Sunday, 30 December 2007

"I don't belieeeve it"

I was telling you it was a little busy wasn't I !? Well, Sunday arrived and I wanted to try to get back to Seaton for a quick dip as planned without the hassles of the masses on Boxing Day, as usual it was a mad rush to get to the coast and be back for other events. We quickly packed the dry bag, grabbed the flask and sped off (via MacDonald's to fill the flask en route). Charlie was not impressed and demanded to stay in the car!

On arrival we walked to the waters edge, the sea being almost at low tide, it looked pretty rough and I was not looking forward to getting bashed about, after a little soul searching and a kick in the butt from Kelly I began to strip..............................then a Victor Meldrew moment..."I don't believe it" I had only left home without one vital piece of equipment - my trunks!! Ha ha.. a valid reason not to bother or so I thought. Just when I thought God was on my side I quickly had ear bashing from Kelly "if you think I have come here for you to shirk this swim you are mistaken, now get in there with your pants on, you have no choice in the matter, now get in"
That was me told good and proper..she was correct, I had no choice... off with the rest of the clothes and into the water as quick as I could.. together with my undies..what a sight.

The water was very rough, but I am pleased that I had won the mental fight and gotten into the 7 degree water, I managed to get my breathing sorted and was able to have a brief (pardon the pun) swim. The conditions were shocking, then however, another stroke of luck! I was swimming parallel to the shore when I was tossed around by a breaking wave, my goggles went missing, so I thought I had better walk to shore and get out. I was beyond shoulder depth hence my hands were under water..then, miraculously, the goggles wrapped them selves around my what were the chances of that?!. I stayed in a few more minutes with my pants dropping to my knees with every passing wave..then exited with my skin the colour of a lobster.

It was tough to even get in, I had lots of mantras in my head and the suggestion of 'a minute equals an hour' ringing in my ears. Kelly reminded me the 'Grand Channel Swim Plan' was to continue getting into the cold water even if it was just for a couple of minutes, so that it didn't feel so bad come the spring.

I am home now and well warmed through. I feel great to have made it into the water and must do more of the same throughout the winter. That will be the last outdoor swim for 2007. All that remains it to wish you all a happy healthy and successful 2008. Happy training.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Not enough hours in the day...

Busy ..that's an understatement, its been a complete nightmare trying to train over the Christmas period, I had a easy recovery week and hoped to get back to normal this week only to find the opening hours at the gym/pool drastically reduced, so what with that, school half term and of course work I have hardly even got wet !
Boxing Day saw Kelly, Charlie and I visit Seaton for the traditional dip, hundreds of people were in attendance in all manner of fancy dress from Santa's, Smurfs to potential disappearing canoeists making impersonations of John Darwin. The RNLI were manning the event and were rather strict to say the least, they were not happy to allow people to swim or even paddle outside of their cordon, hence I was unable to get a good swim and was really only in the water for about ten minutes at 6.6 degrees. I understand the event has to be regulated with so many taking part.. some of whom where no doubt under the influence !! I am hoping to go back Sunday when there will be no crowds, providing I can handle the the temperature it should be more beneficial. Other than that and the odd pool swim this week has been a non starter training wise.

On a positive note, Santa was very kind to us all, as part of my Channel Training Plan, I was hoping to get to the Irish Champion of Champions (organised by Ned Denison) event in Cork next May, though I hadn't made any arrangements so when Santa delivered our flights and 5 star accommodation I was delighted.

Here is an extract from Ned's confirmation email regarding the weekend .......

"We meet May 24th to swim around Sandycove Island: 5 laps....get out and rest...then 3 laps get out and rest then sprint one last lap...and YOU WILL BE HELPED OUT! The tides are perfect on the day....we start exactly on high tide...which make that first lap a bit shorter. Then we swim it down to low tide and our last lap will be with and against the maximum flow. GREAT NEWS!

Here is the running order. Because the shape of the island changes as the tide comes in an goes out....I have given you a range of distances. After a year of cruising around the island with the GPS thing in my cap....I can assure you that a slightly wider loop adds 10% to the problem!

Start Time .. Max Time.......Laps......Min Miles .....Likely Miles
0900am........4 hours.......... 5............ 4.5 ...............5
2:00pm .......2.5 hours........ 3............ 3.1 ...............3.46
5:00pm .......40 mins ..........1 ............1.1...............1.2

The rules are short and brutal. If you fail to make the distance or fail to make any of the maximum are recorded as DNF.
I will pretty much guarantee water temperatures between 9 and 14C. Those veterans of Sandycove are now muttering: "yeah on each lap" we do get substantial variations!"

So you can see it should be a fantastic weekend, as result of Santa's generosity we will most certainly be there.

Friday, 21 December 2007


After a great deal of debate and soul searching it has finally been decided upon which charity to dedicate my Channel Swim effort towards. The newly formed charity J-A-C-K will hopefully benefit from any funds I can raise, the facility to donate online will appear in the first few weeks of the new year. I hope people will agree this is a very worthy cause.
This is a decision Kelly and I have made entirely on our own, we had a couple of responses to our plea for a suitable cause but none exactly fitted what we were looking for. Once we became aware of this research/trial/support programme being established by Yvonne and Richard Brown (Jack Browns parents) we looked a little deeper.. it was then that I felt the almost overwhelming need to assist.
At this stage only the mission statement is displayed on the J-A-C-K web page, though more information will follow very soon, thank you to Yvonne Brown for taking time to speak to me at this very difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with Jack and the many other children suffering at what should be a joyous time of year.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Life Begins.....

I have heard it said many times that 'Life Begins at 40' ...Well I am not there yet, but, I am now in the approach year having celebrated (not sure if that is the correct expression) my 39th birthday earlier this week, (thank you to everyone for your well wishes, cards and gifts x) I am constantly being reminded that 40 is fast approaching. The thought that in a years time this adventure will hopefully be concluded successfully and that another goal will be set in motion is pretty daunting. Its hard to believe that in a few days time it will be 2008 and I will no longer be able to say that 'I am swimming the Channel Next Year' time is flying by and I know it will all be here before I know it. I have the vast majority of my annual leave from work booked now, so I have an idea of when we be able to visit Dover and train in the Harbour.

Christmas is almost with us us too, so its been all go at both home, work and school. Training has been restricted to the pool what with the weather being below zero for a week or so and the fact that Kelly was away in the States.. it would have been a little crazy to swim outside without a watchful eye in the present conditions. The sea locally is around 8 degrees and the River/Lake is now 4.5 degrees. I am at work on the afternoon of Boxing Day but will still have time to make the Boxing Day dip at 11am, hopefully I will get 20 minutes or so in what by then will be about 7-8 degrees.. I was on nights yesterday and noticed that the air temperature didn't rise above minus 3 all night, no wonder the water is cooling off rapidly...brrrr.....

I have spent some time reading Lynne Smiths journal this week and have been quite astonished at her training regime, overall work ethic and positive attitude. It is very motivational and I would recommend any aspirant to read it.

Off to the pool we go again.

P.S. no idea what has happened to the the title picture? It doesn't seem to want to display correctly no matter what adjustments I try.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Just Keep Swimming

Hello again,
Training is definitely back on song, had my longest session to date on Monday the 26th by way of a 10km swim with no side effects, I appreciate it's nothing like doing equal distance in open water be it Sea or Lake, but one thing it is good for is the mental side of training, it can be extremely boring swimming up and down a 25m pool... granted the images on poolside change from time to time, the occasional swimmers come and go, but generally speaking its me and my thoughts for a few hours, and that for me is very beneficial, also after a couple of hours.. parts of the shoulder can ache a little so its good to press on through the boredom and discomfort.

