Oioioi – I have been neglecting my blog! It is 2022 – and layout changes have messed it up. So, a new project for the winter!
November 2018 – and I was very exited to receive the new book “Go hard or go home – Faszination Ultratriathlon” (unfortunately, only in German!) by Swiss ultra-triathlete Daniel Meier and extreme sport enthusiast Iris Hadbawnik / www.sportweltverlag.de fresh from the press! There are a number of ultra-triathletes featured in the chapter “Why – Motivation”, and I happen to be one of them.
For me the book will be a great inspiration to continue and improve my training and preparation at 60+ – still pursuing my dream of an ultra-triathlon Dover to Heidelberg in the nearer future (2020?). I am happy to see how much room the mental and inner preparation is getting in the book – but no wonder, since inner determination, positive outlook, peace and inner strength are definitely needed to allow the body to enter new performance territory!
If you read German, you can order it here: https://www.sportweltverlag.de/shop/ultratriathlon/
It is an inspiring read for anyone envisioning to venture into ultra-sport territory!
My friend and team member Abhejali Bernardová from Czech Republic has just been nominated for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year by the World Open Water
Swimming Association, – a great honour to be among so many highly accomplished open water and marathon swimming legends.
You can → vote here
Here an inspiring interview about her journey to completing the Oceans Seven:
More on https://channel.srichinmoyraces.org/abhejali-nominated-2018-world-open-water-swimming-woman-year?term=3822
Vasanti with Angela Wood, UK, at the 7 a.m. start of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Swim Rapperswil-Zurich, Aug. 5, 2018
It was supposed to be a very good training swim for the English Channel, since I was booked for the tide starting Sept. 16th (to 22nd). However, the water was warm as a bath tub! (In 2010 it was a cool 19°C, which was perfect preparation for my Channel-triathlon in Sept. 2010).
When we entered the water at 7 a.m. in the morning – after a beautiful star studded outdoor night on the lido deck (with 3 shooting stars!) – it felt like a bath tub! Yet the swim was not going to be easy. We had more DNFs than usual, and, apart from the very fast swimmers, most of the swimmers were slower in the second, shorter half after Meilen – wind and waves were against us, even if the waves looked tiny on photos and video. For the first time ever I barely made it. Luckily the head organizer came up to our boat in Küsnacht, at the last cut-off, and asked how I felt and if I had any power left. I said yes, a little bit amazed, but he pointed out that I had to speed up to be able to make it within the 12 hour cutoff. I had not been aware at all that we had slowed down so much! True, for a few hours I felt my energy levels were a bit down, but it did not worry me. So I started to “sprint” – which is not really much faster than my usual speed – but it helped. Soon the yellow sunshades near the finish line came into sight, but they seemed to stay in the distance forever. The clock was ticking, and it was impossible to tell if we would make it. For the rowers it was hard to steer a straight line, and for me it was hard to sight with the waves.
with Matthias Kassner, English Channel, Catalina Channel, Gibraltar Strait and North Channel swimmer (and more) after my 11 h 58:34 finish – his swimmer unfortunately also did not make the cut-off …
So I surrendered, and just tried to stay cheerful, give my best, still take a few seconds to fuel up a few more times to keep the speed and follow the boat. I prayed to just be able to finish – never mind the time. If it should be under 12 hours I would be extremely grateful. But who knows what kind of experience was the best for me right now. Sometimes defeat can teach your more than victory, we know that. But then, even finishing over 12 hours would not really count as defeat. Anyway – although the rainbow balloons at the finish took ages to appear and come closer, I finally made it in 11 hours 58 minutes and 34 seconds – the last finisher! I was so grateful! It was like a very special blessing. True, our relay team finished after me, but since the relays started 30 minutes after the solos they were still faster.
First (and only) place woman masters bioprene (no wetsuit)
Interestingly I felt quite fine at the end. A little dizzy, but nothing overly unusual. Got a great massage just before the massage tent went down, had some food and refreshments at the amazing vegetarian buffet and then got ready for the award ceremony – with lots of Channel swimmers present. Very surprised to find I placed first for the masters women – the 2 other bioprene master ladies (= non-wetsuit) had not made the cutoffs at Meilen and Küsnacht, one neoprene woman masters swimmer set a new course record, while the second one also did not finish! Among the men, 6 did not make the cutoffs this time – a record number!
