After the 3.8km Seahorse race in Studland Bay last Sunday (2nd girl, as you ask) I decided to have a rest week and wind down for the 10km/5km/3km swims in Weymouth the following weekend.
After swimming on Monday (bad session, very niggly shoulder) I was reading my emails and one came through on the channel forum from the San Francisco Dolphins. 2 of their relay team had dropped out after a previous Channel attempt earlier in the week and they were looking for replacements to swim on Wednesday
Well, of course it was a no no. My shoulder was sore. I couldn’t take time off work so short notice, and…and…..Ok that’s all I could come up with.
By 9 am the following morning I was in the Head’s office grovelling for the day off of which he very kindly agreed. A few quick phone calls later and I was in the team!!!!
I was down in Dover the following morning at 6am ready to go but the wind was whipping the Channel up so the swim was postponed until 9.15 that night. Back to work I went and then home for 2 hours kip before making my way down to Dover again. This time we were on.
After meeting all the team we piled onto Suva with the pilot Neil Streeter and off we motored round to the start point. Scott started the swim from the beach and I took over in second. I was feeling pretty green by the time I started my swim and realised the water was so much colder than I was used to. I was FREEZING! teeth chattering as I tried to swim harder to warm up. I had to breathe to the right where the boat was because every time I turned my head to the left all I saw was black water and NOTHING else!
My first experience of (a)the channel (b) night swimming was not enjoyable and after I got out I was promptly sick and took about 10 mins to dress myself. I curled up in a ball in the cabin of the boat and shook and shook and felt sick for about 3 hours.
Then the sun came up. This was better. I felt better (tip:take anti sickness tablets 10 hours before you travel and then another dose 30 mins before travelling). My second swim was great and I felt very powerful. We were in the French shipping lane and I looked back for one breath and saw a huge tanker passing behind me.Wow, how insignificant did I feel!
Everyone in the team swam so well(there were 6 of us in total) and Scott landed us right on the tip of Cap Gris Nez (the ideal spot) in a total time of 12 hours 46 mins.
What an experience and what a learning curve. Below are some top tips:
1)DO cold water acclimatisation. Lakes don’t count. Get in the sea and swim!
2)Trying to get dressed whilst the boat is seriously rocking is hard. Take ‘easy to put on’ clothing. Loose sportswear is best.
3)Take anti sickness tablets 10 hours before so that they are in your system.
4) Take an urn of hot drink of choice. The time/effort involved in boiling a kettle is just too much especially when most people will be seasick if they are below deck.
5) Do not under estimate how cold you might get. Take your warmest jacket, then your next warmest jacket to put underneath.And a beanie. And gloves. And a hot water bottle.