Friday, 30 September 2011

British Gas Blog of the Month October 2011

Just had an email to say I have been chosen as blog of the month for cool is that!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Pete Windridge-France

I have even more fantastic news regarding my mate Pete, some will remember form a previous post that we trained together at Ellerton Lake and Dover Harbour for the Champion of Champions event this year. 

Well, yesterday 24 September 2011, virtually 24 hours after Joe Hunters success Pete made his own attempt to swim The English Channel..I am delighted once more to report Pete landed in France after 17 hours and 55 minutes having been escorted by Lance Oram and the boat Sea Satin since before day break into the night.

Many many congratulations and your family should be very very proud
In the presence of heroes, Pete, Me and Joe earlier this year in Dover
So in exactly one month all our targets have been met, My 2 Way Windermere 25 August, Joe EC 23 September and now Pete EC 24 September

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Joe Hunter

I am delighted to announce that Joe Hunter, my training partner for 2011 and all round great bloke, is now officially an English Channel Swimmer, he made it to France yesterday 23 September in a time of 14 hours and 10 minutes...

It has been a complete pleasure to train with Joe, he never once complained, moaned or questioned what I suggested or asked of him, I am proud beyond words, I cannot express how pleased for him.

The student is now the master


Friday, 9 September 2011


Following some study of my training records relating to acclimatisation. I decided it would be handy for me to compare the figures in graph form with regards to time spent in open water over the past few years..I don't have records for 2009 but the other three years are plotted. Obviously a lot of time is spent in the pool too but that is a completely different set of figures. The plan for 2012 will obviously be a nice steady incline slightly  better than the green line for this year.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

And Then What...?

So...I staggered up the slipway at Ferry Nab, 21 miles, 13 hours and 50 minutes after the early morning start..

As I neared the end, drifting in and out of mental sanity I fully expected to burst into tears in shear relief that it was all over. The tears never came, I was spent like I had never been spent before, I looked completely spaced out. A great deal of what happened next is vague to say the least. I remember sitting in the boat with KGB dressing me. I was huddled up in my tracksuit, wearing Sarahs pink hat! and also her socks...The next thing I recall is struggling to walk along the jetty onto dry land at Shepherds, my legs had all but seized up, eventually I was man handled into Pash's car and then what felt like a warp factor drive back to the hotel.

KGB escorted me down the stairs of The Lake House (I would have fallen without assistance) and then I was in the tub, Kelly was telling me the water was too hot but I refused to listen, it felt fantastic. Pash briefly came into the bathroom to say something, I have no idea what as I was almost asleep. As usual KGB was right, I was getting light headed and needed to get out quick. Crawling on hands and knees into bed, that was me finished.

The telephone rang at some was Sarah saying she and Andy's crew were off to eat, I was a little upset that I was in no state to go drink Champagne and no time at all I was flat out.

The next morning I woke feeling like I had been out on  a monster drinking session, a headache like no other and a belly to match. Around midday we drove home, I was still really sleepy to the extent that I needed to stop for a power nap after only half and hour. Once home I managed to eat after which my recovery soon began to accelerate.

I want to say thankyou to my fantastic crew, KGB, what can I say, I understand you took the brunt of my grumpiness towards the end, though in my delirious state I cannot recall what was said, sorry. I appreciatte it was a struggle to fit the swim into your own plans, but you did not hesitate to support me yet again x
Pash,  I had 100% confidence in your ability to Pilot the boat for many many hours, I know it demands a massive amount of concentration and that you had your work cut out all day, not only with your vital role but also listening to the girl gossip all day long. I owe you in a big way.

Sarah Sarah smiley Sarah, as usual you were great to be around, you listened to my every request and had no hesitation getting into the water when I was in bits during the latter stages. You were awesome.

Thomas, Claire, Andrew and Ben, thank you so much for all your help and support in and around the delightful Langdale Chase, (Can you believe that Thomas even arranged for a hot food delivery to the crew mid lake..what a great bloke) we are looking forward to your return from holiday so we can crack open that fizzy!!

Ben with a delivery from 'The Chase'

Joe Hunter my steadfast crazy training partner, thank you for your dedication to the cause, you are next up on the stage..Good Luck.

To all the facebook, twitter and Channel google group members who emailed, called and sent texts your words kept me in the water, it made a huge difference to know you were all watching.

Last but not least..Thankyou to my little man ' Coach Charlie' just for being you.

Friday, 2 September 2011

2 Way Windermere

On the morning of Wednesday 24th August in poor weather conditions we loaded the car and headed cross country toward the Langdale Chase Hotel where Thomas Noblett had reserved rooms in the fabulous Lake House for KGB and I, Sarah Tunnicliffe, Andy, Ruth Williams and Angela his crew. Arriving around 3pm we were delighted with the very plush room and its beautiful surroundings...I was however less pleased with the rain as it lashed down outside.

