Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Brilliant - It felt very surreal to start with, loading up on the boat at Folkstone, we rowed out to Fred's boat with all the stuff, climbed on board in the dark . We then chugged off to Samphire bay. 10 Minutes before we got there I put on my trunks and Lesley piled on the grease. before I knew it it was time to jump in. There was a couple of other boats at the start point, but I didn't really take in who they were. I jumped in and the water felt warm, the grease was awesome and made me feel like I was wearing a bullet proof vest. I swam up the beach in the clear waters and surged out of the water on a wave. There were a couple of people on the beach to wish people well, who wished me good luck!
I turned, waved to the boat, waded in and dived off. Having tapered and rested the last 2 weeks, I suddenly felt super strong and went into a steady rhythm on a beautiful calm sea. I knew right away the swim was in the bag! I saw a couple of jellies just off shore, but they were quite deep (phew) The first hour to the first feed flew by, I was just smiling feeling so privileged to be in the channel. The first feed (maxim) went down, and the next (maxim and peach half) and the next (maxim and peach) - the first 3 hours seemed to fly by, then I went to 1/2 hour feeds of maxim on the hour and electrolyte on the 1/2 hour. We had discussed the electrolyte and were not sure about it, it was quite rich on the stomach. The 3rd one bounced back out, so we changed to coffee with fruit sugar for each 1/2 hour. This worked great throughout the swim, stimulating a 'pee' before the maxim feed.
Every now and again I got a glimpse of the white cliffs growing steadily smaller in the distance.
In the middle phase, the sea got a bit more bouncy, and I think my stroke rate had dropped as I struggled to my rhythm in the waves, around this point the crew asked if Steve (pacemaker) should jump in, I said 'whenever he is ready, uplifted by having some company. When he did jump in it was great, but difficult as the sea was throwing us around a bit making it hard to stay side by side and by the boat! However, the fact he was in the water made me pick up my stroke and I found a good rhythm again. (I think he came in on the 5th to 6th hour)
After that we went through the shipping lanes, I was totally unaware at the time, but a huge tanker had to change course to miss us - thanks to the French coastguards for that. The water was clear but had quite alot of 'stuff' floating in it. I was sure not to swallow any....The middle phase was just a case of swimming feed to feed and enjoying being in the channel, the waves weren't huge but did hamper progress, even though they. The crew suggested I change sides of the boat at one point, and it went around behind me, the water was much calmer then and progress felt better. The time really seemed to whiz by and I restrained from looking at France until someone said 'look - that's where we are aiming for! And it seemed really close. I had to keep reminding myself about that I would still have many hours left. In my head I had budgeted 4 x 3 hrs + 1 x 3 hrs if needed, so a total of around 12-15 hours. As we approached my left arm twinged and sort of lost power, but was comfortable enough and clearly I was thinking I have come this far - nothing can stop us now! A quick reflection on all the fundraising and peoples outstanding generosity was helpful at this stage! Land was getting closer and closer, I heard someone shout '3 miles to nearest land' this was about 1o hrs, and I foolishly thought cool - we could be done in 11 1/2 hrs!! I was still enjoying the swim, but the channel challenge was on now. I also heard someone say 'if we make it' so assumed we miss the cape or something so sped up for the next hour. At the next hr stop I was informed that we cold not miss the cape and we were heading in. Very relieved I just settled down to a steady 'chug' again. I could see that that we were being swept all over by the tide and currents and just trusted in following the boat. Slowly but surely I could make out more and more detail, houses, windows on the houses, bushes etc. '2 miles to land in any direction' came a shout.....chug chug....1 1/2 miles...chug chug....1 mile......3/4 mile was the last shout and Lesley said 'Pete this is your last feed - next stop on the beach' I had a look up and it was sooooo close now. Then, the part I had been hoping for - Fred got into the rowing boat with Lesley and Rich for the final approach!
