather last Friday was awful, so Friday evening was postponed and the boat trip moved to Sunday. Regarding the 3am swim I was constantly waiting on updates from Dover Channel Training group. I went to bed early Friday night expecting to swim at 3am. My alarm went off at 1. 30am and I got up and read on Facebook that the swim had been put off until 6am. Back to bed and back up at 5am to check the updates which said it was now a 10am start. So I went back to bed. At 7am I got up & decided on a pool swim, 55 minutes in a very warm pool. I got a message at 9am saying the swim was on and I flew down to Dover for 9.30am. The sea looked really rough but with my 3 buddies Hugh Lucy and Alexa we jumped in (with around 20 others) instructed to do smaller circuits of the harbour. It was exhilarating, the waves were coming at you from all directions, at times it felt like we were flying other times going no where, breathing was tough and we all took in water but we swam for an hour.

Later on (after a lay down) I was back to Dover to meet our manager Bryan and my Swim Tayka Relay team mates. A quick drink at the White Horse to see if we could find Bryan’s name on the wall as a solo channel swimmer, followed by a meal at Dino’s and then a swim! Yes 10.30pm at night there were 7 of us swimming at Dover beach. And it was actually really enjoyable, I could feel things around me (these turned out to be baby jellyfish) but I was fine. A quick change into my robe and I was on the way home. At 53 I am suffering at the moment with hot flushes particularly at night but having a night swim meant Tim could have one night without the fan on and windows open I even had an extra blanket on over the duvet!

The next day the team had paid to have a practice run on our boat Anastasia. A chance to get to know the boat, crew and of course our team along with my two beach buddies from the Dover Channel Training group. We met at the Marina and were chugging out of the Eastern arm at about 10am. Having toured the boat which took 5 seconds we were given our swim numbers for day our aim was to practice getting off the boat, doing the changeovers without touching anyone or anything (to avoid the relay not being recognised by the CSPF) practice swimming in the sea with just the horizon and to swim alongside the boat using it as guide. The weather better and for someone not normally sea sick I was warned (by Tim and numerous relay swimmers) that being on a small boat going as slow as the swimmer, people are very prone to sea sickness. So I took precautions and downed a few pills. I did have a couple of moments of nausea but I worked through it by constantly snacking and sipping water and yea my food stayed down. The experience was invaluable as it provided me with a good idea of what to take (or not), what to expect, how to plan and prepare what I take and how to organise it. But most of all it gave me the confidence and self belief that I needed. I now feel that I can do this and the buzz that came with that feeling, well I am still on a high.

Training off the boat Anastasia with Hugh

With the support of the Dover Channel Training Group especially my swim buddies Hugh Lucy and Alexa I am now swimming in conditions that a few weeks ago I would have run away from. And without the help and support of our team manager Bryan Avery who organised the night and boat swim and then gave us an abundance of help and support, sharing his experiences I personally feel much better about the swim itself. Its an experience that will live with me forever. And not forgetting my Relay team mates (who I met for the first time) Richard Stephen, Alan, what a cracking team we have!

I have been asked if I was annoyed by the constant changing of plans, having to get up & it being cancelled and the answer is no. Because this is good preparation for the actual swim. We are given a slot (17-21st July) and then we wait for a call from the pilot and when we go all depends on the weather and tide. We could get ready, be at the marina for it to be called off, some people have been known to stay in Dover for days waiting for the go. So I feel lucky that I had a chance to feel what it’s like to have your swim off and on and to experience some pretty bad weather and get in and swim despite being tired it was the best feeling.

And in all of that last week I faced up to my fears and came out of it with more confidence, more self belief and literally buzzing. I have 33 days and I feel good!

Here is my latest video. Thanks again for all your support it’s amazing!

News alert! Aylesham Community News June 2019

Aylesham Community News June 2019

Week 16 of 23 #ECRS2019 w/c 27th May 2019

Check out my weekly video update

Last  week Vanessa Felfz was talking on Radio 2  about the imposter syndrome and how it was a real thing. I first heard about  it doing my Post Grad Certificate. Its a psychological  syndrome where people doubt their accomplishments and fear being found  a fraud.

Is the fraudster?

I have felt the imposter syndrome in  work a little, often where I can’t quite believe I have got the job and feel like I am a fraud.  It has been (for me) a temporary feeling but for some it’s a real battle.    But this week I realised for the first time  it also applies to other  parts of my life particularly sport.   Being part of Dover Channel Training I am constantly meeting people who wow me. On Sunday  I wasn’t  feeling great (my own  fault as I had  a late boozy after with neighbours and even boozier night with friends) and I slept terrible. But I had a mind that I wanted to swim at least an hour followed by a couple on my bike but I was toying whether to go or not and I made the decision to go, so I took some headache pills had breakfast tea and toast and set off at 7.50am and I got myself down the  beach for 8. 15.

I wasn’t feeling it and although I set off strong I wasn’t enjoying it and finding it tough, the conditions weren’t great and it was choppy and I was tired. I struggled once again to get back. From Eastern and when I turned the corner, I just felt like I was going backwards and it was awful I felt like shit to be honest and I talked myself out of it really. So I did an hour and called it a day. When I got out I was to be honest a little disappointed but equally it was to be expected.