The article I have mentioned previously did appear in the Hartlepool Mail and raised some interest from local charities but we are yet to choose the worthy cause for which I will attempt to raise funds during my 2008 Channel Swim, the above photograph taken whilst swimming in the North Sea on November 8th appears with the permission of their editor, although its not the one that was featured with the article.

I had a pleasant email this week from American Adam Hazlett complimenting the blog and telling me about challenges that lay ahead for 2007, he too is swimming the Channel next year and his training etc. can be viewed at Good luck Adam!

Not a lot else to report, I am still trying hard to gain some body fat but its a difficult process when training hard at the same time, hopefully the Christmas season will add a few extra pounds that will hang around into the New Year. Any ideas are welcome...

Friday, 16 November 2007

All Systems Go...

After seven full days away from the water, today, I returned to the pool. After a very tentative warm up, I had a gentle, exploratory swim for about an hour to ease me back into the training regime and assess the progress of the recovery to my back injury. The spasm appears to be about 90% gone, though despite a ridiculously expensive mattress the pain is still present when I wake each morning. I have worked all week and have nights to contend with this weekend as I slowly get back into the routine. Hopefully by midweek I should be back to some quality work. We have a sea swim penciled in for Thursday, on which, as a result of the article in the local newspaper we may even have the company of another English Channel Swim Aspirant. I am still awaiting the photographs that appeared in The Hartlepool Mail which I will post on the blog on receipt.
We are also close to selecting the charitable cause for which I will try to raise some funds too, so slowly things are coming together. A couple of posts ago I also mention AquaSphere, they have very kindly donated a quantity of swim products for my use through the coming year, thank you to them for their generosity.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

That Hurts !!

Just when I thought things were going really well...

Had a day off training on Monday after the tiresome weekend at Dover. Easy swim Tuesday, followed by my longest swim to date on Wednesday (8km), felt really good after this with no real aches or pains. On Thursday, having dragged myself out of bed after a night shift, we had a trip to Seaton for two reasons. Firstly a local newspaper (The Hartlepool Mail) wanted to take some photographs to accompany an article they are soon to publish regarding my Channel Swim/Training. Secondly to have another swim outdoors.

It was extremely windy with gusts up to 60 mph, the temperature was 11.5 degrees and the sea was a little rough, however the photographer managed to obtain the required action shots and I had a relaxing swim with no side effects.
Then what felt like a disaster!.... Friday morning whilst just commencing my very easy pool warm-up, the upper left quadrant of my back went into spasm. I had to stop immediately I could barely breath let alone swim. I was, and still am, in a great deal of pain, sleeping and driving is nigh on impossible. Hence Charlie is typing this blog entry.

I am therefore having some forced rest, I am assured the injury is nothing serious and a full recovery will be made. A similar thing happened whilst on holiday with Kelly and the kids in 2006, eventually it settled down after some rest and treatment so I am not too worried at this stage, better for this to happen now rather than next summer. I intend to make the most of the rest and to work on some other aspects of preparation. Fingers crossed for a quick and full recovery.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Dover Re-visited

As planned, Friday 2nd November saw Kelly and I drive the 340 miles to Dover.... no sooner had we arrived and checked in to the travel inn (with a perfect view of Dover Harbour) that we were off to the Marina escorted by Loraine, where we met with my skipper. He had been out working at sea all day with a fishing party yet was ready to whizz us around to Shakespeare beach for a piloted swim. We boarded the boat and motored around to the famous point where many swims start. I was really excited but also nervous, the Channel was flat as a pancake and Andy stated the conditions were the same well out to sea. Andy steadied the boat, I took a deep breath, gathered my thoughts and jumped over the side into the green water. I was closely followed by Loraine, we initially swam together for a short period then the skipper asked her to exit the water so that he could concentrate on me and my position beside the boat. It was so good, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to practice alongside the actual boat that would support me in 2008 together with my support swimmer and Kelly on board, it was perfect practice... I had taken the prototype feed pole that had been made ready the previous day by George Vickers at Caletrim Fabrications Ltd, so we took the chance to test the feeding procedure too. I should take this opportunity to thank George for his support, generosity and good wishes...thanks to you George and Carl, the pole was more or less perfect.

After my swim we returned to the marina where Andy went through a typical swim route/scenario and explained many things to me with the aid of a Dover Straits chart. Then it was off to the Chinese Buffet for a nice meal. After a long day at work Andy headed off home, we continued our debrief and had far too much to drink at one or two Dover watering holes including The White Horse, where I looked in awe at the many signings on the wall from literally scores of Channel Swimmers. I understand that Loraine got to bed about 3am!! but we were long since tucked up I hasten to add!.

The next morning feeling slightly delicate, we had breakfast and took a brief trip to Dover Castle before again meeting up with Loraine for a nice hour in the Harbour, the sea was more or less flat and was, by our wrist watches around 14 degrees. We swam a nice anti clockwise squarish lap before heading in for more Chinese food.
Following a brief power nap it was time to prepare for the CSA Annual dinner at the Town Hall, we again had a great laugh with Loraine and Nicole and also bumped into Becky Lewis, after the many presentations and speeches we headed back to the hotel, for insufficient sleep before another long drive home.

(Above the terrible twins)
Overall it was an excellent trip... jumping over the side of the boat was simply fantastic, it was Awesome (that's a Loraine ism) to swim next to the boat and great to get back into the harbour for another dip. Big thankyou to Loraine for braving the waters again with me, not forgetting Kelly for your continued encouragement and support. Thank you all. I had a blast.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

No Hassle @ Half Term

Half term school holidays generally result in a distinct lack of training, however this week has been very productive in terms of quality pool swims, including a very beneficial 7000 metre session. I understand it is pointless trying to attain targets with 'garbage yardage' hence I am swimming sets of sprints, pyramids, 200s, 400s, 800s etc all against the clock, as well as a number of drills for technique and breathing etc.. That said...this week did omit any outdoor swims due to other commitments (it is unsafe for me to swim at sea alone without a watchful eye, (its about 12 degrees at the moment) I am expecting to address that in the next few days prior to travelling to Dover. Still, 25,000 metres of quality pool work is right on schedule for the training plan at this stage.

Other things this week,, had a nice email from Freda Streeter regarding my plans for next year and training in Dover Harbour. Also had some positive feedback from AQUA SPHERE which I will expand upon in the next post... oh, and a local stainless steel fabricator (Caletrim Fabrications Ltd) has set to work on a prototype feeding pole for me, again further details to follow.

The Channel Swimming Association Annual dinner is taking place next weekend at Dover Town Hall Saturday 3rd November, we will be attending together with Loraine Verghese, Nicole Gallon and the. We are leaving immediately after the school run on Friday morning with the intention of swimming on arrival, 'round about 4pm either in The Harbour or maybe off Shakespeare Beach, and hopefully similar on Saturday morning.

I am sure we will have a lot to report on our return, as I am excited about getting back to Dover for what is sure to great weekend of discussion, planning, training and yes maybe a little socialising!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Windermere workouts..

Sunday 14th October 2007, just before noon, we attended Darlington Railway Station in order to collect Loraine Verghese (who we new had been on nights and was quite likely to sleep straight though the stop and awake in deepest Scotland), much to our surprise she was in fact awake and arrived bang on time, after brief intros, we grabbed coffee and headed for the A66 to drive around 100 miles cross Country. This passed uneventful, we quickly checked in to our house hotel (The Smallwood Ambleside where we stayed with Swim Trek).