Link to → results and fotos of Zurich-Rapperswil 2018
Also here are two nice videos of 2018: → short version (8 min) and → longer version with all the swimmers
Although this swim basically went fine for me, apart from the weaker hours in the second half past Meilen, the next and last long training swim – a 7 hour swim in Dover, Sept. 1st, after a long bus ride and little sleep, gave me a hugely different, totally new experience. One that forced me to abandon my Dover-Heidelberg attempt at least for this year!
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:
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:
White 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
Yesterday 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!
Saturday: The team is complete and in good spirits (Sumeru, Sananda, Sarita, Vasanti). Then it got cold.
Change is normal at the English Channel. The last few days, and even more so the nights in Dover and Calais have been cold to icy and the water near the French coast – where it usually gets warmer – is very cold, an Indian swimmwer told us.
No swim for us on Monday, hoping for Wednesday morning, but ready even for Tuesday – or Thursday :). The high pressure Zone is here, with cold winds from the North, and it is calm in the Harbour, but beyond the separation zone the waves are still 5 foot high from the storm over the North sea. So more cold water training in the harbour, eating and resting – and crossing fingers. My three helpers are here (Sarita from Canada, Sumeru and Sananda from Austria) and we are swopping interesting stories about the early years of our team`s Channel Swimming (Sarita was pulled out after 14 hours in the Channel in 1988 for no good reason by the boat pilot, Sananda was Gyde`s helper who finished in windforce 7 with tremendous energy and determination in 1987). And also mountineering stories from Kilimandscharo, Nepal etc. A great team, lots of Inspiration, enthusiasm and fun.
Pls. help us pray for good conditions on Wednesday! This would actually be exactly the day of my swim of 1985. (Sept. 3-6 is my Dover-Aachen anniversary and Sept. 7-8 is Vijaya`s Channel anniversary)
A friendly Invasion of France. Interestingly, Sept.7th had been the day I had concentrated on – but it was not my day, too cold. And Eddie had another swimmer who had trained in cold Ireland waters and was ready for it.
Update Sept.7th: Today 12 boats are out including Eddie/Anastasia. Tomorrow may be too windy. But we are still planned for Wednesday – very good! Eddie videoed dolphins today out there.
If you look at https://twitter.com/AnastasiaSwim you will see who is swimming with Eddie and get more details. We still have to figure out who will be texting and receiving texts on the boat.
And here again the tracker. https://cspf.co.uk/tracking
Thanks for all your Support!
btw: Internet access is difficult at our Caravan park – I mostly go to a hotel down at the marina to use my notebook.
Today 5 pilot boats with swimers are out in the Channel – but it is a 7.20 m spring tide (https://cspf.co.uk/tracking). The next days will be windier again, but Monday is looking good.
XC Weather Chart for Monday. Blue means no to light winds (windforce 0-3) , basically swimmable, green is wf 4, doable for some time, but boats do not go out on a “green” day.
But then again – with the Channel you never know! Fingers crossed!
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!
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: https://cspf.co.uk/tracking. 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): https://twitter.com/anastasiaswim
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:
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.
Carrying the Peace Torch in Australia 2013
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
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
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.
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: https://dailynews.openwaterswimming.com/2015/08/chloe-mccardel-becomes-4-to-go-3.html HUGE CONGRATULATIONS!
Lewis Pugh, “human polar bear” and U.N. Patron of the Oceans, is giving a BBC interview about his recent quite terrifying swims in Antarctica in minus degree waters chased by sea lions, and about his goal to raise international awareness and encourage the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in and around the Ross Sea. He is also asking:
“As we seem to be sleepwalking into another cold war, can we use the (protection of the) waters around Antarctica and the Ross Sea as a bridge for building peace elsewhere in the world?”
During his Antarctic expedition in February/March he set a new record for the most southerly swim in history, near Cape Adare in -1.7°C waters (where salty sea water starts to freeze) and -37°C air temperature, wearing nothing than a speedo, swim cap and goggles.
Read more about his “speedo diplomacy” visiting the Kremlin, his vision of ocean conservation as a positive influence on international relations and details about his Antarctica campaign and other expeditions on → his blog and on lewispugh.com/lewis-pugh-sets-sights-on-russia/
(Fotos: Kelvin Trautman)
After the Channel Dinner in Dover on March 7th, crowds of swimmers enjoyed the Sunday morning sun and, braving chilly air and water temps, invaded the sparkling Channel waters in the harbour – lead by CS&PF President Nick Adams and King of the Channel and CS&PF Hon. Secretary Kevin Murphy.
