Fri 24 June – Sun 26 June

Arrived in Folkestone at Little Satmar camp site and pitched my tent. Then went to The Lifeboat in Folkestone. A fabulous pub that serves excellant food.

Met Dan Earthquake, Tamsin, Lex, Caroline, Paul, Paul and Steve for dinner and swimming chat.
I arranged to meet Dan on the beach on Saturday afternoon as I was swimming in Dover on Saturday.

Got back to camp and it was raining. I made a shelter with my car so that I could make a cup of tea in the dry. It worked a treat.

It rained over night. And my god did it rain. My tent stayed dry inside fortunately. It was raining too hard and so I had to put my stove in the car with the door open and make my porridge there. Down to Dover this morning. I was assisting G in picking her team. Not my favourite place to swim (I do prefer Folkestone – it has sand not pebbles!) but some good distances to be had.
Chatted to Freda and Bill Murphy whilst G briefed the team. I watched from the side for a while and then got in the water with Ali for my first sea swim since being poorly. Ali beasted me. She is a faster swimmer than I normally but she left me for dead. And she is still recovering from her injuries. I had on some boat shoes too (which were weighing me down) but that is an excuse really. I was not 100% yet.
We congregated on the beach after for a chat and compared swamkets. Fiona (one of G’s team I suspect) had made swamkets for a few people. I do have to say that I still believe mine is the best on the beach (thanks Kaz) and I have a summer version to come that is still in prototype. But they do the job and mean you can get changed without showing your bits.

Saturday afternoon

I was off to Fribees to pick up the hoodys that our relay team have had made. The picture that is on them is above. They are fantastic.

Then I met Duncan at the arches for training. He had already started so I joined him. 30 minutes swim then a feed. The sea was allegedly 15 degrees but it did not feel so warm. I am normally faster than Duncan and he beasted me too. I realised that I had not recovered fully. But I carried on anyway. I did not feel great but I will not feel great after swimming for over 15 hours either so I put it down as excellant training.

There was no sun although it was not cold as such. I did two hours or so with Duncan and then we went to The Lifeboat for dinner.

We met the others and chatted a while. Dans relay still had not gone and they heard that they may go at 4.30am the next morning.

I went back to camp about 8pm to meet Kaz who had been lured down by the promises of hot weather and sunshine. It was not to be. The mist drew in. It was damp and felt cold and left its mark on the lens of Kaz’s camera.


Sunday dawned mistily and foggily. We struck camp and headed to Folkestone where there was more of the same. A theme is developing here I think. Kaz is not one for the cold and was not happy to hear that it was bright sunny and HOT in London. Still credit to her, she persevered and came along to the beach.

She showed me somewhere else to park for free. (I hate paying for parking) and we parked up there and wondered down to the training ground.

This is where I swim.
Duncan came along at 11am. The water was the flattest we had ever seen it and covered in fog. Visibility was poor so we were unsurprised to hear that Dans team had not set off. The ferries were sounding there fog horns. Not a sound I am used to hearing.
But for the lack of sun it was perfect weather for swimming. Our plan was as before, 30 minutes swim out for a feed. Karen had set up the sun tent (rather hopefully) and we were going back there for food. Duncan had problems from the outset with wetsuit chaffing. I was having goggle problems. But we carried on. I was feeling better today and managed to keep up with Duncan.
Out for a feed

Misty at sea clear on land
Break for a feed and to catch the rays
The tide was going out so the laps were getting longer it was perfect. Duncan finally called it day when his neck was too sore and he left about 2pm. I carried on. Within 30 minutes of him leaving the sun was shining and it was perfect. I could not resist texting him to gloat.. I mean let him know. As we had chatted (and we would both be good at chatting the channel it has to be said) all we had been wanting was some sunshine to go with the flat sea. Perfect for channel swimming then though.
I did 2.5 hours today. After Duncan had gone and the sun came out I did an hour straight off without a feed.
Sadly my goggles had broken. The seal around the lens came loose. Fortunately I had an old pair of prescription goggles in the bottom of my bag so I was able to swim for the hour. It was fantastic and I felt like the old me.
Kaz on shore was enjoying the sunshine topping up her tan. The day was fantastic.
We left Folkestone regretfully about 6pm for a drive home and heard on teh way that Dan’s team had set off at 5pm. Perfect weather perfect conditions. Good luck to them for a successful crossing.