A lady got out at a  similar time, we were struggling to dress because  of our  cold hands and started chatting. She was 72  years old and did her first solo Channel Swim 50 years ago on 28/7/1969 and  to celebrate she is training for a 6 person relay with her daughters & friends around the 28th July 2019.  Earlier at the briefing it had been mentioned that one of swimmers is  training for a  2 way Channel,  and that he swam for 10 hours yesterday and was back today for another 10 hour swim.  In addition lots of people, including  my swim buddy Hugh completed their 6 hour qualifiers for solo swims yesterday. And in all of this I am yet to meet a local, everyone is travelling great distances to do this.  These are the heroes. And it makes me question myself.

On Saturday I was up at 6.50am my plan was to be early because its a 9am start for everyone and parking and room at the beach could be more difficult. I signed in and was given 90 mins in, 60 mins out and 90 mins in.   We had the briefing it was a beautiful day and fairly calm after my vaseline experience I was in the water staying with Hugh for a short while but we split on the way back. I got out had my hour out, changed and ate some food. I followed Emma in and spent most of my time following her we had a chat at the Eastern Wall and she told me her plans for this year 3 person 6 person and a 2 way relay. She was qualifying this week.

It has been a lovely day hot and calm so perfect for swimming.

I got out and was pleased myself for having done the 2 swims 90 mins, an hour out and another 97  mins  and there were  many moments when   amazing swimmers would glide past me on their epic swims  making it look easy  and it does make me feel like an imposter, what am I doing here?  Don’t get me wrong this is not anyone’s doing because the  support &   encouragement from Dover Channel Training is nothing short of amazing particularly given its all voluntary. It really is just me. 

Me & my swim buddy Hugh, he did his 6 hour qualifier today.

I got home at 11ish and spent some time warming through having a shower and a spot of lunch before going out on the bike for a 30 mile ride. Tired legs, actually tired everything. Although I do have a confession, prior to going and getting a shower I sat in our conservatory with a cup of tea, little did I know that I fell asleep holding the mug only to be rescued by Tim, and of course he took a photo.

I was just so tired, I didnt even feel Tim take the mug out of my hand.

Press Release Kent on Line

Week 15 of 23 #ECRS2019 w/c 20th May 2019

Check out my weekly video update

My week started with a spin class at 6.45am followed by body combat and boy was I tired. So much so I didn’t do the second spin class as normal and I came home. Tuesday I did my usual clinical pilates but gave morning classes a rest.

On Wednesday I was back to the DW swimming pool I had a mind that I wanted to do a long swim so I went for it, 90 mins and it felt pretty good. Thursday was the usual spin and core abs classes and Friday and Saturday became rest days as my social calendar was a little busy meaning some late boozy nights.

Sunday 26th may

Jubilee Way

I woke at 7am feeling pretty good, having slept okay. I was back down to Dover on Sunday at 8.25am with Dover Channel Training and did another 2 hour sea swim the water temperature was up to 13c but there was a change. The tide was coming in creating swell from west to east and the wind had increased. On the way down the harbour towards Eastern docks it was okay, a little like body surfing although sighting was difficult (which is why my route is all over the place).

Instead of touching the Eastern harbour wall we cut short, this was due to the fact that in this corner the waves were much larger and slam into the harbour wall and rebound back this is known as the ‘washing machine’ effect. It’s scary so cutting short before the harbour wall did help me a little.

When you turned to come back towards Western docks you are swimming into the waves and so I was all over the place. Having learned to. successfully breathe bilaterally (both sides) most of the time I now swim uni laterally (1 side) and luckily this is something I have been focusing on in my pool drills. However, I often timed my breathing wrong and got a mouthful which is horrible.

I did have moments of fear and the self doubts did start to creep in, whilst it was 1c warmer today at 13c it felt colder & I was struggling to feel my right fingers. But it’s also the ‘boredom’ , unlike being on the bike when you can lose miles looking around swimming is so different. The shoreline comprises of the Gateway flats, Premier Inn with its unmistakable round building, the east cliff & the harbour. Looking out to Sea you are lucky if you get ferry to look at but mostly its the harbour wall and 2 lighthouses. Every time I loop the harbour its the same view.

I finished the swim with really aching arms and shoulders. But there is no time to rest so no relaxing afternoon for me as its time to start our training for our next cycling holiday adventure. The flights are booked, our accommodation is booked and the cycle route is planned and we set off in 15 weeks. So with that in mind we got out the rucksacks for our first training ride with me carrying 5.3lbs and Tim 7lbs we did a short 26 mile ride straight into a head wind. I am not going to lie it was hard going in the wind & it was tough on my legs & shoulders following my swim. I was also suffering with my mouth – when I come out of a sea swim my mouth is sore and often I get lots of ulcers. So eating is tricky I hate Jelly beans but they are about all I can eat after a swim on the bike. So I fuelled myself on copious amount of water and jelly beans.

Week 14 of 23 #ECRS2019 w/c 13th May 2019

My grand plan 2 hours in the sea, and a night swim off Tankerton. Check out my weekly video update

I had a rest day on Monday, as I was physically and mentally exhausted and my mouth was sore, must be all that salt water! Sadly, a rest day means clean house, so yep I cracked on with the housework. The normality resumed for my week at the gym: Hiit and Core Abs on Tuesday, a swim followed by Bodycombat on Wednesday, Spin class and Core abs on Thursday, and Body Pump, pilates for fitness and spin class on Friday.