Even the Mayor, Cllr Pamela Brivio and her husband watched and took photos. They were quite amazed at the wide smiles and glowing faces of the swimmers coming out of the freezing element, and the general joyful atmosphere of this quite international family gathering.
Enjoy some more of my pics on the CS&PF-Website: https://cspf.co.uk/article/92/swimmers-take-to-the-sea-to-clear-their-heads
I went to the CS&PF Dinner to represent our international Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and our 3 swims in 2014: two EC solos by Scottish Karteek Clarke (solo no 11) and Dover-Heidelberg English Channel-triathlete Angikar Djordjevik from Serbia (who was supposed to come but forgot to extend his visa!), plus the New Zealand-Czech “Sri Chinmoy Golden Jubilee” girls relay, who were all part of the annual honourees. Lucky Peter Hücker won the coveted guaranteed entry to the Zurich Lake Marathon Swim in 2016 in the raffle – congratulations! On Monday we met with the Mayor again, together with two British and Welsh friends to discuss to an upcoming peace project.
As a child I loved swimming and snorkling in the Adriatic sea in Croatia when we used to go there on holidays with my grandparents. After so many years, it was a very nice experience to spend the New Year’s holidays of 2014/15 on the spectacular Croation coast together with our team, including friends and a number of English Channel girls and boys from literally all over the world – New Zealand, Australia, USA, Canada, Brazil, Guatemala, Europe… Meditation, swimming (outside temps down to below freezing for a few days, water around 14°C), running along the scenic coast, Peace Run activities in Dubrovnik (UNESCO world heritage) and at the Ston Walls as part of local races, a Song of the Souls concert and lots of fun activities like a swim-run, a treasure hunt and some sightseeing made this holiday quite memorable. Apart from a few rainy and quite stormy days we were blessed with lots of sunshine and calm seas. (We were actually unable to land in windy Dubrovnik even after couple of attempts by the pilot – left and right of me people were using their sickness bags, but I felt fine and protected, surprisingly, with a handful of other teammembers on board. So we had to be diverted to Split, which resulted in a special 3 hour bus trip around midnight down along the moonlit coast to our hotel in Orasac.)
The run-swim (it was too cold to start with the swim and run in wet clothes) at the end of our stay was such great fun – people were even allowed to walk in the water just to get as many as possible to participate. The more adventurous and hardened swimmers chose the long course out to the other beach and back. For quite a few it was pure self-transcendence to get into the chilly water – but they ended up loving it!
Here a few more impressions:
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. The 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!
– Sri Chinmoy
Here the → link to the slide show-video on vimeo again.
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):
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:
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
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
Teammate 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)
Just 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
– 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.
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 at the start of his 1st EC solo
What gives life its value,
If not its inner cry
– Sri Chinmoy
Screenshot about 2 p.m. Dover time. Below you will find the link to the tracker – the green arrow is Gallivant. https://cspf.co.uk/tracking#
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 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): https://cspf.co.uk/tracking#
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:
(Note: Lewis Pugh’s “Seven Seas” is quite different from Ocean’s Seven!)
On my trips around the world I so often wondered what will happen to our oceans with increasing pollution via plastic and other garbage and reckless industrial overfishing that also destroys corals and other sealife. Beaches, seabeds and the water itself are losing their pristine beauty, the sea and its inhabitants are suffering in many ways. Before swimming Gibraltar in 2012 we watched a film about how endangered not only whales and dolphins are in the straits, but how bluefin tuna is on the verge of extinction being caught by industrial fishing boats even on their way to spawn in the mediterranean. Local fisherman are losing their livelihoods. Similar situations can be found all over the world, where catches don’t serve to feed the hungry but the well-nourished, not serving the need of people but rather their greed (Einstein). Today, to work for a peaceful world also has to include taking care of our environment and our resources – including, very importantly, the oceans, which cover over 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of the water of our blue planet.
