Just Channel Hopping!



  • Arse buckets image Sorry to hear they've had to turn back, but i'd rather that if it means everyone is okay. Great effort all image
  • Oh poo image

    From the track it looks like between them they swam well over the distance; shame the tides/weather conspired against them.

    Hope everyone's ok.

  • Another one in total awe at attempting something like this. Hope everyone is OK. Bloody weather image
  • Thanks for all the support everyone image and sorry for all the nibbled nails but it wouldn't be a pirate event without them image  The tides were what did for us, a shame as we did swim for enough but you can't be too upset at missing out to Mother Nature.

    Saw Caz. LJS and IW at various points this morning so we're all still here.  Race reports will appear later, mine when I have convinced my shoulders that I won't put them through that again in a hurry!

  • Awww, gutted it's not worked out, but far better it be through Mother Nature than illness or injury.

    As others have said, it's still a valiant effort and one to be proud of

  • Blue, when you're ready and your shoulders have forgiven you I'm still up for a swim

    Hope you're all ok today and are enjoying the eating.
  • sometimes you win ..sometimes you lose..you never know unless you try...........hopefully you will all ahve learnt something from the experience............take care.and briliant effort...........looking forward to the race reports..............its the failueres that make the successes sweeter

  • Well...  as someone who has had a go at swimming the Channel I can relate to the disappoint that you must be feeling...   but...  hey...  it'll be there for another try one day and lets face it, it is a very long way and a totally bonkers thing to do in your spare time!    Well done on you achieved so far..   image


  • Gutting but still an amazing acheivement

    Well done image

  • OK guys.  Here's my race report


    Day before


    I got the call around 11am to tell me that we were likely to be going on the high tide at midnight or 3 hours before the high tide at 0900 on Friday morning.  Then my phone packed up for an hour so I was getting frantic as I couldn’t contact the rest of the team!  Eventually it started working again (I have no idea what was happening with it). Once the rest of the team had been contacted ITB and I headed down to Dover where we met up with LJS and IronWolf who were already there.


    The afternoon was spent trying to calm nerves by reading and then meeting up with ITB in the bar for lots of non-alcoholic drinks.  The pilot called at 1930 to tell us that the weather wasn’t clearing up as quickly as expected so we wouldn’t be heading off until the next morning.  We all decided to have a couple of glasses of wine (for medicinal purposes to help us relaximage ) and then all headed off for an early night.



    The Morning


    We all met at breakfast at 0630 where everyone seemed to be in high spirits and ate a good sized meal.  Travel sickness tablets were consumed and at 0730 we headed off around the harbour to find the boat.


    There was plenty of time to get sorted and we met Paul the pilot, Ray the crew and Matt the independent observer as we boarded Pace Arrow.  Several other boats were waiting to go too and their teams were also getting ready.


    We headed out of the harbour in plenty of time.  Usually the boats start off down the coast a little way to minimise the distance backwards up the coast that the tide pulls you, but as we were starting before high tide we landed just West of Dover Harbour and started from there.  The boat took us in a close as it could and then I swam ashore.  The event doesn’t start until I am clear of the water and then step back into the sea.  We officially started at 0835.



    Leg 1


    The first leg was easy as I swam up the outside of the harbour wall where there was no current or waves.  I could feel the water change as I came out from behind the wall but it still wasn’t too bad.  The water temperature the whole way across fluctuated around 16 degrees which is the warmest I have swum in this year so it didn’t feel too cold.  The sun was shining although there were clouds in the sky so it was obvious that it wasn’t going to stay that way.


    Before long I saw LJS getting ready to jump in the water behind me so I knew my time was nearly up and got in close to the boat ready to get out.


    LJS’s leg didn’t go well to start with.  He seemed to struggle to get going and we fretted a bit but eventually he settled and completed his leg without any further problems.


    ITB did a fantastic leg.  I’ll let both of them give their own versions of events.


    While they were in the water I was refuelling on ginger cake and coffee, and frantically trying to reply to everyone’s texts.  Two hours passed very quickly.



    Leg 2


    As I got in it started to rain.  Not much, but a light spitting which was enough to make the surface of the water choppier and remove the sunshine.  Although obviously the sun doesn’t make any difference, it does give you a huge psychological boost and it was sad to see it go.


    I completed my leg without any problems and passed over to LJS who swam better and ITB who was consistently as good as her first leg.


    More coffee and ginger cake and a few more texts and before I knew it I was in again.