No sooner had we ditched the bags, we motored off to Windermere only a stones throw away, the weather was fresh, not raining and the water was 13 degrees. We had decided to swim as soon as possible before dark to let Loraine check out the conditions on this her visit to the Lake District, we swam from the North End of Windermere in a kind triangular route.. out to Seamew Crag, the water was almost flat though it was cloudy with the amount of recent rain, however the weeds and underwater plant life sometimes reaching the surface were something completely new to Loraine, she was quite spooked at first but soon got over the initial shock....Honest!
We swam the same route back and were greeted by Kelly with the warm towels and hot chocolate drinks. Round about 45 minutes just short of 3km.

We more or less headed straight back to the Hotel, got changed once we had warmed through and spent the night talking about Loraine's Swim and My future Channel swim whilst re hydrating on the usual Irish beverage...Back to the hotel for more gossip and more socialising before hitting the pillow.

Saturday we awoke to the sound of heavy rain on the windows, a peep outside showed it to be typical Lakes weather, it was misty, rainy and cold. After breakfast we drove to a couple of nearby lakes (Rydal and Grassmere) but decided we would stick with 'Big W'. Kelly then hired a sit on Kayak and became our safety boat, which as it happened was just as well, the lake was as rough as the sea, with waves and big swells, let alone the wash created by the passing steamers. As Kelly battled the elements on the kayak we swam from the east side of the lake across to the crag again and returned via the same route, well..we tried to go the same route... but we were pushed well of course by the conditions. At the outset I had planned to swim for at least a couple of hours, but Loraine was sure that the mental gains and acclimatisation would be greater if we split the swim in two parts. Thus warming up after swim number 1. Once we more or less stopped shivering we headed back to the waters edge from the comfort of the Lakeside cafe, to do mental battle and force ourselves back into the water. By now the conditions were worse still, it was tough going and was definitely like being at sea but for the salt water in the mouth, we fought against the wind and currents again out to the crag and followed Kelly back to shore. Between us we had the temperature at 12.5 to 13 degrees. The prospect of returning for the second swim was not nice but once submerged the worst was over. I was glad we had done the swims this way and felt that I had won a psychological battle. Though I doubt either of would have returned without our safety kayaker.

Sunday morning after another late night of forced alcohol (Loraine you are a bad influence) we returned to Lake Windermere in what was quite the opposite conditions, yes the water was the same temperature but it was pan flat and the sun even began to shine, another swim out to the crag and back to shore, a really nice refreshing swim compared to that of yesterday.

To summarise we had four swims over a 48 hour period, in around 12 to 13 degrees in various conditions, had a great time with our guest, and seemed to laugh non stop for the whole duration. A very worthwhile trip indeed...Loraine was great company for us. To the point that on the journey home I asked Loraine if she would consider being my support swimmer next year. She was delighted to accept. We had big hugs at the station and headed or separate ways.

Above: that is infact Loraines head not a lettuce or a football next to me at the end of our final swim.

Saturday, 13 October 2007


Had an easy week in the pool by way of recovery for not only for the shoulders but also the ear..which seems to be fine, last day at work today before we drive across to Ambleside tomorrow for three days training in probably Windermere, Grassmere and maybe one other lake. We are collecting Loraine at Darlington Train Station Sunday midday, then we will have the drive across country to the hotel.
The plan is to have a little swim Sunday afternoon...easy night with not too much Guinness, then up to eat early Monday and hopefully a good swim (anything more than 90 mins will be good but all depends on conditions )followed by a swim down Monday evening before a little more socialising !!

Another swim Tuesday morning if timings and weather permit... then home to drop Loraine for the train again. We are expecting the water to be 13 or 14 degrees (if we are lucky). I have some advice too from Ned Denison of Cork Masters of what to try to achieve for a data gathering point of view, so I will update on our return hopefully with plenty of photos and a tale to tell.

Monday, 8 October 2007

What do we have 'ear'

About two weeks before attending Austria to take part in the Ironman in July 2007, I was blessed with a very painful ear infection in the right ear. I had a series of ear drops prescribed after having a wick soaked in tar packed into the canal for a week (not nice). Eventually the inflammation eased and the drops could reach the source of the pain. I was told no swimming and that the only prevention was to never ever let the ear get wet. Great…some advice that was to a Channel Aspirant. Anyway, I used the setback to begin my swim taper for the event and swam through it albeit keeping the sessions very brief so as not to loose the feel of the water.

I mentioned at the end of the last post that I had been getting some grief from the left ear, well on Friday (05.10.07) I visited my GP and received some drops, but as usual it didn’t help due to the swelling and the canal being more or less closed, so today I popped to the ENT at hospital where again I had them suctioned and guess what …they told me the only cure was not to swim. Some help that is. I do have some moulded swim plugs that cost me a small fortune, but I have also learnt that the hospital will provide me with a set free of charge !! Well that’s got to be a result.

I can still swim, though it is kind of fortunate that I had planned a easy recovery week before a tough weekend in the Lake District. I have another appointment next week when hopefully I will get the all clear. I know swimmers ears can be very problematic so I just wanted to sort early this time and continue to take as much prevention measures as possible.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Typical students !!!!

On Sunday 30th September, as previously mentioned we were planning to meet Becky Lewis (Eng-France 9hours 35 mins) in order to have swim chat and rack her brains. It seemed silly not to grasp the opportunity to speak with her being that she is living so close whilst she studies at Teesside University. We communicated initially via sms and arranged to meet at Lloyd's (that's David Lloyd's gym after a pool session). Kelly, Charlie and I arrived in good time, the RV time came and went.... then I received a text! crossed wires meant she was in Lloyd's wine bar in Middlesbrough.. typical student heading straight for the alcohol !! Not something you would ever catch me doing I hasten to add.

Becky and her boyfriend eventually arrived at the gym where we had a very informal chat about her swim, feeding, training and future hopes. She has been swimming open water for about five years and before her Channel Swim this August had been to Gozo with Swim Trek and had also completed a Windermere 2 Way swim through the night. She obviously has huge talent and I expect her to have a crack at the British ladies Channel record in 2009. She was very helpful and I wish her luck. Thanks for your time Becky.

Another nice action shot by KGB.

As you can see from the training diary below I didn't quite manage the 20km last week but that's not a worry at all, I was more content that we had made a trip to the beach for an outdoor swim. This week has been all go as usual, today is my first day off work after a full seven day rota of shifts (days, nights and afternoons). Training is ticking along nicely and will easy get the 20k in this week.

Bi-lateral practice at sea

We went to Seaton again yesterday (Thursday 4th October) for another dip at 13.5 degrees, oh how refreshing! we were kind of limited time wise what with work etc so only had time for a 45 minute swim, it was much calmer than it has been for a long long time, the swim was at a good speed and there were no safety issues due to the good conditions. It seems that sometimes on the morning of a sea/lake swim that I get quite anxious, this is always much worse than the act itself, yes, getting into the water can still take my breath away but after that initial entry I seem fine and wonder what all the nerves were about. I also find myself desperate to go again the next day once its all over. That said I know by next week it will be the same story all over again. I think the secret is just more of the same and come next May we can be there much more frequently.

When I think about how many hours I spent riding last spring and early summer it should be easy enough to get to the sea at least three times a week, whilst still working on drills and sets etc at the pool.