A little swimble

Went to the lake today for a swimble. I was excited about going and work could not go quick enough this morning. I started at 7.30am so  could be finished in good time and still do every thing I wanted to do work wise. I set off to the lake about 1245 in the sunshine.  When I arrived it was peeing it down. Absolutely hammering it.  Ali and G were waiting in the water to keep dry!

A gentle perimeter was all I had the energy for. I was shattered. Obviously still not fully recovered. But it was great to be back in the water. We all three swam together and chatted a little. Plans are in the offing for a Windemere adventure next year.

Pete also wondered why we don;t ditch doing the channel, pay the money we have paid to swim the channel direct to a charity and cut out the middle man. With that in mind we also began to wonder about a 24 hour swim next year down at Leybourne.

Have a great weekend to look forward to of camping and swimming. I have to say I do so enjoy the training. I am excited about the Relay and count my lucky stars that I was poorly last week rather than next week.

Still no swimming!

It is a while since I have been swimming. I had written off the week from 5 June – 12 June as it was my Mums 80th. I knew that there would be little opportunity to swim when in Leeds. Returning on the Sunday I hoped to swim that evening. I had had a sore throat for the latter half of the week and was tired on Sunday. Monday I did not feel quite right and went to work on the train rather than cycling. I came home early as I did not feel quite right.
Tuesday I felt awful. We have a £50 note on your doorstep test at work and I would not have passed it. Infact I spent the next 3 days in bed only feeling marginally more human on Friday.
Saturday I went to marshall the Team Outrageous Sprint (not likely to miss the opportunity to do the registration and body marking!) This was probably a step too far. By the time the race was over (10am)I was shattered. But I wanted to go to Folkestone to pick up the hoodies and Maddy (one of the relay team members wanted to swim in the sea) So off we went and thanks to Jane for driving.

Sadly the hoodies were not ready. But Maddy had a swim. Duncan was there and Caroline turned up a bit late. They had got stuck in traffic.

Maddy Jane Duncan and I had sat up with the Folkestone Harbour rescue crowd but the tide was on the turn so Caroline set up camp under the arches. This proved to be a mistake as an errant large wave caught them unawares and flooded their space. The surrounding sand was dry. It was such a fluke.
Still the first time in a year is not too bad.

Maddy Jane and I set off back.

I have decided to write this weekend off for training too. I am still not recovered. I am still coughing and the relay is in 3 weeks. I would rather miss this weekend than another month because I get a chest infection on top.

So – a resting weekend. I am so used to swimming I don;t know what to do with the time! But a lay in tomorrow is sounding tempting.

Sunday 5 June – What a contrast!

G, Jen and Fiona were all coming to Folkestone today. They are all in a relay team that will go on a July tide next year. We met Ducan, Caroline Nick and his friend Karen (who is doing a solo in July of this year)

What a change from yesterday. It was chilly, a brisk wind (stronger than the day before) and threatening rain.

The sea was still 14 degrees but the waves were huge.

I banished thoughts of a 3 hour swim from my mind. The conditions made this unlikely.

I hoped to do 2 hours.

The reality was just under the hour. I went in first as I planned to swim longer than the relay team and it would save them waiting in the rain for me.

It was hard to get past the breakers and once in the waves were large. I love the waves and set off towards the Burstin. Karen and I swam together for a while and then I spotted G, Fiona and Jen. I swam towards them.

This was their first sea swims of the year and it is harder to imagine conditions that would be worse. I am sure that an attempt would not leave the harbour in the winds that we were swimming in.

I swam to shore with G, and then went back in for a while.

