Maybe Friday – or even earlier?

Maybe Friday – or even earlier?

High pressure zone forecast - there is hope!

Back in Dover late Saturday morning. Up to Varne Ridge with my luggage and back to the harbour for just 1 hour of swimming. The sun is out – after a week or more of horrible weather. No swimmers were able to go on the last tide – and they have prepared for a year or more and come from all corners of the world. This is what Channel swimming is very much about!

Saturday night the bank relay teams went out for their wetsuit Arch to Arc relay triathlon (Marble Arch, London, to Arc de Triomphe, Paris), but it seems none of them made it. Many got seasick from the huge waves. They were still dropped in Calais to continue biking to Paris. Would I do the same if I don’t make it again, I mean, continue biking and running?

France seems to look closer than ever. Maybe due to our successful relay last year, where I was allowed to touch French sands again? And after swimming Lake Zurich only recently – France looks just that tiny bit further, and of course, the currents are a “little” stronger etc. My visualisation is more on the biking and running, strangely, as if the Channel was already done. Many times during training I had seen myself swimming safely alongside Anastasia and imagined swimming the last bit to France.

Miyuki (Japanese "Channel Queen" with 7 crossings) has been waiting also, she wants to do 2 swims this year!

Miyuki (Japanese "Channel Queen" with 7 crossings) is back, she wants to do 2 swims this year!

Woke up late on Sunday, but catching up with sleep is important now.

No swim before Wednesday at the earliest for me, basically agreed on Friday, if the weather is holding. Before Wednesday I would have no helpers for the biking and running. So a 3 hour swim without feeding on Sunday on Freda’s advice, maybe 3 hours again today, for best possible acclimatasation. Then more tapering.

Tuesday, however, now seems to be the first swimmable day now! Will we have to go earlier? Will meet my pilot around noon…

Freda, Barrie and Irene - Beach Crew with Channel General (sporting her new Zurich lake T-shirt)

Beach Crew with Channel General (Freda sporting her new Zurich lake T-shirt)

If anyone wants to come down to Dover to help on the boat on on Friday (start would be around 4/5 a.m.) – there is still room, also in the caravan!

My mobile for text messages: +49 152 26 59 30 34

MetOffice Pressure Forecast UK

Wind Map UK

Dover training 2, family birthday and back to Dover again

Fr. 13th at midnight I boarded the Euroline bus again to Dover. We arrived late on Sat. morning, and the Dover Regatta was on, with swimming only allowed until 12 p.m. on Sat and Sun – so much for a last long swim!
In spite of horrible weather forcasts it rained only occasionally, more of a drizzle, and the sun came actually out quite a lot!
So I did 2 hours on Sat (was extended to 1 p.m.), gave Freda her Zurich lake T-Shirt (she had asked for one and liked it a lot!), did 5 hours on Sunday, then 2-3 -5 from Monday to Wednesday. Wednesday night I took the bus back. 2 hours of running up to Varne Ridge and over the cliffs with big blisters at the end – my feet have become tender for not running much lately!

Celebrating my father`s 75th birthday

The weekend of 21st/22nd I went to see my parents near Nürnberg – my father was celebrating his 75th birthday and was happy and proud I was part of it (most of the guests new about his adventurous daughter and many approached me about my swimming of course).  It was a hot weekend again and getting to swim in a (crowded) pool was out of the question. To my big surprise I still got a nice swim in on Sunday – we drove for an hour to a huge lake which I had not really been aware of as so great for swimming (Großer Brombachsee). The water was nice and cool (19/20°C), clear, and the distance to the other side and back was 5 km. I got two hours in and some fooling around with my nieces. My sister had joined my parents and myself with her kids and thy used the opportunity to get a little crawl coaching.

Tomorrow at midnight I will board the bus again to Dover. The last neap tides had been horror for swimmers and pilots – wind, wind, wind – not a single swim. The forecast for next week leaves a little bit of hope: from Wednesday on the wind might calm down a little. But you never know. The weather in the Channel can change overnight.

The helpers for my van are ready to go from Wednesday on – only for the swim I have no helper yet. I am not particularly worried,  since it has happened repeatedly with friends that their helper was useless anyway (“feeding the fish” most of the time), but I will have to keep asking around.

By the way, my goal for this year, if I make it across to Calais, will only be Dover-Aachen. Distance-wise it is about the same distance as Vedika did in 1998 from Dover to Paris – the original vision that emerged back in 1985 right after the first two successful Channel swims in our team – by myself and Adhiratha. It feel good to only have a “small triathlon” ahead – room for transcendence in a few more years. Dover-Heidelberg is still in my heart – an old dream that one day will manifest, I am sure.