The only negative is that my right ear has been playing up a little this week, I had an infection in the left ear the week before Austria and it has been fine since having obtained some moulded plugs, I am going to get it checked shortly so fingers crossed its nothing to worry about.

Before I forget Happy Birthday to Loraine for today (Friday 5th October) from the both us. See you next week in Ambleside for what is sure to be a chilly experience!

The pictures are from yesterdays trip to Seaton as usual courtesy of KGB. Thanks Kell x.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Another one bites the dust

Busy week again as usual, but managed to get to Sunny Seaton on Tuesday for a nice swim at 13.5 degrees, (I forgot the camera) was a little bit anxious before getting in due to only swimming in the pool and lakes of late, but once in.. it wasn't too bad at all, the temperature felt fine, and I had a very relaxing swim, probably the most relaxed I have felt in the sea to date. Once out, I felt really refreshed.. so we will definitely try to keep this up as the winter approaches, that said, we have three days training in the Lake District in a fortnight, that is sure to be breath takingly chilly. I expect that to be the last of the swims of any decent length outdoors before we resort to quick dips just to keep the omens at bay. I am planning to just get in the sea/river/lake when possible for short swims throughout the winter, (even if its only ten minutes) the plan being that it will not feel so severe when the spring arrives and the temperature is up to 11 degrees again. I read somewhere that a minute in March is equal to an hour in August, with that in mind I am sure you understand the method in the madness.

Other news Michelle Macy completed her swim with Reg her Pilot on 22 September in the fantastic time of 10 hours and 2 minutes! Congratulations.........If you saw the Sunday Telegraph last week, you may have read the Channel Swimmers article in the supplement...One of the swimmers 23 year old Rebecca Lewis (she swam this year in an incredible 9 hours 35 mins !!!) is studying at University nearby, so we are in the process of arranging a chat so we can discuss training etc..

Also check Sally Gobles blog re her Isle of Wight relay swim....its a great read.

The shoulders seem fine, been a good weeks training so far.
The story continues...........

Friday, 21 September 2007

Less than 11 months to go.....

Hello again, yes that's right less than eleven months to go now until the big day (not that I am counting the days or anything you understand), time is already passing by rapidly and I just know that May will soon be upon us when it will be the start of the season at Dover, as far as training in the harbour.

Its been a tough week in the pool......I received some different swim sets to try make a change/break up the boredom of swimming inside at the gym, I have been spoilt with the outdoor sessions and the twenty five metre black line at 29 degrees is really not exciting at all. Therefore anything that increases the difficulty and interest is welcome. I have been against the clock most of the week and getting out of the water completely out of breath! Pleased to say the left shoulder has been absolutely fine. When it came to Wednesday night it was relaxing to attend a masters group and do some 400s concentrating on relaxed technique and length of stroke. I should easily manage the twenty thousand metres for this week though I am on nights all weekend so that might throw a spanner in the works.

On a positive note I am arranging for another session in the Lake District next month, the water temperature will be down a little further so it should be excellent training before the winter approaches. Weather permitting we will be going to The North Sea over the weekend too (its been terrible this week with a number of red flag days).

Fingers crossed for Michele Macy from the States who will be Swimming The Channel any day now, once she gets the nod from her pilot Reg. She is updating her blog on a daily basis so we are well informed. Other news this week; Charlie today received a package from Loraine to thank him for his efforts for Jack, included within was Charlies copy of Loraine's Channel Swim DVD, I have already viewed it several times, it's very inspirational, emotive and it so puts across the efforts of everyone concerned with the swim.

I am still deciding which Charitable cause to dedicate my Channel Swim to, there are a number of issues in mind but hopefully all will be arranged before too long.

Will post the weekly totals on Sunday together with anything else of interest.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

The L.V. Interview Part 2.

The following text is the second part of the interview conducted with Loraine Verghese, I think you will agree that she has been open and forthright with her answers, some of the information has certainly helped me, I hope it does the same for some other aspirants out there...

“I think the week before my swim was surreal and many thoughts and fears seem to have been forgotten looking back but one thing stays fixed in my mind ! -THE WEATHER as this was what determined my future.
My workouts ended on the weekend before with a 2 hour swim on the Sat 18th August and Sun 19th August where I swam a relaxing two hour swim just to get the feel of the water. Mostly I had to find things to do down at DOVER… because of the postponement of the swim, which left me having to stay down at Dover for ten days and hence I had the absolute joy of making my new home at the SANDOWN guesthouse so close to the beach (Thanks to Mike Cross--conquered the channel twice - who told me all about Martin ) so friendly and understanding of Channel Swimmers needs and mood swings !!! !ha ha .
Please do check it out as a possible option both Martin and Sonia are fantastic hosts and really take care and spoil you .
So the week prior to the swim was a tense one as the weather factor left me in anticipation most days, but thanks to my mum and of course my princess Jodie I was never lacking for company. Mum -I thank you so much for helping me through this without a complaint .I had several thoughts about my feeding too and realised that once a decision was to be taken it was to made with no doubt . With a funny week and all the discussion about electrolyte (the pros and cons ) I decided to keep some on the boat but not use it unless I was in dire straits, as I did not like the taste and felt queasy when I used it. To my surprise whilst I was in Dover I came across the newly released Lucozade and loved it….hence my decision stuck - This is what I would use as the label stated it contained electrolytes and I loved the taste! By this time a week before my swim I was rearing to go and time could not pass fast enough .In hind sight one must enjoy this last high as funnily there is a low to follow after your success unless you can hold on to the fact that you have now joined an elite club of cool people.................who love swimming under pressure .”

M.R. “AND THE NIGHT BEFORE?”......................
L.V. “Gosh that was the most disastrous last night in hind sight !!!!!!!!!!! as well as the morning before my swim !!!! .I remember looking at my watch and realising it was 2200 hours and late that I needed a good sleep as I knew my sleep would be filled with a few disturbances of my tossing around and not to forget Jodie's visits to the bathroom .The last calls from friends to wish me good luck came in at 2200 and after converting MARTIN and Sonia's kitchen at SANDOWN into a workshop area with all my boxes and items that I would be taking on the boat, I felt tired and was ready for bed .
I knew that the MAXIM would need to be prepared in the morning as its potency lasts only for a maximum of 24 hours and so there was only so much I could do that night as I had all the major work in the morning. I made the 24 rolls for my beloved crew before I went to bed 2300 hours and then crawled in to bed realising I would need to be up at 6 am which left me only 7 hours but this I suppose was better than nothing until at the dot of 5 am !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was wide awake and the adrenalin was pumping .My visual planning kept going around like a stuck record in my head .................I was ready there was no doubt.
Today 26th of August was a dream finally coming true there were no ifs and buts .Failure was not an option - I rushed down to the kitchen and that's when the horror struck me I had all the MAXIM to prepare into all 40 bottles that I had to empty of water and fill with( 28scoops of maxim in 2 litres) MAXIM 250ml which I was to take on the boat, It took me and my darling mother Brigitte until 7am to do them all. I began to panic realising in just over an hour I was set to swim .I soon realised this was just my mind zoning in on the task ahead It was almost surreal .I then got calls from my faithful crew saying they had arrived. Jacks father who was instrumental behind the power that drove me arrived after a late night trek from Devon-London only to begin another journey London-Dover in the early hours of Sunday morning to show his support for me.
Although I was glad my support swimmer was already there the night before ,ready to boost my morale during my swim . .I was nervous and did not feel particularly hungry but no sooner had the first bit of toast gone down my throat I realised I was hungry and knew I would be soon crying out for food so I decided to dig in .........................Five toasts and tons of scrambled eggs prepared by the SANDOWN awesome couple (Martin and Sonia) I was soon sated and ready to rock and roll .
I then got a drop to the marina with Jodie sitting on my lap ,she was so excited for me it was such a warm feeling seeing the sparkle in her eyes filled with all the love she could show me " Mummy you are going to swim the channel today .Will it be long before I see you ?" I replied " No darling I will be home to cuddle you in your sleep " satisfied with my reply , she snuggled into my arms content with her knowledge of my whereabouts for the day..
Kindly both MARTIN and SONIA had offered to drop Mum so that she could show the magnitude of her support for me on this mission which would change me forever ..............................then time stood still and all I could see was the miles of water that separated me from France....…”

