delete
On Our Way..

On Our Way..

We were on our way! Once we left Dover marina we were in the ‘black of night’ travelling underneath the dark menacing presence of the ‘White Cliffs’ to ‘Samphire Hoe’ halfway between Dover and Folkestone. This was the start point according to tidal forecasts and Reg’s knowing wink.   After much debate between the nervous boat crew, Hagar lost the toss and had to ‘grease me up!’ Check my equipment.. steady girls… ‘strobe lights on’, cap and goggles adjusted! I then descended down the steps to the dingy waiting below in the cold night.     Ray, Reg’s brother helped me aboard and we motored off to the beach. We arrived in the stillness under the cliffs and Ray said.. “Ok, slip over the side and you should be able to wade in from here.” The swim must start and finish on dry land. Following orders and keen to get moving in fresh night air, we shook hands and I thanked him for everything and slipped over the side. Straight under, ‘splutter, choke’. It was far from shallow. I came up laughing, trying not to choke. My ‘old crocks’ shot off my feet into the dark night and cruised away. Yes, I know they had to go anyway!   I swam in and cleared the water, standing there feeling naked. The boat horn sounded. The swim had started. Strobes flashing in the dark cold night I began my first few tentative strokes.   ‘Goodness, I wish that I had learnt to swim properly.’   ‘Don’t rush, warm up slowly and don’t push it straight away.’   I was like a finely tuned carthorse startled out of the farmer’s field. By 0700 the sun had risen and the night to day routine had begun. Feeding every 30mins from a delightful menu of warm carbohydrate liquid, black tea with sugar, bananas, peach slices and mars bars, I swam on at a good pace. Reg, in need of a rest, came out of the wheel house. “Good swim, you’re doing well” And off to the bunk he went, handing control to his brother Ray. When he woke a few hours later the fun and games had began. After swimming really strongly at about the 3 hour mark, I had a ‘shoulder twinge!’   Immediately, I asked the boys for medication. I dosed up with painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets. On I went at a slow cruising speed. However, there would be a penalty to pay later, regarding the tides.   I swam on and begun to settle after the scare realising that although I had to nurse my shoulder, the much revered prize was still possible! I was not feeling too tired yet, operations normal. This was truly a testament to the years of training, events and preparation that I had endured. It felt good.   I was very lucky and the some of the team got to experience swimming with me. The rules state that the first three hours are solo and there after a support swimmer may join the swimmer for one hour every other hour. For me it was truly about sharing this amazing experience, out in the middle of the Channel. Very important, as at least one of the boat crew (TBC) will attempt a crossing in a couple of years.. ‘when his wife lets him’. On we went remarking how strong the tide was at each feed, as I was swept aside like drift wood. The water was...
delete
We have a swim on our hands!

We have a swim on our hands!

  I am absolutely overwhelmed by your following, your messages, good wishes and enthusiasm.. Thank you so much. It is an accomplishment that I truly have not come to terms with at this point and one that I know could not be achieved without my amazing ‘Boat Crew’, your support and the incredible support received from Virgin Atlantic.   I have sat for the past three mornings feeling most moved, having a mug of tea on a bench, on top of the cliffs looking across the water towards France. I realise that something should have been posted shortly afterwards to give you all the ‘run down’, a blow by blow account.. but sadly I was most definitely in a recovery phase after extreme effort. I have not experienced this feeling for many, many years. Unfortunately, my PR manager and chef was also absent.. “He had legged it when the rum ration was finished”!   I arrived in Dover on the 18th September ready for my tide.  Having done all of the hard work during training I was now ‘tapering’! Aiming to arrive at the point of departure in peak physical condition.. that would be a first!!   It consisted of a daily swims off Dover beach varying between 1-2 hours, whilst watching the all important ‘water temp’ begin to fall and eating as much pasta and grains as humanly possible. It was here that we ran into the fastest man in the world, Trent Grimsey from Australia. He holds the record for a English Channel crossing, made last year, 6 hours and 55 minutes! I noticed that he has a very similar swim technique to me.. “Right!” He is the one in the white cap in the middle that looks like a swimmer. Within a few days my trusted ‘Boat crew’ began to arrive and settle in. In amongst the briefings and equipment checks there was some serious ‘behaviour’ to contend with. And then the preparation came. On Sunday afternoon I spoke with Reg the pilot, as he motored back through the Dover marina entrance with an injured swimmer on the way to A&E (shoulder), who informed me that we were on for the following morning, Monday 23rd September at 1000, to be confirmed at 2030 that evening. Panic! I had totally prepared myself to swim ‘Night into Day’ and not day into night! The physiological advantages for me of swimming night into day were enormous. With the daylight or direct sun, if one is lucky, heating one’s back. But not day into the cold night, that was another ball game!! Consequently, I found any excuse not to rest and by 2030, when I called Reg. I was relieved when he cancelled his plans and told me to prepare for Tuesday morning the 24th! The swim was on! Monday was filled with a swim in Dover, just for fun with the Boat Crew, to ensure that they would fully understand the meaning of cold. Then back up to Base Camp for more eating and final preparation. I had a massage and dined at 4pm, ‘more pasta, arghhhh’. Then bed! Uhmmm.. yes, well, a couple of good hours sleep and I was back at the table for the ‘Last Supper’ with the boys at 9pm. A few heads down for a final sleep whilst I went back to bed before getting up for a breakfast of porridge and honey. More eating!   When I awoke, my guardian angel Philippe Fort...
delete
The Party is on !

