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

Friday, 10 August 2007

need sleep zzzzzzzzzzzz

Okey dokey, landed at Manchester late last night, arrived home via KGB taxis by about 1.30 am, up for 7am and now we are packing to leave for The Dover Regatta 2000 metre race (some are calling it a sprint, but I a not so sure about that) another 340 miles down the road to go, I managed to get a few swims in Egypt but no real quality training as such, had a meeting with a 'jelly' at one point or so I thought, then realised it was a plastic carrier bag ....panic over ! the weeks rest has probably done me good, I am flapping a little about the change in temperature from 33 degrees to maybe 16. Whilst I know that is not cold, it will be a little shock to the system after a glorious weeks weather. Will update the blog on our return with pics and race report. Really looking forward to getting on swimmers beach.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Eating Egypt

Here we are in Egypt at Naama Bay just 500 metres from SHARKS BAY !!, and I can tell you that it is ridiculously hot. Charlie and I have been swimming/snorkeling in the Red Sea where the marine life is amazing, Charlie was really brave and swam beyond the drop off, more than would have ever dared at seven years old. It was and is almost too warm to at 34 degrees. The pools are even hotter, its like being at home in the bath, so much for the cold water acclimatisation we had been doing. I feel like that was a complete waste of time now, the 2000m freestyle race at Dover Regatta will certainly be a shock to the system after this. We are just having a little respite from the midday sun, so thought we would drop a line or two onto the blog. I am reading Marcia Cleveland's Dover Solo yet AGAIN ! its still a great read after 3 or more times, check Marcia's website to obtain a copy. We are going to try our best to get up earlier in the morning to do some laps before the water becomes too crowded and prior to the over protective lifeguards being about. The one bonus is that we or rather I am getting plenty of high calorie food down my neck in my weight gain efforts!! Best be off to drink some more beer and eat some ice-cream and cakes.....its a hard life.. but someone has to do it!!