The wind picked up and the waves were larger. I met with Karen and we had a conflab. Although I was loving it, my gut instince was to get out. The tide was going in but the huge waves were still taking us out. They were breaking at sea and getting in and out was a challenge. Karen headed back with Nick.

I decided that it was not worth it for me and had a conflab with Fiona and Jen. Fiona headed back to shore having acheived her 30 minutes but Jen wanted to the full hour so she swam onward. I deliberated with Duncan and Caroline (who both chose to stay in) I was in two minds. I wanted to stay in but feeding was hazardous due to the large breakers at shore.

I followed my gut instinct and got out. Not quite an hour and very disappointing. Duncan and Caroline managed 90 minutes before calling it a day. I was slightly envious but I have learned to trust my gut instinct and that was to get out.

Roger at Folkestone Harbour rescue, thought that I was right. He and the crew had kept watch and he described how big the waves looked from shore. He was relieved when Duncan and Caroline got out. He did not say we could not swim, he would not stop us. But he came down to speak to me and said that he was surprised we had got in given the conditions.

I took this as support for my gut instinct and believe I made the right decision for me.

So we headed back to the lake, via Chummys. A pool session for me tonight beckons instead.

I have to say, I was impressed with G. She confided afterwards that she was somewhat anxious about the breakers. It was brave to get it, it was braver to get out. She was ok in the swell, her anxiety was about the huge breakers at shore line. She later went up to the look at and observed. I think it is fair to say that she saw how large they were and was pleased to have got out without incident.

It is true that we are all confident swimmers. But the sea is to be respected at all times. It can take lives.

A big thanks to Folkestone Harbour Rescue for their vigilence and support. They are all volunteers and gave up their time today to keep an eye on us.

Saturday 4 June – What a beautiful day.

Karen called for me at 9.20 and we went to meet Ali and Claire at the lake for the oneward journey to Folkestone.

It was a beautiful day. The kind I would hope for on 8 July and 4 September for the channel swims.
Air temperature about 24 degrees and the sea (according to the Folkestone weather bouy which never lies) 14 degrees.

We met Caroline, Duncan and Nick down at the beach on an inward tide. With a couple of hours of clear beach we of course chatted a while. This was Claire’s first sea swim of the year although she had swum in the 10k race with Ali the week before finishing in a respectable 4 1/4 hours. Non wetsuit naturally.

So in we went.
I think it would be true to say that the day had the best swimming conditions ever. Warm sea warm air but with a stiff breeze. This made the sea quite choppy but this makes for a more interesting swim.  Beautiful.
My intention was to swim 2 hours but sadly with the chat before I knew I only really had time for 90 minutes. We decided to head out to the weather bouy.
Here I am blocking the sun as I rinse my goggles.

I rinsed my HEAD goggles (as i apply a small amount of cheapo washing up liquid) and off I set. Claire and I were concerned about Ali who, having taking a bit of a beating at work the previous week, was obviously in pain.

We dived in whereupon my eyes begun to sting and I had to take off my goggles. I could not see. I had not rinsed them properly. In the meantime Ali decided that she had bitten off more than she could chew this week. I swam back to shore with her as she was in more pain. She swam side stroke back to shore. I got out and faffed with goggles but in the meantime the others valiantly swam onward to the bouy.

I have to say, I have been swimming without contacts so I could not even see the bouy. I can see the Hotel Burstin but that is about all. When I got back in I decided to swim the width of the beach until the others came back. In reality I bobbed about trying to get my goggles to work.
It is a known truth in swimming that if your goggles play up at the beginning of the session, you will never get a proper fit for the remainder.
Out I went to try some more. They would not fit either. So I went back to the original pair. Proving my theory completely wrong, they now were fine. I had rinsed my eyes with bottled water and they were no longer stinging. Result.
Karen (who will be crew for me on the solo) was coming to the waters edge with my bottles. Trouble is, she is not the size of the Burstin so I could not see her at all. On I swam oblivious to the time as I had taken my watch off so that she could time the swims. She shouted and hollered and I eventually caught sight of her and swam in.
The others were back from the bouy by now ofcourse.  Exhilirated, the waves were huge out there. Claire said it did not feel particularly safe although by the look of the gleam in her eye, she had enjoyed it.
We bobbed around for a while and then went on with swimming. I stopped at one point to talk to a guy who was swimming. Ali and Karen noticed and remarked to each other that I had stopped to chat .. again. If I was chatting the channel, I would be the world record holder. Well the female world record holder as the male prize would go to Dan Earthquake. He was not with us on this occasion but he is as bad as me!
Dan Earthquake – Male record holder for chatting the channel!

