Tuesday, 26 August 2008


The good news for me is that Charlie flies home tonight, it will be great to see him bright and early in the morning to hear all about his adventures.

Went to Seaton today, just for an hours swim before work, the sea was as flat as I have ever seen it. I could actually see the sandy bottom for the whole of the swim, got spooked a few times by stuff I don’t normally see i.e. stacks of fish and the odd large rock that appeared out of nowhere. I am pleased to say that the recent sighting of a blue shark off the pier was not repeated today, I really didn’t want to have a chance encounter with anything bigger than myself in the waters of the North Sea!

Its back to the two week count down again before the September tide, I hope to tick over with my swims in the cold water and try to keep up the acclimatisation, the water today was around 58F on my watch, still much less than the Channel which was reading 64F last time I checked.

I heard some great news about Paul Forsey who swam The English Channel at the weekend in a time of 16 hours and 8 minutes, (Paul swam in memory of his Dad who passed away on boxing day last year) well done Paul, we are really pleased for you.

Thank you for the positive encouragement on comments, texts and email it really does help me.

Friday, 22 August 2008

lessons of life


Ok its official, the swim should take place on the first tide in September which runs from the 5th onwards.

The re run is absolutely crippling me financially as has the whole year in the build up, however it would seem silly to have sacrificed so much to throw it all away now, the time away from Charlie, all the training, the sponsorship for The J.A.C.K Foundation and my own empty pockets would all be in vain if I didn’t bother returning to Dover. More importantly I promised my mum I would give it my best shot and I know she will be watching over me.

I have sorted transport, accommodation, CSA fees (again) etc. and expect to be in Dover together with KGB on the afternoon of the 4th September, I will not begin unless I am certain I am ready physically and emotionally. Just crew to confirm and that’s us all set.

Thank you for all your well wishes and encouragement and continued support.

I will be glad when its all over, so that I can settle down to a normal life on dry land whilst trying to be a good daddy.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Les Brown: Why People Fail

I like this bloke, there is a stack of his speeches on the internet, I just thought this one was rather appropriate in the present circumstances.

I am still finding it difficult to be as motivated as I was before 080808.

Charlie went away on holiday today with his mum for a week, and the weather is terrible so its not a great day. I should use the week to get some training in between shifts and report back with some positive news. Too much 'negative air' as Lance Armstrong would say!

Monday, 18 August 2008

Hugh Tucker Swims in

an inspiring clip of Hugh Tuckers last moments before reaching France...great for visualisation.

Saturday, 16 August 2008


I just want to add line re Joni Storer (who I have trained with over the winter in some really cold water) and also re Megan Turner (who we met many times at the harbour). Both made their attempts yesterday leaving Dover around 10am, unfortunately both were out of the water 10 hours later (10 hours 45 for Megan) without reaching France, they were only beaten by the weather and dangerous waves. Both should be very proud of their valiant efforts. Several other swimmers set out yesterday...it turns out that only 3 from 13 made it to French soil.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


I am currently investigating the feasibility of swimming in the number 1 slot on the first tide in September. I have the position allocated and will take it if I can satisfy a number of queries. Not least of which is the proviso that the swimmers still waiting on this tide and the remaining August tide all get the go..if not I would be well down the pecking order.

If we do get back in September it will be great to meet up with our good friends from Ireland, they, (Enda Kennedy and his team (Bila, Micheal and Stevie) are returning home tomorrow after over a week of the waiting game.They will hopefully return the same time as me for Enda’s Channel Swim..I know he misses his two young boys terribly and is looking forward to being with them once more.

Charlie remains on cloud nine after reciept of his gift from Enda that I collected this weekend. Thank you so much.

Monday, 11 August 2008


An old school master of mine regularly spouted two particular quotes one of which was “a fool learns by his mistakes yet a wise man learns by the mistakes of others”

How right he was.

I will spare you the finer details but here is Fridays Tale…

By way of background and as frequent visitors to the blog will know, we have visited Dover a number of times this year, the drive is in general a gruelling ordeal, 350 miles taking anywhere from six and half hours plus, on arrival all we ever feel like doing is eating and sleeping. As per the previous post, last week I was playing the waiting game and did not expect to get any opportunity to swim, a swimmer was backed up from the previous tide and I was second slot, therefore in effect I was third in line with no sign of good weather.

Around 8:30 on Friday morning I was down stairs making a cuppa when Charlie called from my bedroom shouting that my pilot was on the telephone, I was offered the opportunity to swim providing I could get to Dover Marina by 1430-1530, I quickly rang KGB and Dave Neal who where at work, without discussion we agreed that it was possible to cover the distance in time if we left immediately, I crammed the car and before too long Charlie was dropped with his Grans and we were racing down the motorway. I was yet to have coffee let alone breakfast, but we continued with haste to make the dead line.

Kelly received some telephone calls whilst enroute from some very informed swimmers and other experienced parties all of whom doubted my sanity and the conditions of the day, I told her I didn’t want to hear any negatives as I was already committed.

Grabbing some MnS pasta enroute, an electric shave in the car and the odd toilet stop at roadside! We arrived at 3.20pm, My support swimmer could not make it in time having been at work and not expecting the call before Saturday at the earliest. Sam Jones stepped in and even purchased some items that we had left behind in the rush to depart. Thanks Sam.