    Leg 3


    The water had got a lot rougher.  The rain was now coming down harder, although in the water the only different is the texture of the top of the waves.  They tend to be more aerated so you feel as if you are pulling more air than water.  It became quite difficult to get the breathing into a rhythm as the waves were not all coming from the same direction and there was a definite washing machine effect.  I can’t say that I enjoyed this leg at all and I felt that all my efforts were achieving an up and down effect rather than making any forward progress.  I came out of the water feeling quite low.  We weren’t making as much progress as I would have liked and we were heading for a 20 hour plus swim at this rate.  Thoughts of not finishing began to go through my head, but I keep them from the rest of the team.


    I took my first dose of ibuprofen, topped up on the sea sickness tablets, had more coffee and cake and sent the last few texts before I lost mobile reception.



    Leg 4


    I didn’t want to get in the water.  Ironic as it sounds, I have a fear of going underwater and for me the hardest part of the event is pushing away from the boat and sinking below the surface.  I really had to give myself a good talking to before I was able to jump off the side, but once I was in and had surfaced I was ok.


    Conditions had improved.  The sea had settled down to big rolling waves which are much easier to swim in.  I was enjoying myself again even though the skies were still cloudy but the rain had settled down to a drizzle again.  Finished the leg to discover that we were making progress again and if we could keep that up then we might be able to make a 16 hour crossing, but we needed to get past a certain point before the tide pulled us too far South West, and past the Cap.


    Unfortunately LJS had an awful leg.  Sea conditions were worsening again and he had been suffering with sea sickness from the end of his first leg.  He came out of the water in a bad state where the cold and lack of nutrition had got to him.  The decision was made that he was not in a fit state to swim again and it was at that point that we knew we weren’t going to make it.


    When ITB finished her leg the pilot allowed me back in the water again as it was good practice for my solo attempt next year, but unless I did a stonking leg we were going to miss the Cap and then we were looking at a long, long swim before landing.  There was the possibility of continuing with just ITB and myself, but it would not be classed as an official crossing, so I felt obligated to give it my best shot so that ITB could reach land if possible.



    Leg 5


    Once again I had to give myself a good talking to before I could get in.  Each leg it was getting harder, which I know is stupid because experience should tell me that nothing bad happened on each of the other entries so I had no reason to believe that anything bad would happen on this one.


    I entered the water and gave it all I had.  The conditions were not too bad but it was getting very dark due to dense cloud cover and night beginning to draw in.  Not much to report other than it was hard work and my shoulders were screaming at me.  When I saw Ray lowering the steps without ITB being on the side ready to get in, I knew that it was all over.


    We had got within 3 miles of land, but we were going to miss the Cap and it would have been another 5 hours before we would land.  ITB hadn’t trained for an event that long, and I’m not fit enough yet to be able to do that on my own, so we had no choice but to head for home.


    LJS seemed to take it badly, ITB seemed tired but content and I was pleased that I had completed my target of 5 legs, and had gained a lot of knowledge and experience.  I now know where I need to concentrate my training for the next year before I tackle the solo and I am very proud of my team, and IronWolf for doing the best she could to look after us all even though she was still recovering from her operation and suffered continuously and badly with sea sickness.


    It hasn’t put me off going for the solo next year


  • So near and yet so far image


  • And here's mine.

    On wednesday Caz sent an email saying it was likely to be somewhere between Friday and Monday but there probably wouldn't be much notice so I packed my bags and put them in the car on Thursday morning as I went off to work fully expecting to be home that night.

    Just before noon I was sat in a meeting with people arguing and going round in circles, I got a text from Caz which said midnight tonight or tomorrow morning.  What a great excuse to leave!!  Work had been fantastic saying just go whenever you need to, I don't think they get requests for holiday involving swimming the channel too often.  The swiftest handover emails ever got sent and I was off.

    Got to the hotel and settled in, sorted out some stuff to be in a more sensible order and after reding for a bit went to find Caz in the bar, those 4 hours until we got the news at 1930 went incredibly slowly.

    6 o'clock came round incredibly quickly.  Could see the harbour and water beyond looked far calmer than the night before from the breakfast table.  Everyone seemed in good spirits, amazing what a bit of sun can do,  At 730 we met for the off, Caz with the biggest box of ginger cak I've ever seen in my life.


  • 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"image  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 image.  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

    •  I swam the furthest in a day I ever have
    • I've still swum most of the channel
    • I've done something that not many people have
    • it wasn't the lack of training that stopped me

    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 image

  • 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.

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    You guys really are an inspiration. I am in awe of your achievement and positivity!

  • Worryingly inspirational. Thanks for doing the reports. LJS - are you going to do one?

    Wow. I keep saying it....
  • 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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