Archive | Channel swimming RSS feed for this section

Back in Heidelberg

Update Wed., Sept 23: It’s over for this year, but booked again for 2018!

Last Sunday afternoon I went for a very nice 3 hour swim in lake Waidsee near Weinheim, assuming the water would be 17°C. It did not feel too cold, the sun came out, it was beautiful, swimming felt powerful and I could even work on my style, seeing too many air bubbles around my right arm stroke in the clean water. However, the water turned out to be 19,3 °C the DLRG told me – so much for cold training back home! Since the weather remains extremely unsettled for Dover – only Fri/Sat. looks swimmable right now – and air temps in the Channel are going down to 8°C at night with very chilly mornings and evenings, and water below 17°C, I decided to finally called it a year and feel happy with that. Eddie booked me in again for Aug. 3-8, 2018 (2017 is already full). This time, the idea will be to finally achieve my long-time project, Dover-Heidelberg – at age 61!

Interestingly, Sunday 20th was also the first real swim day in the Channel again since I left Dover – with 11 boats out. And only Friday/Sat. 25/26th might be the next possible days until Oct. So many swimmers still waiting! I hope Karteek will get a chance to swim!

Update Wed, Sept. 16:

Back home in rainy Heidelberg since Monday morning. Sunday 13th – which had looked good for the first springtide swimmers – had only 2 swims, as the weather forecast was for windforce 6 in the afternoon and storms for the next week. And only one of them made it. Eddie, my pilot, also decided not to go out, and the Irish relay team we met at Varne Ridge must have been so disappointed, like everyone else waiting. Some swimmers had already gotten ready to start their swim early in the morning when it was cancelled last minute. From the ferry at 11 p.m., however, the water looked so calm all the way – it was hard to believe that Monday 7th had been the only real swim day for the whole time I was in Dover.

I had gotten in two very good training swims on Saturday and Sunday just before I boarded the Euroline bus back to Heidelberg. 5 hours in very wavy but sunny conditions, with an absolute washing machine near the “wall” at the Eastern Docks on Saturday, and 6 hours on Sunday in calm but colder conditions (air 14 to 15°C, water around 17°C), with rain showers, which always gives me extra joy and an extra peaceful feeling when swimming. It is interesting how you get “into” the swimming on a deeper level only after a couple of hours – so all these longer training swims are just a small taste of the “big one”.

It was great to swim along with other swimmers for company, some of them – like Cliff Golding – had been waiting since July for a weather window! The beach crew, with Emma, Freda, Pat etc. are so amazing, they held out for us last two 6 hour swimmers in the rain and cold – thank you so much for all the support!

I felt so ready to go – but it was not to be. Who knows what it is good for.  Next weekend looks like very calm weather, the high pressure zone is coming up big, so at least these swimmers will get a chance (and the pilots have an income!). But I am not convinced anymore I will go back for the next tide – time and money just add up. However, I am totally inspired now to continue training seriously for Dover-Heidelberg in 2017 – when I will be 60. That would be real self-transcendence again.

Are most remarkable.

― Sri Chinmoy

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Ernest Hemingway

Thank you everyone for your support, inner and outer, for your prayers, messages, concern and oneness! It felt amazing and I am sure it was a very good thing we were back in Dover as a team! 

Here a few philosophical, illumining and inspiring poems by my teacher re success and progress (with a link to the original) – it is too hard to chose only one or two:

Quite often
Our outer success hinders
Our inner progress.

― Sri Chinmoy

A life of success
Comes and goes.
A heart of progress
Grows and glows.

Sri Chinmoy

Success is a mind-game
That has a very short breath.
Progress is a heart-song
That never ends.

― Sri Chinmoy

Is what we always
Is what we always

― Sri Chinmoy

Outer success
Can easily stand in the way of
Our inner progress.

― Sri Chinmoy

Comments { 0 }

Too windy – maybe a last chance on the next neap tides?

Update Wed. Sept.9th – our Channel anniversary:

No swims today and maybe even the next and last days of the tide. Swimming in the harbour this morning was great – finally some waves and a real Channel feeling! The sun is out and the water glittering and warmer again. If Friday is also no swim, then I will get two long training swims in on the weekend and go back Sunday night. And see if there is still a chance to try on the last tide of September – when Karteek will also be down here.

