The Final Assault!



Now, where did I leave you? Ah yes, just off the coast of France at Cap Gris Nez lighthouse feeling ‘fresh as a daisy’.. Not!

The wheel house door flew open and Reg appeared..

“You are doing okay.. now you need to dig in and.. sprint!”

And with that , my pilot went back to the wheel. I knew exactly what he wanted. Four years of preparation, research and training. I had studied many charts and listened to many tales almost exactly the same as mine to this point.

This was no surprise to me.. but the question was hanging thick in the afternoon air. ‘How long for?’ I should not and dare not ask. Not that the crew would have given me a straight answer anyway.

The psychology of a swim like this is immense! Equally important at the planning stage as anything else. Visualising the finish, thinking strength, happy thoughts, all of you followers and ‘investors’, my children on the beach waiting… right arm….. left arm… right…

So when Reg uttered these words I knew that the final tide was kicking in at almost 6km/h! I had to fight my way through and sprint to make landfall!


I started out strong, sprinting for all I was worth. I understood. Failure is forever! I use the word “sprint”, because to me, it was. My stroke rate increased back up to about the same as the beginning of the day, however, my arms were tired; especially the left arm. It smashed it’s way through the waves instead of clearing and reaching forward. I felt every single stroke.

This is normal after approximately 10 or 11 hours of swimming. The first feed arrived, I felt tired but good. The second feed arrived.. ‘when will the sprint be over?’


The third feed arrived and I could see the beautiful white chalky cliffs of Cap Gris Blanc, some 2 or 3 miles east of Cap Gris Nez. A fantastic expanse of sandy beach lay before me, a mere 2 miles away. Still, the tide was dragging us along the coast.


Finally, we broke through the tidal lane which accelerates eastwards off Cap Gris Nez and began to aim towards the beach.

I was exhausted.

For the first time, I questioned what I had left within me. I was giving this my all. Possibly more effort than I had ever asked of my body before during an endurance event.

The boys called me in. ‘What?’ Feed already? That seemed awfully quick. In all honesty I probably wasn’t terribly lucid at this point.

“You are going in!”


‘You are going in to the beach! You are going to make it, but first you must feed once more. You need this to get to the beach.’ My mind was dizzy but the focus remained completely clear. The prize was there before me and I was exhausted.

I saw Ray lowering the dinghy to escort me in, and David appeared next to me, once more ready to guide me towards the beach.

dinghy In5

I can tell you that I didn’t need guiding. Like an ‘old man, pension in hand, I rushed towards the ‘bingo hall’. My pace was painful and the last strokes were killing me but the beautiful beach with rolling sand stretched out before me and the water temperature was rising 18/19C. It felt like bath water! No really, it was! I thought that I would overheat after all those hours in the relative cold of 16.5C.

Ray smiled and David encouraged. The rules state that the swimmer must swim until he/she cannot swim anymore. We had already established that I can’t swim. I continued towards the shallows getting warmer and warmer. Eventually, I crawled clear, paused on the beach in the warm sunlight and struggled to my feet.

The ‘Viking Princess’ boat horn sounded : two long blasts. I had MADE IT, after swimming 55km (34miles) in 13 hours and 53 minutes, I had joined the club.

I was a ‘Channel Swimmer’.

On the beach a passer-by asked what we had just done. I couldn’t speak, so David told him.

“Felicitations Monsieur”

We were definitely in France!

A manly hug from David and I was looking for my children who were unfortunately about  1-2km down the beach.


However, after a supreme 2km sprint down the beach my Faroese friend and City Jet Captain, Høgni, came running up to me Union flag in hand with a hug on behalf of my No1 Fans, my children. Another manly hug.

He was rewarded with a full frontal ‘Channel Grease’ deposit over his clean clothes.

I sadly couldn’t wait for my children to arrive. We had to leave. We are not permitted to stay on the beach longer than a brief pause (enough time to steal sand or rocks), plus the fact that the ‘wind chill’ had suddenly begun to take effect and I was getting really cold very fast. The body had just relaxed finally after a long day. I was bundled into towels and back into the dinghy to re-join the Viking Princess, our flagship, flying the Union Flag proudly.

The shouts and cheers along with the reception committee were warming. And once again the ‘grease monkey’ snapped into action. Luckily minus the grease this time. I was stripped, rubbed down and dressed into warm clothes and a ‘hot water bottle’ unceremoniously shoved inside my swim parker.


Reg then turned us for home and the journey was spent chatting. With each hour that passed I became stronger and stronger.


My team had looked after me from the moment that they arrived and continued to do so to the end.



We arrived back in Dover three hours later and immediately raced of to the legendary ‘White Horse’,  the oldest pub in Dover, where for years swimmers have gone to scribe their names in history on the walls and ceiling of the bar.


“Have you got a pen please? I’ve just swum the English Channel!”



Our Team.



Words cannot express how I feel. This Bruce endeavour is going to take a while to sink in. I can however say again.. it would not have been possible without a great team behind me.

Thank you:

Reg and Ray (Pilots)

Mikey (Observer)

David (Deck Commander)

John (Chef and Comms)

Fast Eddie (Bloody Fast!)

Hagar (Grease Monkey)

Philippe (Frenchie)


The End.


“Or is it????????”