L.V. “The sun had just risen and the truth dawned on me .......... today was D day and I had a big task ahead of me .With everything packed we headed to the harbour and stashed everything aboard. On the boat Mum realised someone was missing, soon I realised it was ‘Dan’ thankfully he arrived a few minutes later. Andy was then able to set the wheels in motion and started heading towards Shakespeare Beach for lift off .
At 8.30 the fun began, the horn sounded and I dived towards France but not before I turned over to my side whilst swimming to the boat just to wave to my darling mum and awesome daughter who screamed in delight "Go mummy go."
The first three hours was a breeze, filled with fun coming in the form of funny messages on the white board. Despite having several large gulps of sea water I remained focused but soon as the saline water found its way down the intestinal tract I started to feel sick!!! The urge to throw up was the stark reality, but I held it down and changed to water feeds in order to give a chance for my kidneys to sort out this mess .The feeling soon was a distant memory.
At around 1700 hours when I was well into the North East shipping lane I stopped for a feed and then all of a sudden felt this immense sting and saw the most beautiful jelly fish but sadly IT STUNG ME!!! Ha ha and so the happiness and joy at seeing it did not last long I had to grab it with my hand and pull it off me as it seemed to latch on to my left shoulder and to my surprise a cute lil one followed in its wake bobbing away but I did manage to avoid getting stung a second time and Mum and baby continued their venture around the world. I cracked the whip from time to time encouraging myself to race the boat -I LOVED IT. Slowly as the day passed, without further incident I saw signs of sunset beginning and was pleased as I had could see that my goal was finally attainable. However with the 3.6 knot tide pulling me sideways I soon realised I was battling against the weather gods. Because still felt very strong I decided to take up the fight yet soon I was aware that despite my speed and strength I was not going anywhere, barely making any progress forward at all .
Frustration is a funny thing it can make you weak, weak enough to give up, or on the other hand it can make one stubborn!!!! Well I am glad to say it made me stubborn and more determined, that was when my skipper Andy (unsure of my mental state) asked
"Do you want a support swimmer?” Without a moments hesitation almost defiant I said "Hell NO" I was going to make it alone and hoped that Paul (my support swimmer) who was encouraging me from up on the deck throughout, would understand my defiance. Any help at this point would have been no use. It was dark, I could barely keep an eye on the boat and I was nearly there. I could almost touch the lights in the distance. So instead I just cracked on.
At 21.45 hours I landed just a bit past The Cap Gris Nez and felt the bottom! I stood up and of course funnily lost my balance, falling back into the water. But at every difficult moment I felt connected with a hidden cache of strength from deep within, along with a burning desire to succeed and these I WILL REMEMBER so in essence, Yes, I remember it ALL and feel I have learnt something new about myself ................”

“August 26th finally arrived and after a long wait because of dreadful weather I finally was given the go ahead 12 hours before the actual swim ...........Would I change anything ?Many thoughts come to my mind ................ and most of them so positive which easily outweighed the negative that I can only say No Regrets.
I never look back on the past with regret for the things that might have been,
Nor the promises made to my crew that I may have unintentionally never kept for life cannot always be perfect and our days don’t always shine bright and promises are sometimes broken
and the dreams may not turn out just right, but no time has ever been to waste for me NOT EVER and certainly NOT NOW,and I look back on my journey across the channel
with No regret but a SMILE .......... "

“Life is a game, play it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is an opportunity, capture it.Train hard and be true to yourself there can be no cheaters cos you only cheat yourself. Enjoy your training and take help from those that want to give and also remember that your motivation is not our strength but it is our desire that moves us
Its all about your character it becomes destiny. While most are dreaming of success winners wake up and work hard to achieve it, There is no giant step that does it ,it is the little steps ( training, support , friends and crew )that keep going until you reach the shore
Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are, for what you could become.
Know that ..........what the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve and It is the size of one's will which determines success. If you are not afraid of failure. you'll seldom have to face it
Positive attitude it changes does it for me .
The power to impress - the design to conquer & the ability to command respect is the greatest gift of all and most of all.................................To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift of the honour of crossing the channel.
Thanks once again to my skipper Andy - and to the all of the crew of the LOUISE JANE ( Nicole, Dan, Terry, and Jack Browns Dad -Richard Brown )who worked in absolute harmony each linking and providing a vital detail to my success and who made my dream ..........


L.V. “Thank you Mark for giving me a chance to express my thoughts."

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Swim Trek Lakes Weekender

Earlier this year I booked a weekend trip to the Lake District with Swim Trek, the aim being to finish off the summer (if you can call the recent weather a summer!) with some cold open water swims in different bodies of water, as both a confidence building exercise as well as the physical/acclimatisation benefits as oppose to the pool at the gym, (which at times bores me rigid). As well as an obvious break from the routine. We made the short trip of about 90 miles across Country on Friday and met with the other guests and Swim Trek guides at the Smallwood Hotel in Ambleside, made our introductions, had the itinerary explained then settled down for the night.

Following breakfast we drove the hour or so to Buttermere for the first swim of the day, there was about sixteen swimmers, the ages and abilities within the group varied greatly, but only two of us were to swim without wetsuits, we were grouped and began the swim at intervals according to the predicted swim times. We swam the length of the lake in what was around 15.5 degree water, the weather was OK, it was dry and only a slight breeze it felt great to be swimming without the need to turn every 25 metres, knowing we had boat support if we needed it. And what’s more it was weed and craft free. It was silent but for the splash of our group….....Bliss! After the swim and lunch, we walked for about 90 minutes to the next lake...Crummock Water, a much bigger, more scenic and impressive lake . Here there was a choice of swims, a shorter width section or a triangular swim of just over three and half km. Kelly (who by her own admission is not a swimmer) was brave enough to get in and tackled the shorter swim with breaststroke ease. I was well impressed. This was the best swim of the weekend, we really got moving and felt great at the end after 55 minutes again at 15.5 degrees.
Another drive… back the Hotel, a meal attended by almost all the guests and a late night of socialising.

Next morning and slightly delicate! A shorter drive to Coniston, where we swam over and back in another triangular route, probably only 2km or less at what was a degree warmer than the previous day. Another trek/walk through the picturesque Grizedale Forest and onto Lake Windermere for the final swim of the weekend. Here we swam for about 45 minutes in almost constant weedy water. It was a grouped swim again and we managed to get our heads down and before we knew it were back at the shore for food . Where again Kelly took on the Mother role and made sure we were all loaded with hot drinks, food and were wrapped up dry and warm. Thank you Kelly. It made a big difference you being there not only to support me as usual but also for the benefit of the others in the group.