Update Sept 10th:

smileysWhite horses in the harbour and out in the Channel (waves with white caps, windforce 4 or more), sun is out, a bit misty. Great for training in the harbour with a real Channel feeling.

Met my boat pilot Eddie on the boat in the marina – Sunday looks like a short swimmable window, but he has a relay booked for this first spring tide spot. Before and after: “crap”. But a high pressure zone is lurking in the southwest, hopefully making its way up for the next neap tide. So my helpers are going back today and Friday, myself Sunday night, after a few more training swims.

Celebrating our 30 years anniversary

smileys2smileys3Yesterday Sananda and Sumeru gave me a nice surprise with 30 smiley balloons they had brought from home and a cake with 30 candles to celebrate our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team`s 30th English Channel Swimming anniversary. As all of them, including Sarita, had been helpers or swimmers in the EC before, so it was a nice team celebration. And we were thinking of all our many team swimmers and helpers around the world who have been involved during these 30 years, challenging their own inner and outer capacities!

Comments { 0 }

Off to Dover – acclimating and meeting Channel heroes

Vasanti and Jackie Cobell, record for longest Channel swim - Redkord für den längsten Ärmelkanalschwimm

with Jackie Cobell, one of the Channel heroes for the longest English Channel swim: it took her 28 hours 44 min. to reach France in 2010 – but she would not give up!

Arrived in Dover via Euroline bus and ferry from Dunkerque (instead of Calais, passing the fenced off refugee/migrant camps, very sad situation and constantly wondering how can we help) for a few days of acclimatizing before my tide Sept. 5 – 11. Just in time for a nice Sat. morning training swim of 4 hours and again 3,5 hours on Sunday (due to Dover Regatta we were not allowed to stay in the water longer.)

Met Channel swimmers, aspirants and all kinds of heroes on the beach as usual, including legendary Jackie Cobell, who holds the record for the longest / slowest Channel swim ever, testimony to incredible stamina, determination and endurance!

Sananda, my helper from Vienna, is only arriving on the 5th, hopefully there will be a more stable weather period for a change, the last neap tides (Aug 21-27) were basically wiped out again. My second helper just dropped out for family reasons – but then I got a phone call from Canada, an old Channel swimming admirer will use her air  miles to come over and help short notice, arriving Friday! Thanks, Sarita for your enthusiasm!

Freda Streeter - Dover Harbour Traininging (Ärmelkanalschwimm-Training)

with another Channel legend, Channel “General” and coach Freda Streeter (mother of Allison Streeter, Queen of the English Channel), who told me this may be her last year “full time” at the beach

My boat is Anastasia English Channel boat again with great pilot Eddie Spelling and his crew.

You can follow the tracker (once you know we are swimming) here: Just click the box behind “Anastasia” – the orange boat symbol. Eddie usually updates his twitter account (it is open, you do not need to sign in):

And here are some links to the weather forcasts and tides:


Update Aug. 31
Metoffice pressure chart shows a high pressure Zone slowly moving towards the Dover Strait. If it continues to move east there is a chance for some more stable calm weather (that is the zone between too bars/lines staying over the Channel for some time). Right now the forecast for 5th to 9th is too windy. This is what Sept. 3rd looks like today:

Pressure chart sept 3

Comments { 0 }

Congratulations to our team`s 1st Triple Crowner!

Abhejali swimming Catalina Channel

On August 18, 2015, after 9 hours 46 min. of swimming from Catalina Island to California mainland mostly through the night, Abhejali Bernadova (age 39) from Zlin became the first member of our international Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and the first Czech person overall to achieve the “Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming”, having swum Catalina Channel (2015), English Channel (2011) and Manhattan Island (2012). Having  crossed the Strait of Gibraltar in 2013, she also has 3 of the “Oceans Seven” swims in her pocket now. (Oceans Seven Wikipedia)

A shark protection device was attached to the escort boat


Dolphins ahead! Harita (EC relay swimmer) multi-tasking as boat butler and kajaker.

The swim was very nice, she said, with calm waters, lots of bioluminescence and even dolphins (and no shark encounters). More details to follow soon.