I could then feel every wave pushing me ashore, I could see the colour change in the sea as it became more orange with the sand. I could feel waves of warm water coming over me. I could make out ripples in the sand on the bottom - I could see the waves breaking on the beach, then I touched the soft sand with my hand and was totally overcome with a wave of emotion that rushed through my whole body, (and yes I started blubbing in my goggles!)...I tried to stand but my legs were having none of it, swam a few more strokes and tried again..yup...here we go, stood up and started jogging up the beach. The beach was like Southport in that the water was shallow for ages, so I ran right past some gobsmacked looking French people to be sure I was out of the water before turning and raising my arms in the air!! I could see Steve (who had stealthily followed me in) and Rich and Lesley in the row boat. The nice French chap spoke to me and said ' 'ave you just swam ze channel' to which I said 'YES!!!'
I chatted with Steve and Richard on the beach for a moment and just as we thought about setting back off to the row boat - when we saw my Mum and Dad waving and running along the beach, which was truly wonderful. We could not spend long there as I was feeling cold (for the first time all day!!) so climbed back on the boat where Lesley was (needed a leg up from Rich - thanks)
Back in the boat I finally managed to hug Lesley and sit down and celebrate. We moored up in Folkstone some 5 hours later after midnight, I was buzzing all the way back....still am.
Overall, the swim was thoroughly enjoyable all the way! Maybe just a little frustrating at the end trying to get in against the tide - but I guess that's what its all about, if it was that easy it wouldn't be the challenge that it is.........!
So here we are, the other side of the swim, still feeling elated and buzzing and pleased to have successfully raised so much money for Rock FM and Sam Young - many many thanks to all that have contributed, every penny has spurred me on through the training.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Pete has continued to swim the channel, since the last post, the waves have gotten bigger, and Pete was getting a bit battered (even though he was finding them fun). last distance measured was 18.2 miles. Pete swapped sdes with the boat to stop the winds and block the waves.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Hopefully today was the final lap of honour in the harbour. Spoke to Fred at Folkstone, and he was confident that we will be underway on Sunday morning. Perfect. Meeting at the boat at 4am, means that I'll be in the water around 6am. The forecast gives light winds, and reasonable temperatures
Time now to go and rest...and eat....sleep....and eat a bit more!!
Left - mutually exclusive to channel swimming - the perfect activity for waiting for the winds to die down! Right downtown Deal...lovely town
We all spent a few hours at Dover harbour today. While I did my lap, Lesley came out in the canoe with Chloe and later on with Rob and Brandon. As I swam, I could see Brandon and Chloe fighting over something at the back nearly tipping Rob and Lesley in :) Quite a hairy moment on board apparently. Ah the blissfulness of swimming.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Scorching on the beach at Dover inner harbour...
Time for a bit of training at Deal tonight....
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I swam off Deal last night for 30 mins or so, and felt better for it. The current ran strongly on an ebb tide along the coast - I swam to the pier and back, and it took 5 minutes to get to the pier and about 25 mins to get back 'upstream' to Lesley and the kids!!!
It was nice to get 'wet' again and the water was lovely.
Today has been a scorcher sunshine wise as we ambled around Folkstone, and had a long chat with 'Fred' the pilot. I think he's great and he has a straight no-nonsense attitude to the crossings. I have 100% faith in him now, which is important as you need to do what the pilot tells you, and I will - no question!!
More to follow after talking to Fred at 8 after the weather !!
Friday, July 18, 2008
Also exciting news, I have been invited up to Rock FM this morning, so should be able to give a good plug.
I also did a 'farewell' swim in the reservoir yesterday morning, and was treated to pouring rain for the experience and fond memories :)
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Arriving on Sunday 6th July at Dianes house (our team swimmer and organiser) full of anticipation, we first had the challenge of fitting all the required gear into the car. Far to much the the modest boot of the Jag X-type, we had to leave Justin walking whilst we nipped round to Chez's house with an extra load for the Nissan truck!! He was dead pleased to see us at 6:30 am (really).