So when environmental campaigner, UN Patron of the Oceans, North Pole and Everest swimmer Lewis Pugh got ready for his new expedition to help preserve our oceans and to highlight the need for the creation of marine protected areas, Peace Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu blessed him and told him: “You’re not a swimmer, you’re a peace campaigner.” And explained:
“When you damage the environment, you create conditions ripe for conflict. When you protect the environment, you bring peace.”
Lewis new project happening right now till the end of August is his Seven Seas Expedition – a series of long distance swims in the Mediterranean, the Adriatic Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Black Sea, the Red Sea and a final 100 km staged swim in the North Sea with the mission “to inspire people around the world to protect and preserve our oceans, and all that live in them, for a peaceful and sustainable future.”
And he is inviting everyone to GET INVOLVED – in whichever way you feel inspired. Like with the Peace Run – every little step or action counts. Each of us CAN make a difference. Because we are all connected.
On August, 28-29th, Lewis finished his last of the 7 Sea Swims:
60 km in 2 sets from South End in the North Sea up the Thames to Thames Barrier, London,UK in 8hrs and 12 minutes in 2 swims (with the incoming tide).
Here is a very deep and touching summary of his swim experiences and a call to action to protect our oceans. He says:
“I’ve experienced some things I will never forget. And seen some things I wish I could erase from my memory, but which will haunt me for the rest of my days…” continue: https://lewispugh.com/our-fight-for-a-fighting-chance/-swims
Lewis Pugh swimming an an MAP (Marine Protected Area) in the Red Sea, and in a non-protectd area during his 7 Swims in7 Seas (Photo: Kelvin Trautman)
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
– Sri Chinmoy
Great coverage for a great bunch of world elite runners on → CBS news
The 18th edition of the annual Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race of New York – called ‘The Mount Everest of ultramarathons’ by The New York Times – started on June 15th and will end on August 6. Of the 14 runners, the first ones already finished, in first place Sarvagata Ukrainsky (from Ukraine), who has run the race for the 4th time now, followed by Yuri Trostenyuk in 2nd place in his 2nd 3100 mile race. Vasu will finish in 3rd place in his 3rd race! For Pranjal Milovnik in 4th place, it is his 10th edition of the race. And for Stutisheel (Ukraine) in 5th place it will be his 8th finish. (See → result details.)
From left to right: Jayasalini Abramovskikh (RU), Sarah Barnett (AUS), Nidhruvi Zimmerman (A) – still happy after about 36 days of running over 2 marathons (50-60 miles or more) daily!
I am particularly impressed, however, by the 3 girls in the race, Sarah from Australia, Nidhruvi from Vienna, Austria, and Jayasalini from Russia – with their absolutely inspiring performances. Having done one 6-day-race myself in April 2010 I have just a small idea of what the runners have to be going through in terms of physical and mental challenges and sometimes excruciating pains – on the one hand. On the other hand, there are many transformative spiritual experiences and deep inner experiences of satisfaction, peace and even ecstasy – which will permeate the entire being and be absorbed and felt #even more for weeks and months after the race is finished. For deeper insights into the world of this mind-blowing challenge there are Utpal’s great daily posts about the race and its runners, with live interviews, photos and very knowledgeble background and inside information on → www.perfectionjourney.
Main website: www.3100.srichinmoyraces.org/main-3100
My life’s only road:
My heart’s only road:
My soul’s only road:
Sri Chinmoy, Morning blessing-call-prayers
All are safely back – after an amazing Peace Run adventure in Africa – Tanzania – Arusha.
9 of our 13 climbers took the peace torch all the way up to Uhuru Peak, 2 made it at least to Stella Point, I had to turn around after 3:15 hours climbing up the crater – but I was very happy still – and one had to stay at Kibu hut due to altitude sickness! More to follow, including tons of photos.
The weather gods were with us – mild temperatures, no wind, mostly clear sky – “because you had peace in your hearts”, one guide said – after an initial rainy day with thunderstorm at night at Mandara hut. Groups waiting to summit from Kibu hut that night were not allowed to summit – too dangerous!
More on www.peacerun.org – everything is up now! (pls. forgive the Austrian English 🙂
Nice slide show by Vaibhava: Dropbox Peace Run Africa
After swimming to Africa (Gibraltar Straits) in Oct. 2012 and some more Peace Run activites this summer in Europe (UK and Germany), it felt like the time for me to finally join Peace Run Africa, which will be converging from the north, south and central Africa in Arusha on Nov. 6th. Starting Nov. 8th, a mixed very international team will then carry the torch up Mount Kilimanjaro, hopefully all the way up to Uhuru Peak – to the highest point in Africa (5895 m)! I am sooo excited!!! Summit day will be the 12th. Support prayers welcome!