Overall it was a great weekend and I would recommend it without hesitation. Hats off and special thanks to Lesley and Brad our guides for making the break so enjoyable in every aspect.

Granted the distances were not massive (about 11km in total) but it was another step forward and another piece of the jigsaw en route to my dream of Swimming The English Channel in 2008.

Over 23,000 metres this week , the shoulder is holding up…just......on we go.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Charlie and Jack

Just as a brief update to the below post.... late last week I showed Charlie my little boy (he is seven) a you tube video of Jack Brown, he stood and listened to the broadcast and then as cool as you like said "ok I will do a swim for him" knowing that he did a similar thing for the charity CLIC Sargent, I was delighted that he wanted to help again. Together we decided he would do a thirty minute continuous swim at David Lloyds in the indoor 25 metre pool, obviously he need a few rest/drink stops but after thirty minutes on the dot, with his mum counting, he had managed 29 lengths, he was happy to have broken the 700 metre barrier and raised a few pounds (£53.50) in the process. Well done Charlie. We are all really proud of you. You are a top man x

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Back to School

So after six rapid weeks the kids are back to school today....we will all be back to the routines just like July which literally feels like five minutes ago, its been all go what with Egypt, Dover Regatta, Shift work, Parenting and Training. Things always seem a little weird after the holidays, but at least it feels like there are few more hours in the day for training during the actual school hours. I have been managing my 20km a week without to many issues and that too will be a lot easier now time wise. Thursday sees Charlie doing a sponsored swim for the Jack Brown appeal, (his own small way of giving a little back). Then Friday I am off to the Lake District for a weekend with Swim Trek, we will be swimming in a number of Lakes and are staying in Ambleside. The water is around 15 degrees so it should be great training to round off the summer.
On the down side I have developed something of a twinge in my left shoulder, probably tendonitis or impingement pain, hopefully I can get it sorted with some nsaids, ice and massage. I expect its a fault in the recovery phase of my stroke so I will have to have that looked at before I cause any long term damage.
Other than that everything seems to be going according to plan (touch wood). Loraine has the second lot of questions which will be posted on receipt. We will update with a report on the weekend when we return.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

The L.V. Interview part 1

I recently spoke with Loraine Verghese (see post below) and asked her if she would be kind enough to be interviewed for the blog, with a view to enlightening me and other readers on her preparations for her English Channel Swim, she agreed without hesitation, so without further delay here is the first instalment, with more to follow. It would be interesting if we can get others to answer the same questions for us to compare.
MR . “Loraine, some people are aware of your previous achievements in swimming but for those of us in the dark could you give a brief re run please.”

L.V. “Firstly thanks for such a chance to answer such in depth questions!
Well I began swimming at 6 and training seriously was at 8 and half years.
I loved the water, Trained 7 days a week with two three hour sessions each day except Sunday with only one ................between the ages of 8.5 and 22 years so some may say I wasted a lot of my life but I loved it .........................and made many friends.
Got my first bronze national medal at 9 in the junior National Championships
Became the Junior National Champion at 14 yrs(1985)until 18years(1989)
Became the Senior National Champion at 15 and a half (youngest ever)(1986) and remained until 22.
Received my first South Asian Federation Gold medal at 13 and half years in Nepal (KATHMANDU)1984 and my First Bronze medal for the Junior Asian Games In 1986. Was part of the Commonwealth Games team to Edinburgh Scotland in 1986.
Stopped competitive training in 1992
Totally amassed:
Joined a medical college in 1990 and completed my degree in general medicine in 1996 ......
Came to England in 1999 to do my post graduation but instead life’s journey me a daughter Jodie and another dream began when I joined the MET in 2005 start.
In 1986 had a chance to either swim the channel (my dream then) or train in America.. I chose training as I wanted better times at my event 200m PB "2mins 04 sec" after a training camp in Fort Lauderdale where I won the coveted "Camper of the year award 1986"
Favourite event -200m
Favourite Stroke -Freestyle” although I always ended up swimming 10-12 events some times !!!

MR. "Excellent...when you first decided to swim the English Channel how long did you set aside to train, and what specific training were you doing, (distance times temperatures etc)?"
L.V. "Even before my training started I had the blessing of my mothers complete support to look after my lovely daughter Jodie whilst the training got long and tough it was a godsend ………..done with the passion any mother would feel as their daughter took up a challenge that most people in the world would think an impossible task The first of my practise for the Channel began in December 2006 and then a sequence of events started ...............a lot of cold water training down at HYDE PARK -The Serpentine as well as the cold waters of Fairlop .
The first time I dipped into the freezing water it was a shock to the system as no one really can explain what cold water actually feels like . I had such a head freeze with the water temperature being 6 degrees, the pain I endured was immense as we all know but I succeeded in staying in the water for 45mins ......................
I also realised at this point the enormity of the challenge and realised that I needed all the back up in regards to time to train from my Borough Commander who without a moment of hesitation ……….. Gave me all the backing I required and the time to train for the event which he felt was an awesome effort for a good cause.
At the same time started a lot of anaerobic training and cardiac /fat burn at the gym purely because as I stated earlier I wanted a layer of muscle before I could build up a good layer of fat . Resting pulse improved significantly each week literally.........
Flexibility after these strenuous workouts was paramount as I could feel the muscle contracting after each heavy workout. By Feb I was swimming five times a week and a distance of up to 10-15km a week. By March this increased to 15-20 and so on a gradual increase of 5- 10 km each week. Stroke technique was the most important part of this exercise as it is vital.
I got to know my stroke rate and knew how fast I was swimming at any given time. As the swimming increased the gym workouts decreased and more stretching was etched into my routine.
During May I started mentally preparing for my first dip down at Dover Harbour which was an awesome event, as although the temp. was only about 9 degrees I was so overwhelmed, after about 45 mins I knew I was getting hypothermic delusions and got out of the water ....I had only been given 15 minutes to do so I did pretty well in my eyes.
June July and August went in a my peak of distance I was training over 40 kms in a week with my main workouts just being weekends at Dover and a mid week swim only. All gym workouts came to a halt and I found that this did me good as my body was able to recover and get me ready for the next weekends workout ..................
In addition I made sure I enjoyed my training time too and when I needed a break from the continuous training up and down I did give myself a break but with the knowledge that I had already done a good swim or would do one after a while, more so the latter .
I also had many meetings with my skipper and spoke of my swim times, my needs, learnt the tides and learnt my boat and most of all told my skipper what I wanted out of him. I made this event an enjoyable one as it was a challenge of a lifetime ...........................
All my visualisation exercises were full steam ahead during the days leading up to the event ...........I had swum the channel many times over before I had actually faced it in real time ...............................!
Two weeks before the actual swim in August I ended up doing a taper session from two 7-7 back to back weekends it gradually decreased to the final two hour session on the last weekend with a few hour swims down at the beach days before with no strenuous swims . By then the adrenalin and the acceptance of the fact that the swim is only days away ……………CARB RUSH each day I gained a few pounds on the days leading up to the event.
My ethos” No guts No glory" is closely followed by “Amor est vitae essentia” and “carpe diem

MR. "What about rest and nutrition not while swimming but to adjust weight etc, I know I need to gain a gain a lot and this is a concern of mine?"
L.V. “Yes this question posed a great concern to me to and in all I had to put on just under two stone but I am aware that as a result I found that the cold did NOT get to me at all. I usually weigh 11.10 and have gone up to 13.6 and of course am now on a MAJOR DIET!!
With Nutrition I played around with Protein drinks for over four months trying to get my body build that strong muscle layer before I started piling on the pounds to provide insulation, this formula worked miracles and now losing it wisely I should be left with my muscle layer .......I found it easy to put on weight eating high carbs and many meals a day.
I never stopped the workouts though through this period so I never let my body have to feel any drastic change ...............also continuous regular massages kept my muscles supple and able to cope with a lot of lactic acid build up..........alongside was my visual training techniques which as well as rest and nutrition , were some of the most important skills taught in the early years of my career and helped me an immense amount. IE goal setting, relaxation, visualization, self talk, awareness, control, concentration ,using rituals, attribution training and periodization very very important.