We got down to Dover about 1 ish to greet a few of the beach gang after a tough windy swim...more of that later...
We unloaded the cars, and got settled at Varne ridge, and went off to meet Fred, our pilot. He was a little scepitical about the weather for the next couple of days and proffered Thursday night as his best guess with a we'll see and jokes about lucky seaweed.... A little down hearted, we headed back to the Ridge and ate our 1st of many fantastic banquets courtesy of Diane. (More of the multi talented Diane - check out the picture below !!
Monday was spent chewing the cud, and a quick dip in the water in a rather wavy Folkstone for Justin, Chez and Diane:
I popped in for the last 20 minutes just to how the water was, and indeed it lived up to the reputation of being warmer on a second 'stint'. Encouraging for the relay team!
Wednesday....a day to forget, more of that later involving search parties and coastguards.
Thursday, we lost Matt as he had to return for work commitments (6 men, and a lass went to swim, went to swim the channel, 6 men, and a lass, 5 men and a lass......., Diane sorted us with a monster breakfast and then we caught her passing the time..........(1 Girl went to mow, went to mow a meadow....!!!)
Hope those lines are straight Diane!!
This brings us up to current...and we are waiting for news on the weather, most reports are showing that the weekend is prime, we are just unsure if we can all stay that long :(
Friday, July 4, 2008
Tonight we just have a photo shoot swim that Diane has organised for the relay team, will post these when I get a copy.
All looking forward to the relay swim next week. We're off down to Dover Sunday morning, just enough time left to squeeze in a quick Windermere tomorrow and a quick harbour swim on Sunday.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Driving down on Friday, after a bit of am I really up for this type bottling, was a 'mare, got away from the office about 12:45, and arrived at the hotel in Folkstone (Brittania) 8:30pm. Luckily Diane (relay team organiser) was staying and saved me a dinner- Thanks Diane!
Saturday morning came around real fast, once I'd decided to use my earplugs at night to drowm out the nightclub noise!!
On the beach, I met most of the Malta crew, and Kevin was also facing the same challenge. We both commited to ' a 7', greased up and in we went. I stayed out for 2 1/2 hours before a first feed as I felt really strong, and was late for all the remaining feeds which seemed to help the time rattle by. There were resonable waves on the north side which made life more interesting, although notably slowed down progress. The sun pretty much beamed all day. In the last hour I treated myself to swimming down by the south wall, before swimming in to finish. I had delivered some choclate rolls to the helpers, and seemed to get one at every food stop. Laarvely.
Saturday evening was a bit of a low as I felt shattered. But a good dinner and pep talk from Lesley and Diane helped. Got up Sunday morning raring to go again.
Usual routine, breakfast, pack, car, Dover, chat, smile, grease, splash - we're off. It was mostly overcast, which I was glad for as I wanted to test my cold water resistance more. 2 weeks before when I did my first 7, I had shivered for 6 of the 7 hours. Yesterday was comfortable, but the sun was strong. Today was also still comfortable. the wind was stronger, and the waves great fun onteh north wall, but quite wearing on the shoulders! I kept honest this time and avoided a 'skive' in the calmer waters as I am aware I need wave practice. All of a sudden 5 hours were done and I tried a sprint, that lasted 15 minutes before my pecs seized up, and it was good to learn that a stretch of arms behind my back cleared the muscles and I could proceed - at a steady pace.
Homeward bound, 6 hours swimming followed by 6 hours driving and I was home!
That was the last monster session before the big swim. Looking forward to the relay next week, hoefully with another Windermere on Friday if Lesley's arms are up to it :)
Apologies, I forgot to take a photo of Lesley in the canoe. This was her view for 4 hours!
It was a superb evening, and the water uncannily pleasant!
About an hour into the swim, I realised I had left parking ticket in my jeans pocket! Stressing about this all the time, when we got back---no ticket! Can't help feeling annoyed that we wasted 6 quid on the ticket :)