I am aware of the danger of altitude sickness, especially with a short 6 day tour (Marangu route), and we will respect any serious signs of that. However, my father did it (still a smoker at that time) when he was 3 years older than I am now, also Marangu route – so there is hope! Last night watched the DVD “Kilimanjaro – Summit of Freedom” (German, “Gipfel der Freiheit”) – very inspiring and great for some last inner and outer preparation!
I am bringing my Peace Torch from Heidelberg – so the school kids will be even more excited next time, when Africa has been added!
Another highlight or our trip was going to be our visit to Tegla Loroupe and her Peace Foundation and her to her Peace School in Kapenguria, Kenia, which we have been supporting for many years – but for several reasons, the Kenia part was cancelled for now, we will go there later. Peace Run South Africa and Ethiopia are on their way.
Here some impressions from the Peace Run/Harmony Run of the past:
More on: www.peacerun.org/fa
→ Interesting facts on Mt. Kilimanjaro
“Swimming to Africa”, i.e. swimming the Strait of Gibraltar from the southernmost tip of Europe (Tarifa, Spain) to Africa (Morocco) – 15-20 km – is not comparable to an English Channel swim, but bridging two continents has a special magic to it. And there are similar challenges: unpredictable weather, days of waiting, currents, fog, huge container ships in the shipping lanes – but nicer marine life. The success rate is higher since the swim is shorter and easier – but you never know exactly what the currents and wind will do on your day, or if you get to swim at all. (→ See the post about my own Gibraltar Straits swim Oct. 2012)
On Monday, Sept. 16th, 2013, Abhejali Bernadova from Zlin, Czech Republic, fastest swimmer in our international English Channel relay 2009, English Channel solo swimmer 2011 and Manhattan Island Finisher 2012, became the 2nd Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team member to conquer the Strait of Gibraltar – in a very good 4 hours 35 minutes. Which made her the 3rd Czech Strait woman to do so – and the fastest of them! Conditions were less than ideal, windforce 3-4 most of the way – the AGNEC certificate says windforce 4 – and on the video the waves and whitecaps of the first hours are quite impressive compared to my own swim in 2012. Luckily everyone had taken seasickness pills – so seasickness only became a problem when they went dolphin watching (again) a few days later. Sunday, when a leftover team from the week before got to swim, was still sunny and calm (the photo at the top was taken on Sunday), but on Monday, on swim day, even though only windforce 2 was predicted, the Straits showed a different face.
Not easy, but very beautiful
Abhejali was still very lucky:
1. She got to swim at all (it is not rare for swimmers to come and not get a shot at all due to the weather).
2. She had an early morning start at 8 a.m, and the current – although unfavourable at the start – was not very strong near Africa. On the way back the pilot measured the current 5 km off Tarifa – and it had become basically unswimmable!
3. Abhejali had great company: not only her helpers and of course the boat pilots, but lots of dolphins! On one video she keeps swimming without looking up for quite a while – because she was looking at the dolphins swimming only a few meters below her. When a huge container boat passed, dolphins were surfing on its big bow waves! Her helpers saw them everywhere. “I had wanted to swim with dolphins,” she said, “and it worked!”
On the website of ACNEC there is a link where you can follow the tracker of the pilot boats, Columba Uno or Columba Dos
In the first hour she only swam 2 km due to the strong currents (almost full moon), but after 2 hours she was told in 20 min. she would be half way – so she was able to pick up speed. One shoulder soon started to hurt from swimming in the waves – which she had not been able to practice in training – and pain killers did not help very much.
“It was not easy, but it was very beautiful,” Abhejali said after her swim.
What will be next?, I asked her. Catalina, Cook Straits – or any other of the 7 Oceans swims? Maybe later, she says. She would love to swim from Europe to Asia (the Bosporus – an even shorter swim). “But now I’d also love to go back to running a little”, she says – a 24 hour and 100 km champion in her country, and lover and long time co-organizer of the World Harmony/Peace Run.