Angikar did it – on August 8/9th!

Angikar did it – on August 8/9th!

First Serbian to swim the Channel, probably. And solo number 40 from our international team!

Angikar and his helper Aryavan

Angikar and his helper Aryavan at Shakespeare Beach

As it turned out, Alison’s boat must have never gotten ready, in any case Angikar swam on Sunday, August 8, already on a spring tide (6.1 and 6.3 meters), into Monday with Alison’s brother Neil Streeter on Suva – finishing in 19 hours 24 (inofficial time). No shoulder problems, no sinus problems, just 30 min. of sickness – but lots of Grace, he said. He was very happy and felt it was easier than he had expected/feared. As a slow swimmer he had been prepared for 20 hours and more and felt he could still have continued if necessary.

Dori had started a tide earlier – Saturday night around 10 p.m., reached France in 10 hours 40, turned to swim back to England, but stopped after 13 hours due to shoulder problems. Conditions must have been rough during the night. Also swimming was Australian John Van Wisse attempting a triple-crossing, but he stopped after a very fast double in 19 hours 55.

Aug. 8th – Zurich Lake surprise

Aug. 8th – Zurich Lake surprise

Here the results and photo gallery:

I had hoped for an 11 hour or so training swim – but it was not to be.


Looking forward to an important training swim

I had joked with Nick Adams who had sent good wishes to all the swimmers that the Zurich Lake is only like a “big bath tub” (that was the feeling when I swam it after the Channel) – mostly pretty calm, except for the end which is more open and often quite windy and lumpy – great to power through to the finish. With scenic green and hilly shores left and right it feels quite protected – as opposed to Channel vastness and dynamics.

Zürich Lake evening magic (photo from 2007)

Zürich Lake evening magic (photo from 2007)

Not quite a bath tub

This time, however, the Lake seemed intent on showing us it was not a bathtub! After a serene and beautiful Saturday evening the early Sunday morning was still calm but cloudy, after 2 hours or so the sun came out –  like on a normal Zurich lake swim day (we had mostly been very lucky with the weather). Soon, however, the rain started – good if helpers had thought of some kind of protection, no problem for the swimmer of course. Then the wind came. Luckily from behind – otherwise rowers would be in more trouble than the swimmers. One time only the swim had to be stopped due to strong headwinds.

Leisurely Zurich Lake

Leisurely Zurich Lake (Valishta and Anete are my rowers – they also had a couple of dips in the lake)

Swimming in the waves is actually much more fun than in just flat water, at least in the Zurich lake, and even more so when the waves are pushing you. At the same time the lake had cooled off considerably – from 25°C over the last weeks down to around 19°C in the beginning – good for Channel training! Maybe it was due to the intense training weekend in Dover only a week before – but I did not feel the joy I expected, and I even felt chilly at times. I rather had to work and concentrate. Not that it was really difficult or hard, but I was waiting for the joy of swimming to come – and Meilen to appear! When we reached the halfway point at Meilen under 5 hours and the ferry after only 5 hours 20 I was happy and amazed! Was it the wind or the training and more kicking or everything combined?

Downhill with the Monkeys

Team Lisa Cummins - the Monkey Puzzlers

Team Lisa Cummins – the Monkey Puzzlers

Finally downhill, but still I kept calculating the hours and the distance in my mind, although I was trying to just  swim, enjoy and focus here and now. Some nice distraction, when Lisa Cummins (EC double 2009) and her Monkey team passed us, then our German relay team – always something to watch and exchange a few words. After only 8 hours we arrived at Küsnacht, the last “land corner” before the 4 km stretch until the finish – again, I could hardly believe it. By this time I was feeling the joy, sometimes exhilaration  – being pushed even harder now by the waves coming from behind, knowing the finish is only some 2 hours away and I could just swim as powerfully now as possible. My arms felt better now then during most of the swim so far – maybe all the accumulated acids and fatigue had gone by now. But to continue for 7 hours or more? – No, today I was definitely not yet in Channel shape! (But who knows – I only fed every hour, and good feeding makes a big difference.)

Lake magic

More lake magic

My second fastest time!