It was a gloomy old day and after body pump pilates and a spin class myself Tim and Alison went down to Beltinge for a sea swim. 36 mins in quite rough water and cold outside. 

We arrive on the beach and its so gloomy
It was also pretty rough and we were getting battered by the waves
ter the swim, always happy when we have done it

Later on after a dog walk.,dinner tea and cake I got ready for my night swim. Lots of warm clothes a glow stick swim light and a flask of hot chocolate I set off at 8.50pm for Tankerton beach. I met Alison and we walked down to the lifeguard hut and waited for Kent Sea Swimmers about 10 turned up. We were in the water by 9. 30pm but there was no sign of the full moon but after about 15 mins it was there in all its glory, weird as we were all looking for it in the wrong direction. We swam for 25 mins and I had the toughest getting dressed to date I wasn’t dry and I was rushing, and I couldnt put my trousers on, I was up and down like a yoyo and must have looked like a right idiot. We had hot chocolate and a chocolate cookie from some kind person on the beach and I drove home at 10.30pm. A quick shower and in bed for 11.07pm, this is a really late night for me. 

We have arrived at the lifeguard hut as it starts to get dark
Ready to go
The deed is done just need to get dressed now, the hard bit

Saturday 18th May 2019 

I arrived at Dover beach already for the morning swim. Briefing at 8.45 with Paul in an ABBA suit (Euro vision theme). Yellows were set a 50 min swim 70 mins out of the water and a 60 min swim.

I set off with Hugh and all was okay for 44 mins I said goodbye to Hugh & he continued for his two hour but something happened it felt like I was swimming in treacle, and getting nowhere and I started to really panic. My first aim was to head to the  beach about 50 metres from swimmers beach. I could see a man on the beach with a small child and I felt he may see me if I start to drown. It felt like I wasnt making progress and I was truly scared. I swam breaststroke and focused on my breathing and talking myself round. All I could think about was that I didn’t want this to be it so I have to sort it out myself. By now I was closer to the beach so I hung a right and started swimming back. I made it having done 53 mins I was shaken and scared. I was greeted given my crocs and I gave Kelvin my number 1. He signed me out. I made my way to the top which wasn’t far as its a high tide.  I was spooked by what had happened but having got dressed and warm I talked it through with people on the beach. I wasnt alone, the tide was making it difficult. It was the spirit on the beach and the. Acknowledgement of how tough this is that made me go back out there. Hugh was still swimming so. I set off with Lucy and Geoff all swimming our own pace this time an hour. Another milestone for me. I got to the Eastern wall feeling good and Geoff came by he checked in and I was okay. The swim back was tough but I got back close to the beach with mins to spare so I carried on. I then had to turn round to come back and this is where I faced my demon’s again as this was the spot I found difficult in the last session. It was tough I felt a little disoriented and my mind was playing games but I was trying to. Stay focused. I came in at 57 mins feeling much better about it although still in the back of my mind concerns 

 

The face of ‘I did get back in but I am still spooked’
Me and Alexa we met today, and we both know Catherine who is a soloist, and gives the most amazing support to us both.

The support on the beach and I was helped by newly made friends to feel better about everything. I ate and had hot tea after dressing in warm clothes. Lucy was talking about doing 2 hours tomorrow I wasn’t sure if I wanted to think about it as I had some doubts to conquer first, but she had put a thought in my mind.

I phoned Tim when I left the beach and told him how scared I had been and he helped me think them through. I put the phone down and I cried uncontrollably all the way home, there is something about the A2 that does that, along with a good tune on the radio and the fact that I was really scared.  

Later on a dog walk I thought it all through carefully and I gave myself some strategies for what to do if it happened again. Rather than getting to a point and just turning back to make the time I will continue up to the red boouy and along to the green boy and swim in from the left. I also talked to my self about my preparations and training and how I can do this. All in all the day had taken its toll, and long gone is the party animal I was in bed for 8pm mentally exhausted.  

Sunday 19th May 

I was nervous on my drive down to Dover I wanted to do the 2 hour qualification swim so I was trying to mentally prepare myself. When I arrived Lucy asked if I was up for it and I said yes without hesitation. I was honest with her about yesterday and my tears but I said I wanted it out of the way. She felt similar. Hugh arrived having done his first 2 hour swim yesterday I told him about my panic yesterday and he had a similar experience and said it was the tide. So I started to focus on the 2 hours ahead of me.

This is me nervous, listening intently to the briefing but preparing myself to swim for 2 hours.