→ Videos of Abhejali swimming the Strait of Gibraltar, Sept. 16, 2013
→ more Photos
→ Link to ACNEG – the organisation for Strait of Gibraltar swims (swim list is not up to date on the website!)
→ Abhejali and myself at the IMSHOF ceremony in Long Beach, California, September 2012
Huge Congratulations to Diana Nyad! Never too old to chase your dreams!
I believe in dreaming big. – Diana Nyad
5 attempts, spread out over 35 years, were needed until she finally made her dream come true and wrote history – with tremendous willpower, determination, patience, vision, faith, dedication and an absolute never-give-up-attitude! In “only” 52 hours, 54 minutes and 18.6 seconds (she expected to swim around 80 hours), supported by favourable currents and a huge team of helpers but without sleep or rest, long distance swimmer Diana Nyad conquered the approx. 103 miles (166 km) from Cuba to Florida – at age 64! Reaching Key West, Florida on Sept. 2nd 2013, around 2 p.m. local time, she became the first person to swim across the Florida Straits without a shark cage after Susie Maronie did it back in 1997 protected (and aided) by a cage.
After her 3 recent defeats in 2011 and 2012, when she was forced to stop due to life-threatening box jellyfish stings, and after 2 failed attempts by faster and younger accomplished long distance swimmers Chloe McCardel and Penny Palfrey, many thought her dream was simply impossible to realise. But Diana was determined to give it a last try and again put everything into it – body, mind, heart and soul. Plus creativity and inventiveness. And with the help of an amazing team of specialists in many fields and believers in her vision including individual sponsoring from all over the world now everything seemed to come together. Even Mother Nature seemed to send her blessings, letting her swim in an almost strait line supported by the currents, in mostly calm seas and with only one small thunderstorm during the first night. Her main problem this time was sickness – the difficulty to keep feedings down.
Her mantra: “Find a way”
Diana did not swim completely according to English Channel rules, but her use of a mask and suit to protect herself against deadly box jelly fish especially at night, allowing herself to be touched, and using a streamer to help her swim in a straight line, does not necessarily take away from her accomplishment, which included incredible amounts of solitary training hours – it rather shows her determination and creativity to find a way to reach her goal.
“I have three messages”
Barely able to speak with exhaustion and a swollen mouth after her arrival on her “Other Shore”, she still had 3 messages to offer:
- we should never ever give up;
- you are never too old to chase your dreams;
- it looks like a solitary sport but it is a team.
Holding the Peace Torch with Diana Nyad at the Global Open Water Swimming Conference on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Sept. 2012
More in many articles and videos:
- Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich, the Hemingway Marina commodore who helped organize the Cuba side of Nyad’s multiple attempts, is quoted by USA today:
“More than the athletic feat, she wants to send a message of peace, love, friendship and happiness … between the people of the United States and Cuba,” he said.
- Shortly (end of September), Diana Nyad is releasing her feature-length documentary film, The Other Shore, about her “jaw-dropping journey” to manifest her → Xtreme Dream.
“The fullness of life lies in dreaming and manifesting the impossible dreams.” – Sri Chinmoy
Also interesting to read:
End of July was extremely eventful. I went to England to join an international team for the last part of the “Great British Peace Run” from Cardiff to Ipswich, be part of the inauguration ceremony of a Peace Statue of Sri Chinmoy – the founder of the World Harmony Peace Run and of our Marathon Team – in Ipswich Chantry Park on July 28th, and to pay a short visit to Dover on the way back to Heidelberg.
From Brazil to Dover, from Dover to France
Just then, on Saturday, July 27th, Adriano Passini (32), an aviation engineer from Sao Paulo, became the first member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team Brazil to successfully swim the English Channel, in a fantastic time of 11 hours 10 min – the 44th EC swim by a member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. He was supported with tons of experience and lots of selfgiving dedication by Karteek Clarke from Scotland (“Scottish King of the Channel” with 10x EC) and his friend Ashirvad from Brazil, and expertly guided by “Gentleman-pilot” Chris Osmond on Seafarer 11, who in 2011 also safely landed our boys relay team and my friend and teammate Abhejali Bernadova (Czech Republic) on the French side.