It may be interesting to note that Abhejali – like many of our team members – has been a vegetarian for over 20 years now and feels that her regular meditation practice not only helps in her training by increasing focus and aiding regeneration, but also keeps the “monkey mind” at bay during the swim, allowing her to experience the peace and beauty of open water swimming even more.

Finishing with the Czech flag

When she is not swimming or training for a long swim, you can see her running with the Peace Torch in various parts of the world or doing triathlons or multiday races like the 10 day race in New York.


Abhejali Bernadova


Carrying the Peace Torch in Australia 2013

Comments { 0 }

Dover Training July 2015

Dover sunrise when I arrived on the Euroline bus via ferry

Dover sunrise when I arrived on the Euroline bus via ferry

With the heat wave on the continent it was great to be in Dover for five days (11-15th) for some cold water training in the harbour – although I know from experience that within a few weeks part of the acclimatization will wear off again in the heat back home. So it will be good to come back quite a few days before my tide starts on Sept. 5th. But still it was reassuring to be able to swim 4, 6, 1.5, 3 and 2.5 hours in 16°C waters without problems, coming from 22-28°C


Glorious morning

waters and just regular cold showers. It was the last opportunity for the 6 hour qualifying swim, a week later the water in Dover would already be above 16°C. (Zurich Lake obviously does not count any more as a qualifier, since it is too warm.)

Jana (helper), Abhejali and Vasanti, after our first swims on Saturday - 7 hrs Abhejali, 4 hrs myself

Jana (helper), Abhejali and Vasanti, after our first swims on Saturday – 7 hrs Abhejali, 4 hrs myself

From the ferry in the morning dawn both shores with their blinking lights looked so close – just like a little bit more than the Zurich lake. It felt quite reassuring. But of course I know the currents, the cold and the fickle weather can be real challenges.


Sunny Sunday: Freda had a finger operation – she is sporting the nice hat Bahula gaver her after the girls relay in 2014

Abhejali had come a day earlier to prepare for her Catalina Channel swim booked for August 18th, and was happy to meet up with her sister in Dover, who lives in London and came down to assist us.

"King Kevin", Hon. Sec. of the CS&PF, helping out at the beach on Sunday

Kevin Murphy (34 Channel crossings), Hon. Sec. of the CS&PF, helping out at the beach on Sunday

It was very nice to meet again and chat with inspiring Channel swimmers from around the world – like Chloe McCardel and Shelley
Taylor-Smith – and the amazing beach crew inlcuding Freda, Irene, Barry and “King Kevin” himself, who sweetly came down to bring me my


At Varne Ridge, with Shelley Taylor-Smith and David, sharing interesting stories

crocks when I was the last swimmer to get out of the water after 6 hours on Sunday.


Meeting Chloe after her 3 solos in one week in preparation of her 3-way-attempt early August

Chloe McCardel was still in Dover after her she did her 3 solos in one week to prepare for her 3-way attempt beginning of August. We had met her and husband Paul first time back in 2009, when we were doing our 2nd Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team English Channel relay. Best of luck, Chloe!

Update: And she actually did her TRIPLE-SOLO on Aug 8-9th, 2015, in 36 hours 12 minutes: HUGE CONGRATULATIONS!

Comments { 3 }

English Channel girls relay honouring 50 years of service


To honour our teacher Sri Chinmoy’s 50 years of peace service to the world, 4 female members of our international Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team chose another English Channel self-transcendence adventure. On Sept. 17th, at 12:42 p.m. they embarked on their 16 hour 34 min. long journey to France.  With lots of inner and outer support again from around the world,  Harita from New Zealand, Abhejali (several Zurich lakes, EC relay 2009, EC solo 2010, MIMS 2012, Gibraltar Straits 2013, ), Jayalata and Ritadyumna (EC relay 2009, breaststroker) from Czech Republic and their two  enthusiastic and experienced helpers (Bahula from New York and Haribala from Zlin) were lucky to have the weather gods on their side again and enjoy a great time – before, after and even at times during the swim.


Victory! The flags are flying at Varne Ridge Caravan Park!

While a solo swim is of course much more demanding, a relay has its own challenges – like being cold and seasick (in spite of pills and patches) on the boat and maybe unable to eat or drink in between 3-4 sets of 1 hour swims and having to dive back into black and choppy cold water at night etc. But the experience of teamwork is even more special in a relay – and it can be a nice stepping stone for the next sized challenge, the solo. FinishSri Chinmoy Golden Jubilee Team at Varne RidgeThe girls were in good hands with Mike Oram on Gallivant, one of the top EC swim pilots, who has led several of our team members across already, his co-pilot James Willi and crew.