We went to the 8.55am briefing and got our vaseline and I started swimming at 9.11am. Along to the yellow bouys o the right, uo to red bouy turn left and all the way down to Eastern docks it was a lovely swim I was in the zone and feeling good and we were fast 24 mins.  Hugh and I exchanged a couple of words and we set off heading back up to the Western docks towards the yellow buoys it was a much harder swim. We did a half round as I needed to check in with the beach crew and tell them I was feeling good and going for the 2 hour. Once this was done, we went back up to the yellow bouys another full round. It was much harder than the first one, the waves made it difficult to sight, because of the waves I was just breathing to my left with the occasional one to right to spot Hugh. And all the way round I was talking to myself, the am okay, not I am not ok conversation with oneself. You know, ‘am I cold?’, ‘ can I pinch my finger to thumb’ ( a sign of hyperthermia if you cant), ‘can I actually do this?’, ‘Am I being silly is it to much?’, ‘where is the land’. These are what I call the seeds of self doubt.

to be honest at times it felt like I was in a washing machine, it was quite bouncy and so cold. I could feel myself shiver and the self doubt would start again. I tried singing ‘Ain’t no mountain high enough’ but I just couldnt remember the words which then got me thinking ‘am I confused is this hyperthermia’. Tim would tell you that I can never remember the words and make them up half the time anyway! But all through these mad conversations with myself I continued swimming, all the time checking ‘can I see Hugh is he OK?’.  Getting close to the Eastern wall I remember looking at the green of the water and thinking how green it looked a lovely light opaque green. it took my mind off things for a few seconds – a good thing! I could see thing’s in the water so then I would start to think ‘what are they?’. Then I would think I dont want to know.  Then the shivers would start back up and the self doubt thoughts would start to kick in again. Mentally I was fighting myself all the way round but I wasn’t giving in today.  We got to the Eastern wall and it had been 1 hour 30 mins we acknowledged the hard work and set off again heading towards swimmers beach. We got back to the beach and it was 1 hour 45 so we kept on swimming to the yellow bouys. When we looked at our watches we   still had 9 mins of swimming so went up to the red bouy and turned left swimming towards the Eastern docks before making a left to head in, the swim in was tough but what got me through was the knowledge I had got this. Hugh and I swam for  2.03 hours in total. I was ecstatic. I got off the beach to a hug from Lucy she had qualified too. We shivered and shaked getting dressed, talking about our swims, we were given a piece of birthday cake and had it with some hot tea (from the flask). I said goodbye to Hugh and his family with a hug and a thank you. Lucy and I got our certificate from Paul and I went to the car. I was so happy, today I wanted to cry happy tears.  

Eurovision Theme 1/4 of ABBA, Paul writing out the certificate.
This is the face of ‘I just qualified’. am I Smug to right I am!!! (Birthday boy with cake in background)
Lucy and I with our certifcates – we were both so happy and relieved to have done this today.
The certificate – its something I am so proud of especially after Saturday

I learned a lot about myself this weekend, I am physically fit but I really need to work on my mental fitness. I need to believe in myself much more, and above all when the going gets tough I need to get tougher. Some may say that I am already tough but believe me when I say I need to dig much deeper. But the good news is I have qualified and I am now part of the Swim Tayka Relay team, 4 of the team of 6 (including me) qualified this weekend!

Week 13 of 23 #ECRS2019 w/c 6th May 2019

My grand plan this week is ‘Join Dover Channel Training‘.

Having got back from Budapest late Monday evening, it was straight back into work on the Tuesday. Exhausted and needing to be rested for a days teaching I didnt exercise Tuesday morning but it was stragith back to it on Wednesday with a 70 length swim at the pool and a body combat class. My week was then much like normal, a few classes, a few swims in between but my focus was on the weekend, sea swimming. I am working towards my 2 hour qualifying swim.

Having already joined the Dover Channel Training group on line, all I needed to do was get down to the beach. I had missed the first session due to being away, but I had managed to catch up on the blog so I kind of knew what to expect. I planned want to take, that is lots and lots of warm clothes, 2 swim suits, crocs (I didnt realise just how useful these were), food, hot and cold drinks. I actually looked like I was was going away for a few days rather than just down to the beach. I arrived, paid my parking and met a few people on the beach. I signed in and was given a number written on my hand, brought myself a swim cap. Solo swimmers wear red, relay swimmers yellow, Aspire (charity) swimmers green and for fun swimmers purple.

From the outside looking in you cant understand it
From the insude looking out you cant explain it
Cliff Golding

A briefing at 8.45am and the assessment for new members explained ‘swim to the yellow buoys on the right (towards Western Docks) then keeping them to the right swim to the red buoy at the top turn left and swim to the green buoy and back to the beach’. I set off with a few swimmers mostly red caps. I got back on the beach 11.49mins later, I was passed my crocs and I went straight to the top of the beach to change out of the wet swimsuit into a dry one and put on lots of clothes and drink a cup of hot Tea and wait further instructions. The next swim was at 10.15am, this time I was given a 45 minute swim. The same course but carrying on from the green bouy all the way to the harbour wall at Eastern docks and then back along the beach to the start. I stayed with a guy called Hugh he politely asked if he could follow me which he did, with a role reversal on way back me following him. We are just about similar pace for now. Although he is a solo swimmer.

The briefing – each week there is a theme, this week the theme was green (hence the green crayon fancy dress outfit).

Photo courtesy of Dover Channel Training

Setting off – do I look nervous?

Photo courtesy of Dover Channel Training

I can’t lie I thoroughly enjoyed the session I will be honest and say that I was out of my comfort zone particularly going so far out in the harbour as I have been used to swimming parallel to the beach, but having so many swimmers around massively helped. I felt safe and yet vulnerable at the same time.

The team lead by Emma are amazing though, and you are given very personalised training according to what you are training for.

It took longer to warm through having got dressed but I was pretty good considering this was my first ‘double dip’ and having completed 45 mins of swimming. This matched my longest duration to date. I ate and had hot tea and had a chat with Hugh and Paul agreed to see them the next day.