The tide was fast coming in. Karen, Ali and Chris (Carolines mum) moved our belongings to the promenade as one by one we got out.
I had done 90 minutes in total. Caroline stayed in for a further 30 minutes. It was fantastic. Claire acheived her full hour and Nick and Duncan did around 90 minutes each too.
We shared our food as we got dry on the side.
We generally chatted on the side while Caroline finished her swim and then posed for a team picture.

Caroline, Kaz, Duncan, Nick, Me, Claire and Ali.
I think I speak for us all when I say we had a great time. I thoroughly enjoyed the day. The sea felt warm and we all coped with the temperature. I have built up some great acclimatisation over the winter. And it is likely that the sea will be a tad warmer for the July and September swims.

The Perfect Goggles

Wednesday afternoons are swim time for me and today was no exception. Arriving at the lake a little earlier than usual (I had started work this morning earlier) my plan was for a 3 hour swim.

G was there and Paul (a fellow solo channel swimmer) was already in the water. He approached the pontoon asking for another hat as his was popping off. We chatted for a while.

I went to sign in on the counter was a range of goggles. Apparently the rep from HEAD had been along and left a selection of goggles. I picked some that I wanted to try. I removed the protective cover, sprayed cheap washing up liquid in them, rinsed them thoroughly and G and I set off.

The goggles were perfect. No leakage at all and really comfy. I shall certainly be buying some. After all these years of swimming I seem to have found the perfect fit.

G and I swam for 3 laps together We made some amusing comments about good HEAD (they being the goggles ofcourse) She had to leave as she had things to do so I carried on alone for another hour or so and then was joined by Jamie. I did the 550m loop on his feet and then called it a day.

My watch indicated that I had done 3 hours 30 minutes. I had fed every 30 minutes.

The sun was shining all day and the water was feeling warm (at least to G and I) who it has to be said are acclimatised outdoor swimmers. The water is very green at the moment though and the algae collects in the swim suit seaping out round the legs. It does look like you may have had a bit of an accident as you leave the water. G assured me she had not!

An excellant day. I am swimming strong. Not least because I have the perfect goggles.

Monday 30 May – Epic Training Weekend

Monday saw me return to the lake. I was surprisngly tired from the weekend so far. I think I had underestimated the effect the cold and the choppy seas + camping would have on me.

So a midday start at the lake (late for me). A 2 hour swim was scheduled and this is what I did. Unusually for me I swam the whole thing alone. Bored with perimeters and as there were no windsurfers, I swam any which way but the perimeter. I came into feed 3 times in the two hours but had only been spotted once. I was well into the zone and the next thing I knew the safety boat was beside me. Concerned that I had not been seen for a while, Mike Russell and Tim came out to make sure I was ok.

I did some intervals in the lake for this session. Needing to mix it up a bit and try and improve speed endurance I worked hard. The lake is much easier to swim in than the sea. A degree or two warmer it also is relatively calm. Swallowing it, although unplesant, is not quite as bad as drinking from the channel.

Melton remarked when I got out that I did not look as if I had tried. I laughed but the comment prayed on my mind.  Later in the evening I began my first “Channel Wibble”. I was wondering if I should defer the attempt til next year when I had more training under my belt.

