Adventures start with Hello
I attempted my first English Channel Relay in August 2020. It was an amazing experience with wonderful people, and although our attempt finished half way across the swim was not a failure, but a lesson in how debilitating sea-sickness can be. I enjoyed the experience so much and knew that if the opportunity arose I would give it another go, being brave enough to get back on the ever rocking boat was never in question.
In July of this year with COVID cancelling foreign travel, we were unable to take the Bancroft’s students on their planned SwimTrek adventure. Disappointed by the cancellation, with my colleagues we instead travelled to the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. A stunning week of swimming with SwimTrek, we were absolutely blessed with the weather and had glorious sunshine and swam in challenging and choppy waters.
During the trip I met Janey, we hit it off instantly, she spoke of her excitement of her first Channel relay happening next year and was using the Lizard Peninsula as part of her training.
After a great week, we all went out separate ways.
Two weeks later the phone rang.
A member of Janeys’ team had dropped out and would I like to join them. I didn’t say yes straight away, this relay is at the end of June, so rather than 18 degrees that I experienced in August 2020, the water will be closer to 15 degrees.
The team is three swimmers, rather than six, more swimming, but less time sitting on the rocking boat. I wanted to be sure I could commit and be fully prepared.
I have spent many years working on my technique and I have the knowledge and confidence that my stroke is efficient and that I have successfully completed endurance challenges without my stroke deteriorating, but I needed to be sure that I can make the time for the preparation that will be needed.
The Channel will be what it will be on the day of the crossing, it may be calm and glorious or bumpy and arduous and you need to be fully prepared.
All three of us met up on Zoom and laughed a LOT. Decision made…I didn’t think about it another moment and said YES!
The training has started. Although, you don’t need to be able to swim in waters colder than 14.5, knowing I can only helps my confidence. As I go into my second season of winter swimming, cold water swimming is still relatively new to me and I am still growing in confidence, which will play an important part in the positive mental attitude and well…..it’s all bout getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
I am keeping swims mindful and technique focused at the moment, maintaining focus in the cold feels like unleashing a newly found super power and I will build the longer swims when the sun starts to wash a little warmth on my back.
With good swimming technique, no single muscle does all the work and you harness far greater power from simultaneous actions (Catch and press) powered and driven from the core, where swimming becomes highly efficient.
I’ve embraced the gym and can feel the benefit of the strength work I regularly do when I get back to the pool.
Day to day I try to stay mindful of my posture and continue with my breath-work, knowing that my improved day-to-day posture and breathing will follow me naturally into the water.
Much of the fun and enjoyment last time came not just from the attempt itself, but the preparation and time spent with the swim and tonic team as we spent time swimming together in preparation.
I’m looking forward to the months that lead up to this English Channel adventure.