The Party is on !

It’s a ‘Gooooooooooooooooo’ !! Tomorrow morning on the 24th September 2013, at 0215  I will be leaving Dover marina on ‘The Viking Princess’ fishing vessel Commanded by Reg Brickell to attempt my English Channel dream! I wanted you to be the first to know. I cannot begin to tell how much your support and help has meant to me. It truly has moved me to achieve great things which have all added to the necessary building blocks of success for this swim. You can follow me using one of two methods: I will have a ‘personal GPS Spot onboard the boat. This is a GPS satellite position transmitter which will be live for the day of the swim and show my current location updated every 20minutes. Don’t worry I will not be moving that fast! This link will be on my blog: http://www.swimolibre.com and the direct link to my GPS tracking page: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0fgqVyq6xSisqr2hbbvKSVnNbyb7sZDeI OR.. The other method is on the swim association website accessed from the link below. They are easy steps: 1. http://cspf.co.uk/tracking# 2. However over the ‘white triangles’ on the map with the curser and find the ‘Viking Princess’. Click on it. 3. Then within the info box that appears.. click on current track! 4. That will be me! Must go and get ready for my dip…… My No1 Fans!!...
delete
Panic over!

Panic over!

Right.. panic over.. we were in the middle of ‘The Last Supper’, our style.. cooked by chef John Jenkins.. Last supper rehearsal   And……. Reg called….. We are not going tomorrow! We are now looking at Tuesday. Of corse I will keep you posted. Now… ‘feeding practise..’ I Will update you all.. sorry for the false alarm.. but ‘this is the...
delete
Tense days of nail biting.. OMG.. I paid for that nail job!

Tense days of nail biting.. OMG.. I paid for that nail job!...

From tonight, Sunday 22nd at midnight the ‘tidal window’ opens, running until midnight the 4th October. We chose this window of opportunity because the two tides that run daily in the Channel are at their relative weakest. Why? Because the earth, moon and sun are out of phase, the moon is 90 degrees out of sync. This produces less gravitational pull on large bodies of water. Thus, within this window, I will swim on the first day that the weather conditions are swimmable. Nothing like holding your breath and waiting! Nervous now. I called Reg the pilot, one hour ago (1730, 22nd September). He has put me on standby!! Confirmation will be given later tonight!! We will see.. Yikes that’s possibly tomorrow! However… still enough time to try and run down the ‘Worlds No1 Open Water Swimmer’ and ‘fastest human’ across The Channel over!...
delete
Things are hotting up.. there’s competition!

Things are hotting up.. there’s competition!...

This truly has been a journey and I have met some fantastic people. Last week I was privileged to swim with Otto Thaning who next year will swim the EC again at 74 years old.. with his fabulous and renowned sidekick, Roger Finch (Rog you need to pull up your drinking socks!) and this week.. I was pitted against some great guys: Sylle Estadiö of France, who is swimming the EC butterfly, jumping tomorrow morning, Saturday 21st September. Good luck Sylle! Justin Hanby of Australia.. a secret speed merchant, I am sure, who will be ‘wind assisted’ without any doubt! Due to swim on my tide, with The Famous World No1, top dog… Trent Grimsey  (Australia). Trent who swam The English Channel last year in 6hours 55minutes, claiming fastest crossing time ever is Justin’s ‘boat crew’!! I want to know what exactly my ‘boat crew’ are bringing to the party.. tee hee.. Justin in the ‘Green Budgies’, “Sucking it in..”,  Trent white cap centre, Tim Denyer (red top) EC veteran and fabulous professional coach to all, Sylle in the yellow cap, two lovely gentleman from San Francisco California, the Dolphin club… and some fat guy on the end?? Needless to say, I gave Trent quite a few tips.. he has taken them onboard and I believe that they have already yielded positive results….. His drinking ability has increased two-fold! Eventually we get to swim..   And fast.. in my ‘dreams at...