Before too long the others arrived and checked in, without delay we headed into Bowness in order to secure the Electric Boats required for the swim, the actual marina would be closed at our estimated start time, however the staff at Shepherds were very helpful, supplying us with the gate access codes so that we could take the boats as soon as daylight appeared.

After this it was off to the shops for some last minute supplies (some alcohol for the girls) then back to the hotel where we met up with the extremely hungover Thomas, his boss Claire and of course his right hand man Andrew. The weather had now started to clear as we prepared to sit down for our evening meal. I scoffed my standard two main meals...(pasta followed by steak) and generally relaxed around the table with all involved except for Mark Pashby, my pilot, who was due to arrive very early next morning.

We retired to our room, together with Sarah, where I made up my maxim, and discussed the feeding pattern with the girls, all sorted and off to bed (Sarah went back to her own room!) I slept OK til about 2:30am. After which I was tossing and turning until I finally got up to make coffee around 4:30 and attempt to force down some breakfast at this crazy hour. Thomas had kindly offered to take us to Bowness at 5:15, despite my doubts he arrived bang on time. We loaded his car and headed to Shepherds a year to the day from my first one way Windermere swim (and 136 years to the day since Capt. Matthew Webb first swam the English Channel)

Thankfully no issues with the codes, we were on the jetty and loading our boat named 'Kate' in no time at all, Andy and his crew arrived moments later and set about their own pre swim routine (Andy was swimming one way starting from the South) Capt Pash arrived and was introduced to everyone and that was it...'Team Robson' was reunited, Pash took to the controls and we were off..a brief trip across to the west side of the lake and our start point of Ferry was a beautiful morning, not a breath of wind, not a ripple on the lake but for the disturbance we created ourselves, a few scattered clouds but it looked set to be the perfect day..we had clearly been blessed..

The concrete ramp for the Ferry soon came into view, the team were aware of the plan to grease up on the slipway clear of the water. Pash manoeuvred the boat then accidentally crashed into the brick wall, almost putting KGB through the windscreen in the process! I jumped across onto dry land. Now... I forget why, but KGB decided to do the same, however, with one foot still in the boat and the other on the slipway, we were soon hysterically laughing as she just about did the was so funny. Sorry Kell..

Once we stopped the giggles I covered the usual body locations with Vaseline, (all those that rub and some extra today any areas which might be exposed to the wind), I wasn't sure if it would make a blind bit of difference, but I did so anyway.

It was time... I gave KGB  a kiss and pointed out that I had suddenly began to experience some doubts, I was quickly reprimanded by the whole crew and told to start on the Captains signal...At 0615 Pash gave the shout and I eased into the glassy water to begin my attempt as the boat was positioned to head south aiming directly for Fell Foot, I breast stroked out from land getting control of my breathing, until I was alongside the boat.
The clock had already started but this was not a race, a few final words of encouragement from the crew and I was ready..."OK lets go" I said.. and we were off..gently settling into front crawl, trying to be as economical as possible, my mind was racing but we were doing it at long last. This was exactly what I had spent the last year or so training for and the conditions couldn't have been better.
The feeding plan was to be fluids after the first hour switching 45 minute intervals more or less straight away, I was still experimenting and wanted to try maxim on alternate feeds, having tea, coffee, hot chocolate or similar left to the discretion of the crew and each other feed.

Sarah had updated Facebook and The Channel Swimmers Google Group, as a result of which messages of support soon began to filter through, either through the wonders of the Internet or text message and phone calls..modern technology seemed to working a treat, with the exception of the spot tracker which did not want to play game.

In what felt like no time, the white board made its first appearance with the message "Storrs Temple already" a mile south of the start point, this was nice to know. I am quite familiar with many of the lakeside features so my progress was easy to gauge (at this stage).

As we approached Blake Holme

My mind had started to settle down albeit I was still doing the maths regarding distances and times, I figured if we reached the turn at 3 hours, we would be ahead of schedule by around 30 minutes (I had predicted 3and a half hours per leg, the swim being split into 4 legs in my head)

My stroke rate was being recorded at 60-64spm, and was holding steady as we approached the yachts moored close to Fell Foot, I told the boat to speed ahead so that the girls could use the toilets, by the time I reached the last jetty, the girls were out of sight, Pash handed me Feed 3; Maxim and Juice with a welcome piece of sandwich. I requested Pash to drop the feeds to 45 minutes from now on. Some stretching in the water, then I headed off breastroking through the yachts so as to keep warm and not get too far ahead, moments later the boat was with me again and I was back into front crawl.

Soon as we got beyond the shelter of the trees at Fell Foot I starting having issues with the clear lens goggles I had chosen, I was getting lots of glare as the Sun was shining directly into my eyes every time  took a breath to the right (which is the only side I breathe) whilst I do swim a lot of time with my eyes closed this was getting very frustrating, between breathes and with a word or two per head turn I asked for some tinted lenses at the next feed. It was only 45 minutes but it seemed to take forever.