M.R. "What were your needs, fears and expectations? "

L.V. “Well going back in my earlier years as a swimmer .I always found life with a challenge and it has followed me through. I love testing myself and the thrill of the unknown beckons me to push myself to new limits way of comments throughout the swim and the whiteboard was the best way to stay focused and take my mind away from the actual pain so all the scrawled messages were set out to keep me entertained and as I wanted to know the truth along the swim skipper Andy kept the promise and I never felt like I was in unknown territory .
I knew that I loved positive reinforcement..............and the attention so I made sure that everyone knew that .
Having Richard (JACKS DAD ) was the most powerful motivator as he was the most important person to me as I watched him revel in his own mental world which seemed so full of solemn thoughts .at one point in the swim I felt the connection it was as if there was only him and me fighting the same cause ............JACK!!!
Failure was never an option and I, as I always have, pushed my body beyond what I would call the comfort zone the pain is almost a HIGH as one could and would call it. I knew that I needed a group of people that would keep my morale up and keep my spirits going! most of all I knew I needed friends who cared .............cared enough to want me to go past the finish line ....
I needed a support swimmer that would get me through the difficult times and push me beyond the pain zone. Paul although our friendship was still new was a kind man who only ever had words of support whenever I spoke to him so I knew he would be perfect for my psyche ................
My expectations through all my visual training exercises had no space for a failed swim ..........I could not fathom the feeling of or thought of not being able to complete the challenge ahead .
I know that my journey is not over and there will be many more challenges along the way I will look out for them and for be grateful for all the friends. "

MR. “How did you choose your crew for the actual swim albeit you have kind of answered that in a previous question?”

L.V. “Well .......For starters high on my list, the main aim get people on the boat with a high level of morale and enthusiasm.

RICHARD BROWN - Jacks Dad to remind me of the reason to drive me across the Channel
my support swimmer.......who had the faith in me to encourage him across the Channel .......likewise I could recognise the fact that he was backing me 100percent .I had total faith in him...........NEVER A DOUBT even though I did not require him to enter the water and to give me any pace support whilst swimming as I decided to take another challenge up whilst swimming and that was …………swim alone -SOLO .Thank you Paul for all your support
ANDY ..........My pilot whom I spent a lot of time allowing him to get to know the drive in me .............. to realise my dream and ambition.
to know how I face hardship and pain
NICOLE GALLON ................... A friend who knew my spirit and ambition and who was fun and ready for a laugh as well as hard work.
TERRY BARRON...................who showed so much enthusiasm when he knew I was doing it ...... I knew he would be a good crew member.
DARREN ELLIOT ............................. a friend whose wife I had just recently befriended and when she knew I needed good support she offered her husbands support on the boat for me to help with documenting it all.

And lastly have to say I loved the white board most of all as it helped me stay in close contact with all the crew as I knew constantly what was going on with the crew and this allowed me to take my mind off the swim for many hours .........................”

That's all for part one, Loraine has the second installment of questions which will appear soonest.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Loraine Verghese The English Channel Swimmer

At 0730 hours on Sunday 26th August 2007, Loraine together with her support swimmer and her Pilot left the shores of England to swim to France. Thirteen hours and fifteen minutes later she clambered onto French Rocks in the complete darkness having conquered the Everest of all swims. Loraine swam in order to raise funds for the Jack Brown appeal, and should be delighted and very proud with her achievement. Congratulations Loraine, we never doubted you for a minute!!. When Kelly first met you at Dover she said to me "She will definitely make it, I can just tell" Here are a few photos from the swim, I will shortly be posting an interview with Loraine where she will tell us all about her build up, the swim itself and life after the Channel.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

New World Record !

Yesterday 24th August 2007 Bulgarian swimmer Peter Stoychev swam The English Channel in 6 hours 57 mins 50 secs, Not sure of the crew and Pilot as yet, but an amazing achievement, more details as and when they are received.
Congratulations what a swim !!!

Update email from Michael Oram :
Captain Mathew Webb started his successful swim of the English Channel on the 24th August 1875. He took 21 hours 45 mins to reach French soil.
Wonder what he would have said if he knew that Petar Stoychev would start and complete his successful Channel swim 132 years later to the day ?

Break the 7 hour barrier with a new World Record of 6 hours 57 mins 50 secs.
That was 6 minutes off the old record of 7 hours 3 mins 52 seconds set by Christof 2 years ago.

Start -- Shakespeare Beach 10:11
Finish -- Point @ Cap Gris Nez 18:08:50

Pilot Boat: --- Gallivant
Pilot: --- Michael Oram
Crew: --- Derek Carter
Observers: Jennie Hanson & Alison Streeter MBE

On the same day 18.5 mins later than Petar the Russian swimmer Yuriy Kudinov left Shakespeare Beach for his attempt at the World record. It was a tense day and a race to the end. His track was identical to Petars with the hourly track compilations showing the swimmers running neck and neck with only small 50 to 100 metre fluctuations in the speeds over each hour. Petar came out on top 8 minutes 46 seconds in front of Yiriy.
Yuriy landed just a bit further down from the point at Cap Gris Nez - under the lighthouse - with a time of 7 hours 6 mins and 04 sec (to be confirmed).
The sea was not flat - it was not rough either, just the usual "Channel chop" we expect after a Northerly blow. The Northerly / North North West wind helped hold up a very weak flood tide then turned to the west to help at the end. The Neap tide was at it's lowest. One of those days when you hope it all goes right -- and it did on this occasion.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Don't Panic !

Its been a funny old week...On Tuesday the 21st we had an early start with the best of intentions, I dropped Charlie at his mums and together with the ever watchful Kelly, headed for Redcar on the North East coast about 20 miles from home.The plan being to arrive around about the same time as high water and swim for at least an hour in the lovely North Sea. It was a little breezy when we left home, however on arrival at the beach the wind was blowing a gale and the sea was in a foul mood, as bad as we had ever seen it. It looked more like December / January weather as oppose to the height of the British Summer! In addition the red flags were flying so there was no way I could get into the water without endangering myself and others. With great disappointment we headed off to the gym and swam in the pool. This emphasised my awareness of the frustrations being felt by several Channel Swimmers who were at that moment held up in Dover due to poor conditions. We are in touch with Loraine Verghese who is due to swim any day, though at this stage it looks likely to be Sunday, Loraine is swimming for the Jack Brown appeal please click to help.