I was on a high for the remainder of the day okay I hadn’t beat my time of 45 mins in the sea but it was imminent.

How good does the yellow cap look.

I was back down to the beach for a second day on Sunday 12th May for the 8.45 briefing where I was instructed to do 2 swims a 45 min at 9am followed by a 50min at 11am. I got ready had some vaseline applied (by one of the amazing volunteers) and set off Hugh was waiting for me so we stayed together although he had to do an hour. It felt good and weirdly I didn’t notice being cold at all and yet the water was cold at 11’c. I got out changed into dry clothes and had a hot tea and half a bagel. I walked to Bradley wharf for the toilet and phoned Tim. It was the strangest of walks, because people on the prominade were mostly in light clothing, and yet here was I dressed for the antartic. Luckily I wasnt alone and I know the good people of Dover understand.

WEEK 11 & 12 OF 23 #ECRS2019 W/C 22 & 29 APRIL 2019

I have reached the half way mark so why dont you check our my weekly video update from week 11

I have missed a few updates as I have been travelling a bit so this is a catch up. Before our first trip I managed 45 minutes swimming in the sea and up to 1 hour 45 minutes in the pool.

We departed for Mallorca having only had 5 rides this year & with Tim coming down with a cold and bad chest. As a result we stuck together on the smaller route cycling 110 miles and I was happy to beat my last years Strava times and averages.

I also managed a 1 mile cold outdoor swim in the hotels 20m pool.

On my return I had a catch up call with team manager Bryan, to see how my training is going & the reality set in. Like I really need to get my arse in gear and make swimming in the sea for 2 hours my priority. Secondly, I need to practice changing my goggles over in the sea treading water and thirdly I need to do some night swims! But it was the words of encouragement and the acknowledgement of my efforts which helped. The second thing that happened was receiving a lovely card from my Aunty Joyce with a donation and her telling me that she had been in the sea at Dover that week. At 82 she is most definitely my role model. Her kind words of encouragement and belief in me were a massive help this week.

Having been home just 4 days mostly taken up with work, and with me coming down with the lurgy we were back on an airplane bound for Budapest. This time a mini city break but of course my swim stuff was packed, hopeful of a nice day to use one of the large outdoor pools Budapest has to offer. The weather wasnt fabulous but I did manage to hit my target of a 2 hour swim at the outdoor pool Platinus strand on St Margaret’s island.

Enjoy the photos from the last couple of weeks.

WEEK 10 OF 23 #ECRS2019 W/C 15TH APRIL 2019

Grand Plan this week: 1 hour 30  minutes in the pool and 55  minutes in the sea.

Check out my weekly video update

So this week was tough it started off being extremely cold I mean 10’C and it was gloomy. Also the high tide on this coast was very early morning and late evening making  it very difficult to work around especially in terms of getting support as both Tim and Alison had shifts.  Anyway,  my week started with a manic Monday swim, spin class, swim body combat and spin class.

I managed subsequent pool swims on Wednesday and Thursday when I managed another 90 minute session 4520 metres (that’s 226 lengths)  before a core abs class.

Then on Thursday I was able to get a sea swim in of 40 minutes  down at Beltinge. It may have looked sunny and at 16’C it was warmer but there was North easterly wind and it was cold but the sea was clear although choppy and cold at 9’c but I was pleased with the swimming and time, especially given also that I had swam for 90 minutes in the pool that morning.

Suzanne & Tim

I also went for a sea swim on  Friday with Alison it was her first for about  3 weeks and in between she had been to Egypt swimming in warm seas, soswam up and down and chatted for 30 mins it was cramp in  my left calf that forced me out and her too. What made it funny was that Alison mentioned that she had been telling her grandchildren about swimming in the sea and explaining about my training and her 10 year grand daughter said well if she tries to get out make her get back in don’t let her out.  It did make me laugh. We had a nice time and when we got whilst it was cold the hot tea helped and I actually only put on a long sleeved fleece and shorts which seemed OK. So maybe I am becoming acclimatised.

Alison and Suzanne

Saturday morning is my pool time and this weekend it was time to increase my time, and given the fact I had already gone over and above my grand plan it was time to increase my swim to 1 hour 45 minutes.  I try to prepare myself for it. I wake up at 6. 30am have a frothy latte on bed having cuddles with my dogs and sharing the froth with Wolfie who loves it! I get up around 7am feed the dogs and have toast and tea. I leave the house at 7.45 in order to be at the pool early to get the lane or the rope however, because it’s Easter there are no swim lessons so the lane is the best option but most weeks I am pipped at the mark despite being changed first I take the obligatory shower and they dont and hence get the lane. I think I  may have guilted them into giving me the lane this week and be honest I was very grateful for the lane what made it better was that I was able to give the lane to Ben who came in at 9.45am much later than normal, as he is an actual swimmer and not a walker.  Anyway I started off setting myself a milestone of 50 lengths then a other 50 and then another 50 it was only at 150 that I allowed myself to look at the time and it was 1 hour + and I had done 164 lengths.  So I then set myself a target of 36 to get to 200 and then another 50.  I felt strong and i felt like I was going well. I actually did 1.45 264 lengths 5280 metres so that was good! 200/100m.