I was very happy they were able to swim during the few days I was visiting Dover, so we could swim a little in the harbour, be excited and celebrate together. It would not be surprising to see another solo develop out of this relay in the near future!

Is my
Ever-blossoming goal.

Sri Chinmoy

Here the →  link to the slide show-video on vimeo again.

Comments { 0 }

Angikar finished in Heidelberg 9/11 around noon

First of all: HUGE CONGRATULATIONS – to Angikar and the whole team!

Just a few glimpses for now – more to come.

Sept. 6: swimming on the best swim day of the year in unbelievable conditions – looks like liquid silver (click for video):




Heidelberg Castle

A very happy Angikar with the Serbian flag – and Heidelberg Castle in the back


More photos  of the swim → here





Being busy with many other things, Angikar`s training had actually been quite limited – mainly to swimming. However, his absolute faith – and the inner and outer support from friends and teammates all over the world – carried him through.  One “mantra” or idea that inspired and helped Angikar right from the beginning tremendously, was a quote by his meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy:

Peace Tree Heidelberg

Angikar with local and main helpers, finishing at the Ethnological Museum at the Gingko Peace Tree planted in 2001 with the current mayor of Heidelberg

Peace Tree Ethnological Museum Heidelberg

Two EC-Triathlons: Dover-Aachen 2010 (right), Dover-Heidelberg 2014 (left), and 4 EC solos and 3 EC relays in one photo

We are all truly unlimited,
If we only dare to try
And have faith.
Sri Chinmoy

Interestingly, to the day 29 years ago, back in 1985, after our first two team members successfully swam the English Channel, Sri Chinmoy commented:

“Yesterday`s impossibility has surrendered to today’s reality. But this reality also has to be transcended… Self-transcendence is a very special kind of perfection in the Heart of our Beloved Supreme.” – Sri Chinmoy, Sept. 11, 1985


Comments { 0 }

Angikar made it! And is on his way via Brussels and Aachen to Heidelberg

Map-FinishTeammate Angikar Sasa Djordjevic (43), first EC soloist from Serbia in 2010, just finished his 2nd English Channel swim in 18 h 41 min – faster than his 2010 solo. He is now being delivered to Calais for some well-deserved rest before he will get on his bike on Sunday morning. (See his swim route on the left.)



Otto Thaning, new EC age record at 73 (photo credit twitter Lewis Pugh)

Map-to-CalaisJust a bit earlier today a new age record was established: 73 year old heart surgeon Dr. Otto Thaning from South Africa became the eldest English Channel swimmer – breaking the old record by about 3 years in 12 hours 52 min (Otto was scheduled to swim in 2012 at age 72 but the weather did not cooperate then. It is amazing and extremely inspiring to see him come back to fulfil his dream!). The breaststroke swimmer Tony Baley with Anastasia is also heading towards Calais – but still  swimming (after 20 hours!). He finally finished after 25 h 56 min!

Victory flags are flying at Varne Ridge

Flag-Varne-Ridge2– the Serbian flag for Angikar and the South African flag for age record breaker Otto Thaning, in front of one of the rows of successful Channel swim plaques.  Such a special service by Dave and Evelyn at such a special place for Channel swimmers and aspirants – thanks so much!

Update Monday, 8th: As of Monday, Angikar has passed Brussels and covered over 1/3 of his bike route. They had some logistical problems and he took some more rest. Expected to reach Aachen tonight.

Dover-Heidelberg triathlon route Angikar 2014 - on his bike leg right now

Angikar`s planned Dover-Heidelberg Channel Triathlon route – on his bike leg right now (Sunday, Sept. 7)

Update Wednesday, 10th: He finished biking in Bingen late last night and started running at 2:30 a.m. this morning. One Serbian helper had to leave, but now a local helper from Heidelberg ist also with him. At 10:30 p.m. he still has 50 km to go. But the weather is fine and there is a beautiful full moon. Slow and steady wins the race! He will finish on Sept. 11th – the anniversary day of my first EC-triathlon attempt in 2008, when I was pulled out of the water hypothermic. And his start on Sept. 6th was the finish day of my shorter EC triathon Dover-Aachen in 2010.  Things are evolving very nicely!

