The preparation for the Channel relay started a long time ago. The first thing any Channel aspirant needs to do, apart from learning to swim, is to acclimatise to cold water. For a Channel swim to be officially recognised by the governing bodies of the sport you are not allowed to wear wetsuits or anything other than a basic swimming costume. So think about those English coastal holidays you may have had in July and August and how a dip in the sea takes your breath away, sends your “special bits” northwards and reminds you that an extra £2,000 to get you to the Med would have been money well spent. Well, we had to get used to those temperatures and temperatures a lot lower, be prepared to swim in them for an hour at a time, get out, get warm and then get back in again for as many times as it took us to get to France.
By August we were ready, and our swim was scheduled for the 27th of the month. A little bit of bad weather set us back a day, but we finally got the call to get ourselves down to
Each swimmer had to swim for exactly an hour and we had to swim in strict rotation in a set order. Selena, Olympic trialist and as self effacing about her abilities as anyone could possibly be, followed Dave in and between them they cut us loose from dear old Blightly. Charlie was next in, an astonishing swimmer who could swim breaststroke faster than I could swim front crawl, and as she powered away the sun came up from out of the sea. I’m not sure I have ever seen a sunrise from the ocean. I love sunrise in general, but this was just beautiful. As the sun levitated itself clear of the sea, a beautiful three-masted tall ship emerged from the horizon’s haze. All the Channel boats out that morning wrote of the “ghost ship”, as it became known. It will be a perfect image that will live with me forever.
On a hugely selfish note, this summer of training has been my real introduction to the world of Channel swimming. In less than 12 months I will be attempting the journey again as part of my Arch 2 Arc. This time I won't have an amazing team of people. It will just be me and it will follow an 87 mile run the day before. This blog hopes to chart that journey