After the pool swim and a dog walk Tim and I went back down to Beltinge for another sea swim it was a glorious sunshine day about 19’C there was a slight wind down at the beach but the sea was calm although lots of seaweed and a bit brown with lots of scum at the edge. It really doesnt look appealing so I literally get myself in as quickly as I can. The dogs were with us so as I started to swim so they ran up the edge Wolfie came in a few times and after 15 mins so did Tim. Wolfie actually swam after me and Tim caught it on the go pro. Once we were in it was fine and we started a trend with other people getting in although it was mostly kids lasting about 5 minutes. I did 45 mins in the water mostly swimming freestyle and Tim did 32mins his longest by 10+ we got out and despite it being sunny and warm we were cold to the core so it was hot coffee and wrap up warm which feels odd as we were in long fleeces hats etc when everyone else had short sleeves. I was really pleased with today’s effort in the pool and sea and that’s 3 days in the sea!   I was panicking a little as next week we are off to Mallorca for 5 days, back home for 3 days and off to Budapest for another 5 so getting another sea swim in will be almost impossible.

A collage of the week that was

Week 9 – 8th April 2019

Week 9 of 23 #English Channel Relay Swim 2019

Check out my weekly video blog

So this week I was signed fit to swim by a GP, having completed a very thorough CSPF medical assessment in Cambridge.

This is just one of a number of things you have to do to swim the channel, on top of the training.

I like to think I am pretty fit, I am in the gym every weekday morning from 6am doing a range of classes. I can jump on a bike & do a long ride & If need be take a moment, and the same with the running but swimming long distance is a lot harder particularly in the sea. But the real challenge is being at the mercy of the sea & the cold. I have never experienced being cold right through to the very core of my body, it takes a lot out of me and an incredibly long time to warm up properly afterwards.

Training wise it’s been a tough week, I tried to have a sea swim on Sunday. Sea temperature was 9’C with a swell & a whopping 10 out & it was windy. I felt incredibly light headed after just 11 mins, and whilst I could do the hyperthermia test ok (finger to thumb) something didn’t feel right so I abandoned. The weather and tide times haven’t made another one possible this week. On top of that the pool was closed for 2 mornings – but all is good as I smashed 1 hour and 15 minutes (3084 metres) swimming non stop in the pool on Saturday! 
“If you are going through hell, keep going” Winston Churchill.

So that’s my week!

Week 8-  w/c Monday 1st April 2019

Week 8 of 23 #English Channel Relay Swim 2019 check out my weekly video blog


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. Dr Seus

So to coin Dr Seus words, I have brains and I have feet in my shoes and it’s all down to me as to how I get myself to the end point of this English channel relay swim. Of course I have a training plan!

However, I started to cough & splutter earlier in the week so I took time out of my training plan and all is good, because in my plan is a contingency – the what if. I am still heading for the same direction but using a slightly different route. Good planning means you don’t get caught out by something you didn’t consider or think about. To much is being vested in this to let that happen.

My training continues to go well despite the ‘cough’. In the pool I swam continuously for 1 hour (1:00:9 to be exact) my longest swim yet of 3040 metres. I swam 3000m 3 years ago but I knocked 18 minutes off that time. In fact I have now broken all my previous swim records. The drills focusing on my technique are paying off & my little swim bag is growing bulky with all the little swim aids I am gaining – floats, paddles etc all designed to help me improve.

In the sea I have increased my time to 34 minutes, and swimming face in the water for most of it. For some inspiration (and because of the tides) we actually ventured down to Dover beach for our swim, it was really cold but the water was beautifully clear, it makes such a difference in terms of motivation.

Week 7 –  w/c Monday 25th March 2019

Week 7 of 23 #English Channel Relay Swim 2019

‘How you do anything is how you do everything’
T. Harv Eker

How you handle any challenge or experience in life is how you handle all of them. What I do is up to me, so that’s why I embrace everything I take on with a mindset of I can do this. And that’s why I plan and prepare myself and (above all) train hard but sensibly. Because I can and will do this!

I learned a lot last week about how I swim and what I need to do to improve my technique in the sea so this week has seen me starting to put it into practice. And it’s been hard I am really feeling the difference!

This week in the swimming pool I have focused on drills and increasing distance & time up to 2800 m/ 52 minutes. 
And in the sea combining an increase in my time in the water & starting to swim properly, this is the hard bit because the water is so cold on my face. But I am
now up to 28 minutes in the sea.

Tuesday 26th March l ECRS2019 Sea Swim #7

I had a rest day I.e. no gym in the morning instead we walked the dogs together at 4pm Tim picked me up from the library and we drove to the sea at Beltinge it was grey cold and miserable the sea whilst looking calm didn’t look at inviting at all. I undressed not really feeling it and it was a case of just getting in.  It felt really cold going in but it soon got easier as I started to move.  I found it hard to swim I tried really hard to swim and did about 400 metres I think I. All which wasn’t bad.  I did 28 minutes and Tim did 16 minutes – it was a struggle getting dry and dressed today I don’t know why!  Once we got home and had dinner, I was back out for an hour clinical Pilates.

Friday 29th March ECRS2019 Sea Swim #8

In the pool for 6am today I wanted to do a straight swim freestyle but I decided to use resistance mitts and my drag shorts. I am not going to lie it was tough going but I really tried to focus on entry rotation and the catch. I managed 70 lengths and 2.01/100m.  After the swim I did a  body pump class and fitness Pilates class.