Feed 4 eventually arrived I changed to some yellow lenses and took the nutrition, which on this occasion was hot chocolate and maxim, chocolate roll and medication. I swam on as quick as possible after the food and the delays of the goggle change, however in no time I was feeling sick, I made a note to not have any more hot chocolate or those type of jaffa cake rolls, the goggles didn't help a great deal but they were a slight improvement...I was wishing I had my mirrored aqua sphere goggles but had to just get on with it.

At 1045 it was time for Feed 5, I was pleased by now that the sun had risen high enough to not be in my eye line and I was able to settle back down with no squinting or head ache worries (I have an intolerance to white light) Feed 5 was Coffee and banana, I told the crew about the chocolate issues and swam on, I could see the mid section of the lake ahead, by the next feed (Feed 6 Maxim and Juice plus jelly babies) we were back at Rawlinsons Nab, my stroke rate was holding at 64spm and I felt great, one more feed and we should be back to the start point.

6 hours into the swim and we were more or less at the start point where the Ferry crosses the lake, I took Feed 7(1215h) hot tea and milky way and asked for my clear goggles to be returned.
It seemed to take an age to get through the midsection behind Belle Isle, through The Lillies and the shallow areas, my stroke rate was now 60spm, seeing the bottom of the lake and weeds going by kind of messed with my balance or eyes or something as I started getting a little dizzy ?? bit strange but it was soon gone once the water depth improved.

Feed 8 (1300h) was taken at the north end of Belle Isle and consisted of maxim juice and chocolate. I was still feeling good and was aware of my location, the time and what was remaining of the challenge. I remember saying to KGB "OK this is where we go into the unknown" (this was reference to my previous longest swim being 7 hours in Dover Harbour).

By this stage my hip flexors and quads were really giving me trouble, I was trying to stretch them at each feed with little respite from the discomfort. This proved to be the most troublesome body part for the whole swim, my concern had been for the shoulders and some ongoing bicep tendonitis issues, however it seemed that all was well except the legs.

Feeds 9 and 10 are a bit of a blur, albeit I know from the records that I had some electrolytes in the shape of 'Lucozade Sport' at 8 and a quarter hours, we were well into new territory time wise, I recall looking across the lake and noted we had  levelled with Langdale Chase Hotel. In my head it was around two more hours til the final turn. It's kind of weird how some parts of the swim are totally forgotten, yet some moments are crystal clear. I vividly remember making the cross over towards Ambleside, thinking in my head " I am actually going to do this"

Sometime before 3pm I was asking for a savoury feed, Sarah asked if I would like a cup-o-soup and chicken sandwich, it sounded fantastic, I looked forward to it for the whole period before it arrived...and yet, as soon as I took a mouthful it was rejected, it tasted way too strong, I declined waiting for the prep of another and swam on. 

The records show I also rejected Feeds 12 and 13 the latter being at 4pm, I took a little plain juice but that was it. 

Andy had by now finished his one way in around 7hours 20 minutes, he was dressed and changed and back on board his escort boat, when I reached the turn point (About 10 hours in, the notes are too sketchy to be precise) he was standing on deck shouting "Turn, Turn, Turn" I had no idea that his boat and mine had swapped places, I turned to face south and found my crew positioned to take over. 

I plodded on, suffering with the swell from the passing Ferries, my stomach started to play up with what I think was motion sickness? I was unable to take any feeds of great benefit, fatigue was taking hold, clearly evident in my pace. Sarah joined me in the water and offered verbal encouragement as did KGB and Pash from the boat. The thought of having swam for ten hours lifted me a little but I really didn't care about time any more.

I was stopping far too regularly to either stretch, complain and or rest, my neck was very stiff, my legs were in agony, each time I stopped I flipped over and made a feeble attempt to breast stroke kick, I was slowly becoming more and more exhausted, Andy's boat was still alongside to the left, I could hear Ruth and Angela shouting at me, trying every trick in the book to get me moving. 

The further into the swim I try to re live, the more hazy it becomes, I was drifting off in the water, I am not sure if I knew exactly where I was, my mind was in a very strange place, I did not believe anything I was told and the end was in in my opinion no where to be seen. I did however feel there was no way I was getting out without getting the job done, the dozens of white board messages and the knowledge that lots of people were willing me on inspired me to plod on. The embarrassment would have been too much to live with.

After what feels like a life time, the slipway from where we had started almost 14 hours earlier came into view, I struggled to the front crawl until I could see and feel the concrete below me. The video on the previous post shows me for some unknown reason clearing the water and looking like a person under the influence of mind altering substances..

I had done no small part due to the fantastic support from everyone involved both my boat and Andy's...

a physical and mental wreck is an understatement....

more to follow and next post..regarding what actually happened next! recovery, lessons learnt and of course multiple thanks and appreciations