Saturday, 16 August 2014

Interview with EC swimmer Amanda Bell. Part 1 of 4

First and foremost thank you for the opportunity to conduct this interview, Whilst I already know what to expect from some of your answers, I thought it would perhaps be of benefit to some open water swimmers with aspirations to swim the English Channel.

At the outset I want to remind people that your swim was dedicated to Georgina and raising funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust / Cancer Research UK and additionally that it's never too late to donate to your charity on the just giving page here.

MR "When you first decided to swim the English Channel how long did you set aside and what specific training plan did you have in mind in order to build up to what is termed the Everest open water swims?"
AB " When I first booked the Channel swim it was to do a relay with a friend,  due to a change in circumstance and as time moved on, this changed to a solo, so I started looking at doing longer distances whilst training in open water, starting with a one-way Windermere in August 2012 (6h 15m) after which I was absolutely shattered ! That was a huge swim for me.
The next year I built up to a 2 Way Windermere (13h 42m in August 2013) with six-hour training sessions in various locations as prep."

MR " OK that brings us to 2014, what was your plan this year."
AB " Initially I didn't have a specific written plan, I just knew I had to swim as much as I possibly could. Looking back and hind sight is a wonderful thing, I don't think I did sufficient interval sessions in the pool during the winter. I certainly didn't complete as many as in the previous year. My training was virtually exclusively in open water even through the winter. "

MR " Do you think that is partially down to the crazy idea of doing an ice mile!? "
AB " Well yes, although it was never really planned to do an official ice mile, I just really enjoy open water, and pool stuff ,well, it's just not the same. That said, it did make a big difference coming to April May time when I was easily able to complete a couple of hours whilst most other open water swimmers were only just starting outside"

MR " So once the open water season started in earnest did you have some targets that you wanted to hit"
AB " Yes, early on it was to get a two hour session as soon as possible. I was keeping an eye on social networks to see who was doing what and where, as a bit of a benchmark to see where I needed to be, after which I just wanted to build up and get as many six hour sessions as possible bearing in mind I had to juggle my swimming with work and family. "

MR " What do you consider to be the most tough or the most beneficial training sessions you did this year?"
AB " They were all beneficial and they were all tough in different ways, one of the hardest things is when you know you haven't been in the water as long as you should, not because you are tired and not because you can't physically do it, just because you can't be bothered. I think the most beneficial will be the seven and six-hour at Dover with Freda's beach crew. I know certainly for myself and a friend, I don't think he will mind me saying we both (Mark Sheridan and I) then considered we had a chance of being successful. Then of course the Seaton Carew swims (she laughs and smiles knowingly) some of which were not successful due to our friend Sammy the Seal !!! "

MR " Am I right in assuming that the swims you consider to be of greatest value were mentally tougher than physically demanding?"
AB "Definitely, I don't think there has been many swims and I know this might sound silly, but physically it was never an issue. Sometimes it's plain boredom."

MR " Thanks for that,  let's jump forward to closer to the big day, I would like you to tell readers about the days prior to your swim following arrival in Dover at the beginning of your tidal slot"
AB " Once we arrived in Dover I kind of made the rule with the crew that we weren't going to have any talk about the weather and if and when I might go, that was going to be entirely down to Eddie (Eddie Spelling Anastasia pilot) it would be pointless to speculate. I tried to distance myself from the whole business of Channel Swimming, yes we went to Dover beach where I swam with others and that was great, but I only did an hour or so. And didn't even get told off by Freda which was quite nice ! I didn't want to get on the treadmill of could be today, it could be tomorrow.  I had some highs and lows that's for sure, though my only big worry was not getting the opportunity to start the swim. I just had to believe that it would work out. Despite trying to distance myself from it all we did visit Varne Ridge which may not have been the best idea. Seeing all the plaques of successful Channel  swimmers, then...obviously...seeing the two plaques for Susan and Paraic really made it hit home, I think the crew were really excited, however for me it had a massive emotional impact."

pause to gather our thoughts and pay respect to lives lost.

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