He told me he is carrying the Peace Torch (previously World Harmony Torch) with him and is dedicating every stroke, pedal and step of his “Self-Transcendence Challenge” to peace and the European Peace Run 2014, which will end in the capital of his country, Serbia/Belgrade, on Oct. 7/8th.

Also, he will be able to write a book just about the challenges leading up to the start, and another one about the various challenges en route – like locking up the bikes during van-dinner, misplacing the key and calling the police etc.

Angikar and Peace Torch in 2010

Angikar and Peace Torch in 2010 at the start of his 1st EC solo


What gives life its value,
If not its inner cry
For self-transcendence?
– Sri Chinmoy

Comments { 0 }

Angikar attempting to conquer the English Channel – again – and more…


Screenshot about 2 p.m. Dover time. Below you will find the link to the tracker – the green arrow is Gallivant.

At 5 a.m. this morning (Sept. 6) Angikar, Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team member from Serbia, with pilot boat Gallivant/James Willi and helpers set off from famous Shakespeare Beach in Dover, together with an armada of other pilot boats and their solo or relay swimmers, in an attempt to conquer the English Channel a second time (his first solo was Aug. 8, 2010, in 19 h 24 min, followed by an EC relay Sept. 2010) – this time as part of a personal EC triathlon. It is the first day of the spring tides, with a bit more current, but the weather conditions are looking great.

Angikar and his helper Aryavan

Angikar and his helper Aryavan at Shakespeare beach in 2010

His goal will be Dover-Heidelberg – a long cherished dream, which might be manifested soon!  He will have a short rest in Calais, than get on his bike on Sunday and Monday for 560 km through Brussels and Aachen along the Rhine to Bingen, followed by a short rest again, and then running 3 marathons to Heidelberg. Good vibes and lots of inner support is very welcome! The whole project will take a few days. More updates to follow.

Here you can follow the tracker (the green arrow is his boat, Gallivant, if you click on the arrow and then on “latest track”, you can see the course due to the currents – the boats always try to go straight, but you get swept into a curve):

Update 7:50 p.m. Heidelberg time:

Channel is pancake flat – here a breaststroker stroking away with Anastasia:

And this is the current position of the boats in the Channel – Angikar green arrow:

Position around 7 p.m. Dover time

Comments { 0 }

Karteek and the washing machine – EC solo no 11!


Karteek’s wim track – courtesy CS & PF


At the 6-day race, N.Y., April 2014

After a few years away from the English Channel, exploring other (cheaper) open water swim adventures across Scottish lochs and firths, then back crewing for our teammate Adriano from Brazil who “conquered” the English Channel in July 2013, and completing his first 6-day footrace  in April 2014, Scottish “King of the Channel” Karteek Clarke felt ist was time again for the “real thing” this year – another EC solo. He was booked for the tide starting July 20th, but as is so often the case, there was a lot of waiting involved, weather and tides not quite cooperating the way they were supposed to, with the added challenge of having to switch his pilot last minute. Karteek finally got his chance to swim on July 30th, on a windy spring tide – and an opportunity to enter new territory, timewise!

Spring tides and wind over tide combined to make it his longest swim so far – 19 hours 01 min.  He will post a longer story soon on his blog.  Here some of his first remarks about the swim:

“I felt super strong at the beginning and it seemed it would be a fast swim, but then it was a ‘washing machine’ all the way and I could never get into a proper stroke. Also it was on a spring tide, which is probably fine if you have flat calm conditions, but it made the end hard as you can see on the map – I thought we were going into the bay of Wissant, but then I saw two huge ferries between me and the beach (which is where they go near Calais) and then Devashishu, my helper, told me we were next to Calais!  So we just made it in, I think.  It was great to do the Channel again though. Mike Oram, my boat pilot, was really great – very helpful and professional – I could not imagine a better pilot.  Maybe I needed to have the experience of knowing I can swim for 19 hours! I will write up more on my blog in a while.”

There is only one dream
That will always be perfect
In your lifetime,
And that is the dream
Of self-transcendence.
– Sri Chinmoy

Comments { 0 }