It's taking forever to write an account of my swim. Mainly because I've got so much going on at the moment and I'm finding that I'm not spending much time on the computer. But last night was a late night so today is a lazy day so I'm getting a bit of catch-up time!
I've decided to break the posting of the swim up into stages because I figure it will never get posted otherwise! Plus it will be WAY too long! So here goes with the first installment...
It's hard to even know where to start in describing my swim. It was such a fantastic experience, I can't say that I enjoyed absolutely every minute but I did enjoy most of it. It's nowhere near sinking in yet what I've done. Or maybe I'm still in denial the way I was leading up to it!
We spent a very long 10 days in Dover waiting for the weather to break. Wind, wind, wind. It was a big disappointment considering the forecast before we travelled had been so good so we had all thought we would get out nice and early in the tide. But it wasn't to be. The waiting was frustrating, but my outlook was always that there was nothing I could do so I might as well make the most of my time there. I swam almost every day in Dover harbour and spent lots of time relaxing in the caravan (in the fantastic Varne Ridge Caravan Park!). I even had time to paint my toenails!
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
All through the second week it looked like the weekend was going to be good. The question was, would it be good enough for a two-way? As the week went on it looked like Owen would go on Saturday and me on Sunday when it had calmed down a little more. Until I rang Mike on the Thursday night and he said that it looked possible that Saturday would be calm enough for me to go. So I arranged to ring him again the following morning to get a better update. And started panicking!! I hadn't been nervous for the few days leading up to that because I wasn't sure if I would actually swim or not. But now things were getting real. Mike was very certain that I would go at some stage over the weekend. I was terrified and so, so excited at the thought of it!
The following morning I rang Mike...and the news was scary! I was to go at 10:30am, meeting at the harbour at 9:45am. ALL SYSTEMS GO! It was an absolutely manic day. I had to arrange flights to get Sarah and Imelda over, sort through all of my stuff and pack it, shop for the things that we couldn't have gotten earlier in the week and borrow feeding equipment from Dave Whyte's boat. And eat and try to get to sleep reasonably early. It all worked out in the end, Dan offered to go and collect Imelda and Sarah from the airport which was great. And we had most of the stuff packed up and ready by the time I was heading off to bed. I had a shower, put on a layer of suncream so that it would be well soaked in by the morning, and went to sleep. And, surprisingly, I did actually manage to sleep! The following morning was also crazy, and very emotional for me-I spent half the morning crying for some reason!! I think it was just seeing and hearing from people who were supporting me, I got so many texts and had people calling to the caravan to wish me well. It was great. Finally we were ready to go, and Owen's dad, George, drove me down to the harbour. We had an absolute ton of stuff with us but we figured we didn't want to run out of anything out there!
We met Lance, my pilot, around 9:45 and I gave him the £3000 that was remaining to be paid for the swim. No going back now!! But the thought of not doing it didn't even cross my mind at that stage. I was at the point where I figured that I was going to have the easy job for the next 30+ hours (although maybe a lot of people would disagree with me on that one!). Lance and his crew of Chris and Tanya had to worry about navigating and getting me to France and back using the best route possible on the highest spring tide of the summer. My mother, sister and Imelda had to think about feeding me-what to give me and when, read how I was feeling so as to know what best to say to me and keep everyone at home informed. All I had to do was to try to make their jobs as easy as possible by putting my head down and taking stroke after stroke. I couldn't wait for all the fuss to be over and to be in the water and be able to hand off the thinking to everyone else. And soon that time came!
Lance drove us out of the harbour to my starting point at Abbot's Cliff. It was the perfect day to start a swim-the sun was shining and the water was like glass. Absolutely beautiful. On the way over Sarah and Imelda greased me up and I got ready to go.
Greased up and ready to GO!
By the time we got there I was ready. Lance brought the boat right in and I only had a few metres to swim into the beach to my start. On the beach were Owen, George, Jackie (Owen's coach) and Ned. It was great to have them there to send me off. And I have some fantastic pictures of my start courtesy of George! Thanks George :)
My Send-Off! Thanks guys :)
Contemplating what's ahead...
And we're off :)