The pirates take to the waves
Walked to the boat where we met up with Paul, the Pilot, Ray and Matt the observer. Everyone so friendly and this really put me at ease, yes I'd trained for this but the thought of being in the middle of the channel and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world is still quite Daunting.
Got to the side of the Diver harbour and Caz headed off to the beach, I was abit disappointed she didn't say "Come on in the water's lovely" Paul sounded the baot hooter and she was off looking great.
She's covered LJS's stint, it was great to see him eventually settle in a get going. Then it was time for me to get ready. It was still sunny so hanging around for a bit wasn't a problem, then I ws told to go. In I leapt and thought actually this isn't so bad at all, it felt like a good swim but with nothing to reference it's hard to tell. In no time at all I could see Caz getting ready to go, those Pirate hats you can see a mile away.
Got back on the boat changed as quickly as I could. I had a chicken and noodle cuppa soup and a sausage roll to refuel and warm up. The 2 hours of Caz and LJS swim went incredibly quickly and they both looked to be swimming well. Then it was time for me to go again.
I jumped in and no idea what happened but I couldn't catch my breath, no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't put my face in the water. It was then that I saw Paul waving his hand up and down saying slow down so I just did breaststroke for a bit. This did the trick and I could finally get swimming properly, I got a huge thumbs and some clapping from Paul, you would not believe how much confidence that gave me.
Th rest of that leg was uneventful and handed over to Caz, getting hold of the ladder was hard work i kept getting pushed back just as I was in reach,
Back on the boat and more sausage roll, some ginger cake and a cup of tea.
Leg 3, there was some serious swell and when Caz got out she'd been breathing 3 stroke, 2 stroke and 4 stroke just to be able to get through it.
Again it didn't seem to take long before it was my turn again. In I got but there were no ships passing for me to head towards so I ended up going off course. I heard eventually Paul, Caz and I think someone else shouting my name and pointing going "That Way!!!" oops . Back on course again and it was my turn to battle the waves, I had the feeling of going up and down and not very far forward too. I did see Caz and Ray on deck clapping at one point which was a huge boost. Eventually it started to calm a little but then there were huge patches of seaweed and Paul kept pointing to go out so I missed the biggest patches.
Caz ready to go again, I'd started to look for the Pirate hat as I really hadn't enjoyed that leg at all which was what I said as got back on the boat.
I'd run out of sausage rolls so ginger cake it was to refuel.
Leg 4, LJS wsn't having a great time on this leg and I wasn't as warm as I would have lliked despite being snuggled in my sleeping bag. I know I said to Caz that the thought of getting in again was the last thing I wanted to do. She rightly pointed out that it wouldn't be so bad when I got in and she was right. I now fully understand the mental anguish of doing something like this and people saying it's as much the mental as physical.
Paul had said I needed to swim a great leg to try to get to a certain point before the tide changed. He also shouted as soon as LJS gets close enough for you to get in behind him GO! I did, I suspect LJS was very pleased to see the Pirate hat and know he could nearly get out. Full respect to him for finishing that leg when he clearly wasn't happy.
I really enjoyed this leg until the last 10 minutes, It seemed to be flowing quite nicely but with no reference I had no idea whether it was enough. I could see a lot of activity on the boat and people huddled talking, I didn't really think much of it. A rather large container ship passed in front of us and that is a very surreal vision.
The last 10 minutes of that swim my shoulders started to ache and I was getting a bit cold. I saw caz ready to go and thought thank god and then she disappeared!! What I was muttering in my head really wasn't very ladylike and it seemed to be forever before she was in behind me.
Back on the boat and after a Well Done I was told that LJS couldn't swim again and we weren't giong to complete it because we'd misseed the tide. My words were thank god although if we had been much closer than we were in terms of time I would have got back in and done 1 more leg. 2 hours I could cope with but not the possible 5 or 6 with us missing the tide..
Caz was still swimming strong but eventually the ladder went down for her to get back in and it was all over.
At the time I was too tired to be disappointed and even now I'm not that disappointed as I have positives
Thank you so much to Caz for organising it all and giving me that mental support before leg 4. Without IW posting on the Crap Swimmers thread I would never have got the opportunity to do this.
I did thoroughly enjoy it looking back, would I do it again? Never say never but right now once seems like enough although I don't like to let things beat me
Seen a few comments from people about the tides being a problem. That wasn't really the case. If you look at any Channel crossing you get a very similar graph.
The boat is always heading at a bearing of about 150 deg, which would be the shortest route if there weren't any currents. So the swimmers are only putting effort in to go in one direction. The currents should pull the swimmer sideways so they don't impact on the forward progress. In the water you can't feel the currents so you are not fighting them
If anything the current on the first half wasn't strong enough and ideally we should have been pulled further north east on the tide between about noon and 5pm. The second tide would have then pulled us back to the Cap.
Or we could have swum further east (i.e. faster) so that we weren't in the strongest part of the current when it got going. If we could have got east another mile before about 8pm then we would have been alright as we would have been close enough to the shore to get in the slacker water.
Ultimately it was down to lack of speed, which was caused by the trouble we had swimming in the washing machine conditions in the separation zone, and various nutrition, hydration and sickness issues of the swimmers, with a bit of bad luck thrown in for good measure. No one factor or person was solely responsible for how it went on the day.
You guys really are an inspiration. I am in awe of your achievement and positivity!
Well done guys. Amazing effort!
IW posting for LJS:
LJS is still very disappointed with the outcome and the realization that his dearest wish to attempt the solo is not going to happen, he cannot cope with the cold and doesn't have enough body fat. He feels he let the team down. He doesn't have the body composition to put on weight either no matter what he eats. To compound that came the discovery that our dog Oz (his best friend) had died before we got home, so he has been very very down and blaming himself for staying in Dover a couple more days instead of returning home immediately. We spent the extra time sea swimming in Deal and Margate. The Channel attempt was his first and only failure ever to complete an event, he is super-competitive, finished his first IM in cold windy rain and with a torn tendon in his leg, so he feels even worse about not finishing the Channel. However, I did get him back to tri club swimming last night and he is now saying he is happy to support SuperCaz next year on her solo. Not me though - I don't want to ever see a Channel boat again in this life after being violently seasick for 13 hours! Have never felt so ill. I shall stay safely on dry land.
I am very proud of all three of them - it isn't something that too many people can manage to do. I have no problems with cold but am too slow so the swim is not something I would contemplate. They all managed to swim a lot of miles and very nearly reached France, so kudos to all three.
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