Hey team! Happy 2016!
|Cheers over the Channel|
First of all, thank you so much for all of your support throughout my training and beyond. It could not have been done without all messages, phone calls, training buddies etc. Also, THANK YOU so much for your donations for the National Alliance on Mental Illness-San Francisco! We were able to donate $2,000, which is incredible! So thank you, thank you, thank you.
My swim took place on 9/7/2015. The few days leading up to the swim were pretty nerve wracking, especially while observing the fickle channel weather. I tried to keep myself in the dark regarding the weather because I knew that it would only make me nervous and was completely out of my control. But, my pilot Reg, pulled through and managed to secure me a great day. I slept pretty fitfully the night before my swim, but I had been resting a lot in the previous days so I wasn’t too worried. Upon waking up, I put my pre-swim playlist on and got down to business aka trying to trick my nervous tummy into eating breakfast and putting on my first layer of my sunscreen concoction. I also checked Facebook at 4:00am and had a friend request from Lynne Cox aka my idol and decided that was a SIGN of my future success. I arrived at the dock in Dover around 4:45am. It was full with about 12 other swimmers and their crews, and even though it was too early to tell, it was obviously going to be a great day.
I thought I would recap my swim a bit, for those of you who are interested and haven’t heard about it yet. But if you want the TL:DR version: it took me 10 hours 33mins and was the best swim of my life and thanks for supporting me!
Another swimmer and I chatted a bit, which helped to calm my nerves. Once we found Reg, my mom bid us farewell, we pushed away from the dock and headed towards Shakespeare Beach. I slathered on the rest of my sunscreen concoction, attached my lights to my suit/cap and got ready to shed my parka. Reg stopped offshore and I leapt off the boat to swim into shore.
Being that it was still dark, I pretty much face planted climbing out of the water. Plus the beach is pebbled, which is hard to walk up, plus I am not graceful on land. Once I cleared the water, Reg blew the horn and I fell back into the water to begin my swim.
Traditionally, the first hour or so is always the worst part of my swim; I never feel warmed up, my pace is erratic and quitting seems viable. But knowing that about myself, I can gather enough inertia to get myself past that initial rough patch. My channel swim was no exception, the first hour I ended up throwing up my breakfast, my breathing was off and I was trying really hard not to sneak peeks behind me at the coastline. (You see the cliffs of Dover forever, which is really psychologically brutal). But luckily, the sun began rising and I had an eye on a boat piloting another swimmer so I did my best to focus on catching up to the other boat (not that I was racing it…).
|Somewhere in the middle of the Channel|
I kept focusing on the other boat that was slightly in front of me and figured that I could just keep chasing it all the way to France! I was super worried that if I didn’t swim fast enough that France might escape me (which was not happening again!!). Once I was in the middle of the channel, with neither shore in sight, it finally dawned on me that I was really swimming in the channel. And I actually started to have fun. That moment of joy really gave me a lot of energy, but then I had a near miss with a jellyfish, which renewed my focus. I naively had not brought any sort of remedy on the boat for stings, a fact which I realized mid-swim, so I decided that being stung wasn’t an option.
In fact, I can pretty much distill my swim into moments of joy, avoiding jellyfish and asking about my pace during feedings. A lot of people asked me what I thought about while I swam, and to be honest, I can’t remember. This was the first time that I have truly just been present during an athletic endeavor. I knew stuff like that happened to other people, but it had never happened to me before. The time just melted away and I just kept moving my arms towards France. I know that probably sounds really zen and annoying (or at least that’s what I thought about “being present”) but that’s what it was.
|Approaching France, tryna beat the Lousie Jane|
Reg made me some tea and let me sleep in the cabin on the 3-hour trip back to England. He said I was fast like Chloe McCardel and should do a 3-way, to which I said thank you but no thanks. My mom greeted us at the dock and took us home for my requested meal of fish and chips. I took the first warm bath in over a month, and although it felt like my skin was going to burn off, it was pretty glorious.
|Signing the Ceiling of the White Horse|
I still have a hard time believing that I actually accomplished this goal, because I had been working towards this for about 8.5 years (counting the time before my first attempt in 2008). It’s strange to move on after such a long love affair, but I am excited to begin working towards other things.
*If you do want to know why I specifically appreciate you, feel free to contact me and I will list the ways.