We decided against a bike ride due to the weather being nicer tomorrow for cycling, and so we took ourself off to Dover beach for a swim.  The sun was shining and it was 14’C so much warmer,  the sea was as cold as ever though but it was beautifully clear – I was in first and was getting quite a lot of interest from passers by.  Poor Tim had someone flick a cigarette end and it landed in his bag luckily he saw it!! I managed to swim for most of my time in the water with face in 707 yards in total, and 34 minutes  Tim got up to 21 minutes and swam breastroke and he tried his face in the water for the first time.  Its all about building up slowly. 

Week 6 – w/c Monday 18th March 2019

Week 6 of 23 #ECRS2019 check out my weekly video blog
“if someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you are not sure you can do it, say yes and then learn how to do it later.” 
Richard Branson

So this weeks focus turned to ‘learning’.

But first the training; in the pool I have increased my distance to 2600m, my time in the sea is up to 20 minutes and I also managed a small swim with my face in the water. It doesn’t seem much but it was 10’C & bitterly cold. With that I need to say a huge thank you to Alison Grosvenor who this week increased her stay in the water to 12 minutes and to Tim Gough who came in for the 1st time and managed a minute, a great start. (Unless you have tried it you won’t really know how much it hurts).

And so regards the learning, well I was offered a swim smooth 1:1 coaching session with video analysis. I found out my style is suited to open water & following the analysis I now have a couple of things to focus on to improve my technique. Its time to learn.

As this weeks comes to an end I would like to thank Amanda and Chantal for their sponsorship, I really appreciate your help.

If you can find a little something to help me raise money here is my link. I am collecting for Swim Tayka using TotalGiving™. This is a revolutionary new way to give to charitable causes, where the funds raised are transferred directly to the charity. Meaning no costs and no commission everything go

Monday 18th March ECRS2019 Sea Swim #4

The usual wake up call of 5.20am exhausted I get out and do my usual routine feed dogs, coffee and empty the dishwasher.  We were in the pool for 6am and had the lane – I swam 70 lengths at a slow 2.05/100m I then went on to do a tough spin class.  After it was back to the pool for another 70 lengths much faster at 1.57/100 m and it felt better too.   I then had breakfast, did a body Combat class and then a spin class.  Alison Tim and I all having done the spin changed into swim gear and went down to the sea at Beltinge.  It was cold but not as windy but the sea looked horrible – brown and not at all inviting.  We stripped off our clothes and were in, Tim followed a few mins later with the go pro – he lasted all of about 30 seconds with his screams.  He was right it is painful.  Alison managed 12 minutes and I did 20 and I swam with goggles for a few strokes.  My face was so cold.  I actually thought today was colder than last time but apparently it was 10’c so 2.3’c warmer.  But I think the outside was colder.  When I got out my whole body was red raw.  We had tea and got changed and then got into the car for the 25 min drive home.  We had the heating on full blast the whole way and I really only just stopped shivering when we pulled on the drive.  It’s such a weird sensation being so cold and trying to warm up naturally. 

Friday 22nd  March ECRS2019 Sea Swim #5

After body pump and a Pilates session at the gym we later went to the beach at Beltinge for a sea swim.  This was to be my 5th and Tim 2nd.  Is was cold and grey / cloudy but the tide was in.  It was cold but I managed 23 minutes and 1 ½ and 2 mins with a break in between.  I suffered with my hands but today I managed to swim freestyle between the groin and breaststroke back.  It’s getting better

Sunday 24th march ECRS2019 Sea Swim #6

Today we went out for a 42 mile bike ride, it was meant to be 56 but we were fast running out of time to be honest and so cut it short so we could fit in a swim.  The sun was shining so we heading over to Beltinge,  it was 10’C outside temperature and the water around 9’c I managed 25;38 in the water and swam 93 yards.  It was so cold but actually having the sun on your face made all the difference,  it didn’t stop the shivering and it was just as cold but it felt better being sunny!  But it would be easy to fool yourself and stay to long.  Tim did really well too and came in for 10 ½  minutes which was brilliant.

Week 5 week commencing 11th March 2019

Week 5 of 23 ECRSF 2019 Check out my weekly video blog

Saturday 16th March

Didnt manage to fit in a sea session, but I did get up to 130 lengths in the pool. No gimmicks just me and my laps.  It’s weird as swimming is kind of boring and you seem to spend your time counting laps which is fine if you are doing 20 but when you want to get into the 100’s in mind numbing.  So I set myself little games count 10, then a 20 and so on. Don’t get me wrong it’s till boring but every little helps.  So I plodded on and I was feeling good, I got a sense that people were arriving and people were leaving but I just kept going and I managed 130.  It’s not my longest swim as I have done 150 in 2016 but it’s a good place to be especially as my average was 1.57/100m. After my swim I changed quickly and went and did a body Combat class followed by a HiiT class for an hour it’s fair to say I was pretty wasted after all that!  Luckily so as I had an afternoon of rugby 6 Nations with Wakes winning the grand slam abs England only just managing to pull of a draw against Scotland!  A few beers were had too.