Without time to brief, focus, eat, rest, prepare feeds etc we loaded the boat and motored around to Samphire Hoe, I jumped from the boat swam to shore, it was a surreal, this was not how I imagined it would be in the slightest, I was not excited I was almost in tears as I reached the shore to begin. Begin I did, however within 45 minutes I was vomiting, I do not know if it was entirely as a result of the sea state or some other factors, my first feed was soon returned to the sea as I continued to be sick. Shortly before my second feed I called it a day much to the disatisfaction of Kelly and the other people on board. It was ridiculous situation. I was ill, I was tired before even starting, I was starving before the start but now the last thing I wanted was to eat. My stomach was inside out and I felt I had no choice but to abandon, I have zero regrets about getting out.

However, in hindsight I should never ever have accepted the offer to swim at such short notice moments after a 6hour plus drive with such little emotional/mental preparation. It was a crazy decision I hold my hands up to making a massive mistake.

I want to thank my new friends from the swim world for their 100% support and advice. Especially Enda Kennedy, Freda Streeter, Kevin and Jane Murphy, Cliff Golding, Barrie and Irene Wakeham, Michelle Macy, Sam Jones.

I have the option to swim in September…after a little thinking time, I will decide pending child care, work, time off, finance etc.

I do not consider that I have failed, lets face it two hours is barely a training session, I know for a fact that I am way better that this, I have proven to myself I can manage at least 7 hours. All I want are the conditions and the circumstances for a reasonable chance.


Thursday, 7 August 2008

The Waiting Game

Brief update at 10am Thursday 7th August, I am more less packed and waiting for the weather to change, at the moment it could even be a no go all week due to high winds! That would be bad after all this time, however , that is just the way it is, I hear that early Friday is a possibility, followed by a very unsettled weekend.

Being that I am in second slot, it is most likely that I will depart for Dover on Saturday which allows for another night with Charlie too. The moment I receive news I will post. In the meantime it’s the waiting game.

Thank you for your continued support, sponsorship, texts and emails.

Monday, 4 August 2008

1 Million Metres...

This is my final week of preparations before the beginning of the window of tides for my swim. I don’t think I can effect my fitness in a positive way now, its just a case of eating well, resting between shifts, checking the administration side of things and keeping up the acclimatisation by frequent dips in the sea (I swam yesterday evening (Sunday3rd August) and again at lunchtime today in the North Sea) nothing severe just relaxing swims at around 14 and half degrees C, which is good as it is around 17 mid Channel now. The lifeguards at Seaton were in attendance and they handed me a good luck card…I was touched thank you.

I had a nice chat with Enda Kennedy this morning who has already arrived in Dover ahead of his swim. There seems to be lots of people on this tide besides Enda and myself there is Kevin Murphy, Megan Turner, Maggie Kidd, Vasanti and Rob to name a few… those are just the ones I know of but there are many more, who like me, are no doubt watching the weather and the long range forecasts trying to predict when the conditions may improve. I realise it is pointless ME checking the weather but its hard to resist. When all is said and done it will be the pilot who will decide if and when the time is right.

I am becoming increasingly anxious and excited at the same time, ideally I will not be Dover for the whole week as I will miss Charlie terribly, that said it is hopefully a once in a life time mission. One that will raise lots of pennies for the charity and one that has been on my mind everyday for years. One that Charlie may well get a taste for too in the future. Even though he strongly suggests otherwise at the moment!

Other concerns as well as being homesick will be the waiting around that all Channel swimmers experience, the worry of my support crew arriving on time bearing in mind some of them have a 7 hour drive to contend with minimal warning, can I handle the cold water for maybe 14 hours plus especially the cold water washed up from the depths by passing ships, marine life?…I have read some scary stories of certain things accompanying swimmers across the Dover Straits, seasickness for both me and the crew, and of course will my body hold out.

It is a mammoth task, I don’t think I could have done a lot more by way of training, today’s training swim pushed my total distance since the Ironman last July over 1 million metres.

I was telling a colleague yesterday (who has finished IMAustria a couple of times) that nothing compares to swimming in cold water, no amount of pool work can prepare you for the pain of all kinds you have to deal with in the sea, physically its easier doing and Ironman triathlon in say 12 hours than swimming for six hours in a cold choppy Dover Harbour.

No one said it was going to be easy and it certainly hasn’t been, however the real work and pain is yet to come.

No time now for anything but positive thoughts.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

August has arrived

Not a lot has happened this week, the times I haven’t been working I have had some fun with Charlie during his school holidays, we have been to the cinema, played a stack of football and attended an awards ceremony at work, where as a result of the press coverage for an unconnected matter we had our pictures published in a local rag and managed to get The Swim and The Jack Foundation a mention.

Training wise I have had an easy week kind of forced upon me by other commitments, but at least it allowed my body to recover, to be honest I felt physically better after the 7 and 6 hours swims than after 3 or 4 hours? Maybe it was the sunshine at the weekend that lifted our spirits and made it all seem a little easier. I am glad to say the sunburn on my legs has calmed down…lesson learnt there.

Went to Seaton today about 5pm for an hour, was easy enough but boring being alone with no real route to swim, the tide was very high and the temperature on my watch said 58F, somewhat cooler than Dover Harbour. Sandettie Lightship shows the temperature mid channel hitting 64F. I am hoping to get a longer swim tomorrow after work again, weather permitting, as we have had almost constant rain and some wind for days now.

I have formulated my equipment and packing lists for the boat, as well as a number of questions I want to run by Andy King before I leave home on Friday. The plan is for me to be in Dover Friday afternoon, where I will await the go ahead of the swimmer in first slot. KGB and subsequently Dave Neal will then follow me down ready for the big day.

More news in a day or so regarding my feelings, needs, and fears. Thank you again for all those who continue to support the swim and the Charity, please spread the word and help me in the fight against Nueroblastoma.