Monday, 18 August 2014

Interview with EC swimmer Amanda Bell. Part 2 of 4


MR "Are you ok to carry on?"
AB " Yes, lets do this"

MR " So what about the night before, when the telephone rang."
AB " I got a text message from Eddie, just as we had put a film on to take our minds off it, I was struggling to concentrate on the film anyway, it was around 8pm, I noticed the text alert on the phone and who it was from and immediately my heart began to race before I had even read the content. The message basically said there may be a problem with the next swimmer in line and was I ready to go. It took a moment to reply "Ready when you are" Eddie answered stating that he was still out in the Channel with a completed successful swim and would give me confirmation as soon as he returned to Dover within a couple of hours. So we clearly had an hour and a half or so not to exactly run around like headless chickens but to ensure that I was ready if he said it was a go. It was a long two hours. After which the phone rings, it's Eddie and he says "We are on, meet at the boat 4 o'clock in the morning ready to go"

AB "We then started the routine of... we should really go to bed...but we can't go to bed, check and recheck everything once more, we actually again went to confirm the location of the boat even though I had been earlier in the week. We then packed the cars with everything except the feeds. I already had the maxim bagged up in the right quantities ready to put into the bottles to mix, but I wasn't really happy about the crew making my feeds up ! Once I had made the first bottle I let go of the control freak within me and let them carry on..but kept a watchful eye (giggles). Then it was finally time to try and get some rest"

MR " How did you feel at that point?"
AB " Oh wow, I don't even think I could begin to describe how I felt at that point, the timings were certainly going to fit in with my plans regarding crew and accommodation, but yeah, worry, nervous. My phone was going ballistic with messages from here, there and everywhere which was nice but everytime it buzzes you've got to check, meaning I was constantly on a state of alert, coupled with a mixture of emotions, but it certainly wasn't doom" (looks at me knowingly)

MR " So you are now all set for the off, what were biggest needs and fears"
AB "  (pauses for while) Me have needs !! (laughs) as you know we had a crew meeting before we left home and had others whilst in Dover, so everybody knew their specific role, there was lots and lots of questions but I had to try and explain to the crew that there would be times when they needed to use their initiative, to try and expect the unexpected, they did have the famous handbook from Nick Adams (Eton Swim Camp) that I had left them, which would answer many of their queries once I was in the water."

MR " Fears ?"
AB " Don't know about fears but I had many concerns, you know a lot of people are watching, you know lots of people have donated to the charities, you don't want to let anybody down. You want to be able justify their generosity, I was really worried about the journey to the start, you know that journey to Samphire Hoe ! I so did not want to be ill, my nerves were not about the swim but that journey to the start"

MR " Is your recollection of the swim clear or only the highs and lows are there any voids"
AB "  It's all pretty clear, no voids"

MR " OK this is it..tell me what you can remember"
AB "  When we got on the boat  I asked Eddie where we would be starting from, he told me Shakey.. I could have jumped for joy. We had been to the beach the day before so I knew where we were going and I knew what it was like, so I was ready at that point to get in and get on with it, the other thing was, it was dark however it was 4am, it was starting to get light. I would not have liked swimming for three or four hours in the dark at the beginning so that was good. I suppose another fear was that I would have a long swim to the start from the boat, I was relieved just how close to shore we managed to get. He said "We are ready" I just thought, great , I can get off this boat and into the water. It was a relief to get there and it was all going to be over one way or the other. I know that might sound bad but the training was hard work, it had become something I had to do, more than something I was enjoying. Every swim was becoming more and more pressure.

There was a moment right at the start when the crew thought I was having a change of heart, I went down the ladder at the rear of the boat, they thought I was hesitating to get into the water but I wasn't I was just making sure I didn't slip, bang off something before I even got started. And that was it, I was in the water and onto the beach. I noticed that Suva (Neil Streeter's Escort Boat) was next to us with another swimmer, I didn't click at the time, until we set off, then as Suva moved away at a much faster pace I realised it was Nick Adams.

The first hour went really quickly, I reckon we started seeing light within that first hour, first feed not a problem as are the next 2 to be honest, it was all moving along quite quickly, I didn't talk to the crew at the feeds, just had it and continued"

MR " What were you feeling aside from relief at this point?"
AB " I wouldn't say I was completely relaxed, I was trying to remember some of the advice, don't look back, don't look forward, it's impossible not to, especially at the feeds when you lay on your  back to drink's just there."

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