130 lengths, 2600 metres, 50.46 minutes, 1.57/100metres

Week 4 week commencing Monday  4th March 2019

Friday 8th March 2019 ECRS2019   sea swim #3

 When I arrived at the beach the sun was shinning and it felt warmer than it had previously – it was around 10’C so it wasn’t but I was in a sun trap.  We went down the beach and the tide was in and it looked okay not to rough. We went in quickly, it felt so cold and really took my breath away immediately it felt much colder than the previous two sessions.   We got in quickly my skin felt like it was burning and so I started swimming breaststroke between the groins I kept my hands in whilst Alison kept hers out.  I also put face in water and swam front crawl between two groins. It was so cold and my face felt like it had been burnt and my lips felt swollen. Alison stayed for 10’ mins and I did 14 mins.   I put my robe on and had tea.  It took quite a while to warm up afterwards and even in the car with the heating full on my teeth were chattering.  

Week 3 – 25th February 2019

ECRS2019 Sea Swim #1

As for the start of sea training, a chance chat in the gym after a spin class and before our core abs session and Alison said she would go with me – Friday – tomorrow did that sound like a plan.  Hell yes I said not really giving myself time to think about it.  Tara and Chantal both said they would come along for moral support, and the promise of hot tea.  So we made plans to go the next day after spin class. 

If I am honest, I didn’t sleep to well, I dreamt about sea swimming all night and I was very anxious about it.

My day started with a pool swim of 63 lengths and body pump followed by shopping and then spin.  I have never wanted spin to go on so long.  Chantal told the class what we were doing and we got a mixed response of eyebrows and are you mad!  We changed into our swimsuits made a few jokes and set off in our cars.  We headed down to the beach – tide was in, it was pebbly and it was bleak really bleak only and cold!  9’c outside.  We stripped off and just walked straight in breathing deeply and talking – 5 minutes submerged in the sea. We got out chatted dressed in ridiculous large but warm clothes.  So proud of what we had done.  We didn’t mention a next time apart from the same time next week.  It was only the following day between body Combat and HiiT that we decided to go Sunday.

Sunday 3rd March 2019 ECRS2019 Sea Swim#2

Our meet time was 10 I got to the car park at 9.55am and Alison soon after put on the sea slippers and we made our way down to the beach  the tide  was right in but it was so cold and so very bleak and the beach was pretty empty except for a few dogs walkers warmly wrapped up – it was raining!  We noticed a dog was in and that gave us hope so we once again stripped quickly and went in – almost straight away putting the shoulders in. My breathing was all over the place but it soon came down and started to ease we walked from post to post and pretty soon I was swimming breast stroke I also put face I water and swam a few strokes. It was hard going especially swimming towards Herne Bay with reculver behind me. But we did it, I did 7 ½ minutes and Alison 6 we warmed up with robes/ towels and hot tea and took a few photos proud of ourselves. 

The blog

This blog was started on Thursday 29th February 2019 just a week or so after I signed up to swim the English Channel as part of a 6 person relay. Prior to the blog starting I had already done a few pool swims fitting them in around my gym classes and schedule.  I can swim a mile in about 33 mins and this week I had done two sessions of 60 lengths ¾ mile.  It was going okay but I was acutely aware that distance isn’t the only factor here and that at some point I needed to be able to swim for two hours in the sea before it gets above 14’C.  It was like a nagging feeling hanging over me where I know I need to do it but if I am really honest I was scared of going alone even with someone on the beach (which is a must).  In my head I told myself end of March but equally I knew that it was leaving it a bit late. 

How it all started.

I was skiing in Les Arc 2000 in February 2019. I was assigned to a group red and there were (on a any day) around 6 – 9 people. On day 1 in the afternoon we were joined by 3 men, of which one was Bryan. I was told by other members that Bryan was an ice swimmer, this intrigued me, so next time I sat on the chair lift with him the questions started. I soon learned that he had done a number of challenges (some of which I had never heard of). In another conversation he told me that he proposed to his partner in a really unique way, and he sent me a copy to the blog, it transpires that this was on the back of his Catalina Swim (The Island of Cataline to LA), as interesting (and romantic) as the proposal was I was interested in the swim. I learned that this was his third challenge, that being Swimming the English Channel (solo), 20 Bridges (around Manhatten) and this one. I was genuinely interested and the questions kept coming (I must have been quite annoying). I happened to mention that I went to school in Dover, that I had canoed in the harbour as a teenaged and was training at one point to canoe the channel, but that it was a genuine pipe dream. It was at that point when he said I have one place left on a team of 6 swimming in July do you want it. In shock I asked to think it over, that took all of a 5 minute conversation with Tim with us both saying this was a once in a life time chance. That night I said yes I was up for it, then the questions really did start. That was then this is now.

COPYRIGHT©

April 16, 2019Edit

© [Suzanne & Tim Gough] and [Mr & Mrs Adventures], [2019]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. If you want to use, copy or link ‘any’ of the information contact us and if we will consider your request. In which case if we grant you permission we will provide you with the appropriate information. This will include full and clear credit being given to [Suzanne and Tim Gough] and [Mr & Mrs Adventures] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content in terms of layout and design and with written permissions to be used with the material.

If we feel that information has been used inappropriately, and without our authorisation we will file a DMCA takedown notice at the wordpress DMCA page.

This photo is 1st March 2019, my first sea swim with Alison, I managed 5 mins

Advertisements

One thought on “English Channel Relay Swim 2019

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s