I text Mike Russell and G to ask them if they thought I was deluding myself. Mike laughed, said he had known me for ten years, had seen the training I had put in over the previous two, including all the cold water stuff and he was convinced that I would be capable. He reminded me I would never break the record, (well perhaps the slowest ever record is in my grasp) but that he was sure, pending unforseen weather, conditons that I could do it.  G echoed these sentiments reminding me with our favourite saying “Nothing great is ever easy”. Thanks to them for their faith in me. It helped to restore my own self belief.

The Channel

It is true, I have committed my whole leisure time to the whole channel endeavour.  I know that wibbles such as this are natural. But I also know that I am enjoying it all. I look forward to training especially in the open water. (Less so the pool although I am doing less of this these days).  If it ever becomes a chore then that will be the time to give up. When you look at the photo, it is not that far really.

My friend Stacey asked me what motivated me to keep going if I was procrastinating. There are two sayings that I have

JFDI and “on the count of three… three”

And then I get going.

Bank Holiday Folkestone Training Weekend 27 – 30 May

Melton and I set off to Capel le Ferne where we would be camping for a couple of days.

Me at base camp

We pitched the tent without incident and then set off to Folkestone. We were meeting Dan, Tamsin, Lex and Mike Reed (King of the Channel)

Dan, Tamsin, Lex Mike and I

After a bit of a mix up with exactly where we were meeting, Mel and I eventually found the others on the pebbly beach. I had a chat with Mike Reed who on this occasion decided to just watch the swimming. Having swum the channel a total of 33 times, that is ofcourse his perogative!

Mike Reed and I

Just a short swim before heading out to tea. The sea felt lovely and warm and this was the only time the sun was to peak through for the whole weekend.

10am start on the beach saw Dan Nick Paul and myself head out into the sea for a swim. The sea was choppy and there was quite a wind. Away from the harbour the going was smooth but toward the harbour the chop meant that there was a bit of a fight on our hands.

Paul, Me, Nick and Dan
I swam for two hours and practiced feeding every 30 minutes or so. It was certainly colder than the lake. But was bracing and great fun.
After lunch at The Lifeboat, we returned to the beach for another hours swim. The wind was getting stronger and the waves choppier. Still it was good fun and I returned to camp with a big grin on my face.

Sadly I did not make the night swim as the winds just became stronger and with gusts of 60mph Mel and I decided to stay with the tent. Shame really as it did stay up and the two Pauls and Dan had a swim along the shore spotted by Tamsin.


A midday start today, we were joined by Caroline. Paul and Nick had left but Paul Watson came down from the Midlands. We braved the choppy seas which were now even harder to swim against. 90 minutes was our limit and Caroline and myself exited the water exhilirated but it has to be said tired. Paul joined us for a swim and powered up and down. It was fun but my shoulder was beginning to twinge and I decided to call it a day.
We waited til evening to see if the wind would drop but Stuart Gleeson (pilot) reported that there was no chance of taking the boat out. With that in mind Melton and I decided to pack up and go home.
An excellant weekends training with good company. It makes it all the more fun and that is what swimming the channel is about for me. I had looked forward to the weekend and it was everything I had hoped.

I am pleased to have met Dan Earthquake and through him Caroline. We have trained together so far in the most appalling weather conditions. But we have also had a lot of laughs. 

Wednesday Swim

Arrived at the lake on Wednesday at two ish. My plan was to see how my shoulder faired.
Mike and Jamie were due to go for a short swimble so I joined them. Gi was lake side. She has a 10k swim in Dorney on Saturday and has been having some shoulder problems. She said she was a little worried. As ever it was good to see her. She is cheerful and a great person to talk swimming with. She gifted me some jelly babies which will be journeying with me to the coast this weekend.

My shoulder was not painful but I was aware of it. Mind you I had stopped the brufen so was pleased. Just did a few 100ms and then went in. Thought it best to have a few more days rest before my marathon swimming weekend. I will be meeting Dan Earthquake et al in Folkestone for a swim fest.  I hope to be swimming at least 4 hours a day Sat – Mon weather and tides permitting.

"Nothing great is ever easy" Captain Webb.