Weather wise the next few days were about the same, so I have been hitting the pool and have done some quality sessions against the clock...Then came Thursday (23 August)..... I was working a day shift, so it was possible to visit the beach at Seaton, where I could liaise with the lifeguards and make an assesment of the sea state. There were plenty of breakers and a big swell, though we agreed that it should be swimmable beyond the white water later in the day. Following work we therefore packed (again) and drove the ten miles or so to Seaton. As always I checked in with the lifeguards both on the beach and at their control station, I outlined my intentions, to which the reply came .."Rather you than me"
Off I went wading into what was obviously the most poor conditions to date, the sun was shining a little, but the waves were incredible, relentless and the swell made it feel like a roller coaster ride. The breakers them selves seemed to go on forever. I gave Kelly a wave and pointed in the direction I was heading, after acknowledgement I was on my way.The water felt good, refreshing yet comfortable enough at 15.5 degrees. I swam south parallel to the shore towards my normal turn around point, however the further I swam the worse it seemed to become. I was unable to see the shore, with only glimpses of buildings in the far distance as I rose to the top of the immense swells.

Without my knowing, the lifeguards and Kelly had all lost sight of me and were becoming increasingly anxious, I could not be located with binoculars from the roof of the vehicle on the shore line, it was therefore decided to launch their jet ski in order to find me and check if I was OK. Oblivious to this I was stroking away fighting the waves and getting battered in the process. A couple of times I was tossed completely over and for a moment or two was lost beneath the surface due to the surprise breakers. My goggles were ripped from my face and I was finding it difficult to get into a rhythm.
For everyones sake, I decided to head in and wait for a better day. On exiting the water I was about a kilometre away from my friends on the beach, as far as they were concerned I was nowhere to be seen. I rushed along the sand, eventually Kelly noticed me and managed to notify the remaining lifeguard who in turn informed the crew of the jet ski.
It wasn't over yet though...the jet ski was then unable to negotiate its way back to the beach with the crew falling off a number of times fully clothed into the water, I felt really bad and embarrassed that this was happening because of their concern for me. They did manage to land later at the headland having lost communications with their colleagues. As for me, well, I thanked them for their help and headed off to the pool to finish the training for that day having left the sea early. Other than that its been a good weeks training so far. Will check back Sunday with my figures. Good Luck Loraine dont be too scared of the dark!!

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Alison Streeter MBE & This week

I briefly mentioned Alison, (The Queen of The Channel) but only very briefly on the previous post having met her at Dover. I thought it only right and proper to give her more of an acknowledgement, she is a lovely person, really down to earth and offers advice at the slightest hint of a question, I believe it is rare to find a person who has reached the sort of heights achieved by Alison yet remain with their feet firmly planted on the ground. She is a diamond. Here is this Wikipedia version of Ali.

"Alison Streeter has conquered the English Channel 43 times, more than anyone in the world. This total includes a triple-channel swim. She also completed seven Channel crossings in one year, a feat made more difficult because she mounted her challenges against this 21 mile body of water one at a time on separate attempts of about one every ten days. Alison is also the fastest woman from France to England (8 hours 48 minutes), a record she established in 1988. She was the first (and so far only) woman to swim the Channel three ways non-stop in 1990 taking 34 h 40 min for the feat. Only 2 other men have succeeded.
The Queen gave her the MBE in 1991 for the above and charity fundraising. To date she has raised over $100,000 for various charities. In May 2006 she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale. She worked as a currency trader all her working life in London until earlier this year, and now spends part of her life in Adelaide (Seacliff) and the summers in Dover in her beloved English Channel as a fully qualified Boat Pilot."

On the training front...its been a strange week, what with work and parenting through the summer holidays. Not to mention two days sickness, one of which I was laid up in bed having spent the previous twelve hours projectile vomiting at half hour intervals. Didn't get to the sea as a result of being ill so only pool swims this week, all better now though.. so hoping for better schedule this coming week. the plan is 20km a week consistently now, mainly intervals pyramids etc against the clock, 30km a week by Christmas. Building to 40+ km by the start of the season in May 2008, Well...that's the plan as it stands, but that could all change, we will see.

This week 15,350km. Not so bad in the circumstances

Monday, 13 August 2007

Dover Regatta Weekend

On Friday 10th August having slept for about four and half hours, we were awoken by the patter off tiny feet (if you can call Charlie at 7 years tiny, he was clearly still on Egyptian time and was fully refreshed having slept 80% of the journey home) I on the other hand was knackered, however it was time to rise, unpack then re pack for Dover. Charlie was dropped at my parents, and we began the 340 mile drive. I am familiar with the route having crossed into Europe dozens of times so there was no navigation problems.

After a lengthy stop over at Bluewater just off the M25, (Kelly was horrified going over the Dartford Crossing ! She has nightmares of how she will come to her doom on a similar structure!! strange but true) we eventually arrived in Dover around 6pm, checked into the Ramada and made our way immediately to the sea front, I wasn't entirely sure of the exact location of swimmers beach though our guesstimate wasn't far off. Kelly picked up the first pebble she set her eyes on and we had a paddle to our knees to check the water in THE ENGLISH CHANNEL. I am pleased to report that it didn't feel too bad after my dread following the balmy Red Sea.

It was such a nice evening, so we walked and talked and took some photographs of the usual stuff, ie The Matthew Webb bust, The Two swimmers and The Harbour itself. Then we returned to the hotel to eat and have some long awaited sleep.

Saturday morning wake to a glorious day, after breakfast we made the short trip to the harbour early enough to claim a parking space, the sea front was already a hub of activity with many French and Italian sellers in situ and various other stalls.

The race registration took place between 8.30 and 9.30 followed by the brief, it was obvious at the briefing that a lot of young club swimmers (racing snakes) were taking part yet they looked barely old enough.

Into the water on the role call at 9.57am with much trepidation, I was convinced it was going to be dreadful after last week, I swam over to the Pier Wall and was delighted that it wasn't the freezing temperature I had feared all week. The whistle blew for the start and the racing snakes were off in a flash, some introduction to the harbour this was going to be. I plodded down to the boundary groin touched and returned to the finish on 34 minutes, by which time Kelly was itching to get to the re hydrate. The presentation took place a short time later, The remainder of the day was spent making introductions to several Channel Hero's including The General aka Freda Streeter, The Shingle Stomper Barry and Cliff Holding to name but a few. Then sun worship and a tipple or two (it was Becks birthday so we had a valid excuse after all)

Saturday evening we spent at The Cullens yard, where we had a nice meal and way too much alcohol (it wasn't my idea)

Sunday and another wonderful day weather wise, down to the harbour for ten (its normally nine for the swimmers but I didnt want to interfere with the regulars on my first day, as they would be doing long 6 and 7 hour swims in anticipiation of making crossing in the near future) I spoke with Freda (see pic below) and felt as though she had taken me under her wing without delay, all the horror stories I had heard were not true, she was lovely and without hesitation I thought "I like her, this is going to be good" She was kind enough to allow me to just do 90 minutes on my first day too.

I was planning to wait but was gagging to get started, I couldn't find my clear goggles but wore my tinted ones getting in more or less right away and began swimming to the Eastern Dock Wall, On the return the chop picked up quite a bit and I couldn't see a thing, the temperature was fine, I swam back and the repeated the same with a shorter loop third time round. We couldn't swim up the other end of the harbour at this point due to other demonstrations taking place. The 90 minutes were up fairly quickly, other than the frustration of my misty goggles and a cold left hand I felt really good. I was my longest sea swim to date and a massive step forward. Later that morning I met and spoke with the Queen her self aka Alison Streeter, she too was really positive and full of great advice. Another lovely person, the place seemed to be full of them, the energy was almost overwhelming.

Before too long we said our goodbyes, received some training advice from Freda and promised to return. Thank you all for a great weekend, for your time and generosity. WE WILL BE BACK

90 minutes @ 18 degrees