The last open patch was the best, like so often – others loathe it, because it seems endless, but if you know it and are prepared you can enjoy it. There is no “wicked French current” to drive you away from the finish – just a tiny wicked Swiss current, but everyone can cut through that, with a bit of patience. The sun came out for us again, while the slower swimmers – and crews – were up for some torrential rain alternating with the sun only a little later, just when I had made it into the warm shower! The feeling of swimming in the vastness and ploughing through the waves was swimmer’s delight, and near the finish the wind even subsided, very unusual. I was going as fast as I could – sprinting would be the wrong word -, remembering our Channel relay with Eddie on Anastasia last year, where Eddie had told me to go FAST in the 10th hour to use the tide as much as possible – and then France was so near! To finish under 10 hours now would be a dream I did not really expect to come true, 10 hours would still be fine – but when I finally touched the finish line, the clock showed 9:48 – unbelievable! Last time, in 2007, it had taken me 11 hours 20!

The over 40ies

The ladies over 40

This time we had tried to stay a little more to the center of the lake after Meilen to make use of the current and not get trapped in a counter current near the shore.  Whatever the reason was – favourable winds and currents, better training, more kicking, tactics – it was greatly motivating! My second fastest Zurich lake swimm ever out of 7 altogether! (In 1998 I did 9:39)

The icing on the cake was the delicious food afterwards (actually a good reason to swim fast!) – spicy tofu, salads, pancakes, deserts – you name it – and a long overdue extended massage, so that my arms and shoulders felt like new the next day.

Distinguished international guests, including weathered English Channel swimmers and some EC aspirants


Everyone a winner

Julie Galloway, Channel swimmer from Ireland, had finished in an amazing 6 hours 35 min. – faster than the boys. Even the wetsuit category was only 1 min 34 sec. faster! Abhejali, team member of our Channel relay 2009 from Czech Republic, finished in a very good 8:28 – with very little training and even less weight than in 2009, amazing! Bit of a British-Irish invasion again (Cork, Serpentine), with some Australians – 12 nations in all. No Indians, however – they had probably registered too late!


An inspirational message plus some British/Jersey humour on the “Cliff Hangers” relay team t-shirt

The British “Cliff’s Hangers” fun relay team with EC multi-soloists Cliff Golding and Sally Minty-Gravett plus Tracy Huish had a beautiful turquoise team T-shirt featuring a map of the Zurich lake on the back, with apt comments for every hour (like: time for a nap, time for a beer, mind the ferry, glad I am only doing a relay, beautiful swim) and one of Cliff`s favourite inspirational aphorisms – as far as I know –  at the top of the back:

“The fulness of life lies in dreaming and manifesting the impossible dreams.”
– Sri Chinmoy

Dover Training July 31st – Aug. 2nd

Dover Training July 31st – Aug. 2nd

typical Dover harbour training day

A typical Dover harbour training day (no corpses in the front - only garbage bags to protect our dry clothes) on Saturday July 31st

First training visit to Dover by Euroline overnight bus, since last year with direct connection from Heidelberg to Dover via the Channel Tunnel (which had been on fire during my swim on Sept. 11 in 2008!) Arrival Saturday around 9 a.m., quick check-in in Bluebells B&B and off to the harbour to greet Freda and the beach crew. Yellow cap for my first cold swim since May –

Happy after my first 6 hour swim in 17°C this year

Happy after first 6 hour swim in 17°C this year - on a sunny Sunday!

which went well due to

increased body fat percentage. Nicely choppy at the eastern end, so good training. Sunday 6 hour swim (no official 7 hours that day) – which was fine for me, but I still felt good at the end.

Vasanti and Dori Miller

Vasanti and Dori Miller (tapering for her 2-way attempt), Monday morning

Monday 2 hours in the morning, with Dori Miller (USA, but based in Sydney, fast solo in 2008) who was tapering for her 2-way attempt and a few other Australians, then a short break, and around 2 p.m. back into the water for another two hours after meeting up with team mates from Serbia, who were waiting to go as soon as weather – and Alison’s broken boat – would permit (later we went to the Marina to see the boat – it was an absolute mess of repair, something had burned, and it did not really look like it would be ready for the start of the tide on Monday). The last half hour of swimming was the best – into the late afternoon sun lighting up the water and into glittering waves.

Shakespeare Beach (or "Shaky"), departure for many swims, with Shakespeare Cliff in the background

Shakespeare Beach (or "Shaky"), departure for many swims, with Shakespeare Cliff in the background, Monday afternoon

Short visit to Shakespeare beach with my Channel aspirant teammate and his helper (both accomplished long distance runners, only Anigkar does not look like a runner any more, which is good for him right), followed by collecting my stuff and a going for a final Pizza with more talk about Channel swimming details, before boarding the bus at 7 p.m. back to Heidelberg.