Adriano – a vegetarian – had prepared himself very well for at least 2 years, physically, mentally and spiritually, including meditation – and even concentrated intensely on the exact swim date. And it worked! He had a daylight start and finish, a few hours of heavy rain and fog, but with the sun coming out at the end. He was very focussed and positive throughout the swim. The strong spring tide currents were no problem for him. To stay warm he may have swum extra fast. The water temperature had been a bit of a concern for him, finding no colder water than 19°C in Brazil, but he was wise to come early enough to Dover to get acclimatized in the harbour and not accept an earlier swim offer, and he was totally fine until the glorious finish in bright sunlight.
Here the link to a youtube-video of his Channel swim
Determination wins the day…
Read more: On his blog 10x EC-veteran Karteek shares a longer report from a helper`s perspective with more info about Adriano`s preparation and the swim itself.
…and sleep overtakes an exhausted helper:
Congratulations banner at Varne Ridge Caravan Park – is there a more inspiring place to stay for a Channel aspirant?
One day later at the Sri Chinmoy Peace Statue ceremony in Ipswich: the Mayor of Ipswich with 4 Channel swimmers (together 14 EC solos and 2 realys):
The swim course, courtesy CS&PF:
One of Adriano`s favourite mantras or spiritual aphorisms for a positive, impossibility-challenging attitude, which he used in preparation as well as during his swim, is by his spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy (IMSHOF honouree 2012!):
“We are all truly unlimited,
If we only dare to try
And have faith.”
– Sri Chinmoy
“The message of self-transcendence
Is itself satisfaction,
Far beyond our imagination.” – Sri Chinmoy
No equal.” – Sri Chinmoy
We also paid a nice visit to Kevin Murhpy, “King of the Channel” (34 solo crossings) and secretary of the CS&PF. He has so many amazing stories, he could fill a number of books! Never heard his story before how he got lost on the African coast when swimming the Strait of Gibraltar!
“Prepare for the worst – hope for the best.” This English Channel motto definitely also applies to swimming the Strait of Gibraltar.
It can be extremely easy – only half a Zurich lake marathon swim! – and it can be “the hardest swim of my life” (Armin Wunder).
Pat Gallant-Charette (EC in 15:57) had swum the Strait of Gibraltar at age 59 in only 3 hours 28, supported by some amazing currents as Rafael explained, whereas a fellow countryman who swam the English Channel in 11 hours 20 had to battle it out for 7 hours 30 min., due to a strong current that kept him swimming in one place for 2 hours.
When I was invited to participate in the Moroccan part of the World Harmony Run in 2008, I wondered “Why not swim from Spain (Europe) to Africa?”, and another dream was born. I soon realised, however, that it is not so easy and inexpensive as one might think, even if the distance between the two continents at the narrowest point of the Strait of Gibraltar is only 14,4 km. Just to get there by plane, train and bus (or rented car), then having to allow for the possibility of a bad weather period like at the English Channel, and even the possibility of being stopped by fog, wind picking up or erratic strong currents that can give a hard time even to fast swimmers. Boat and registration alone are 1700 €uro (for more info see ACNEC).
After reaching one of my bigger goals – the Channel-Triathlon Dover-Calais-Brussels-Aachen in 2010, “Swimming to Africa”, i.e. swimming across the Strait of Gibraltar seemed a nice smaller challenge. Still I was in doubt about my chances as a sub 3 km/h swimmer in open water. I missed the registration starting Dec. 1st, 2010, and when I was getting ready to register in Dec. 2011, I hesitated just for a few days – now only the second week of October was left (yes, they do take bookings into the second and even third week of October!)
Dedicated to the 25th Anniversary of the World Harmony Run
But it turned out to be a blessing. We experienced warm air (19-24°C), warm water (20°C most of the way, with only a few cold patches and currents nearer to Africa), quite a few calm days – and appartment prices are lower after the main season. Tarifa, where swimmers will stay to wait for their swim, is dubbed the world’s kite surfing capital and is much more peaceful now – the summer craze is over, and training swims at the endless kite surfers beach Playa los Lances, with beautiful clear water and softly rolling waves, is less dangerous.
I was happy to be able to dedicate the swim to the 25th anniversary of the World Harmony Run – and almost everyone got the opportunity to hold the World Harmony Run torch!
Booked for Oct 7-15th I arrived the night of the 4th, briefly talked to Rafael, the president of ACNEG the next morning, to meet for detailed information on Sunday evening (the 7th) , with a view to swimming on Tuesday or Wednesday the 9th or 10th around 8:30 a.m. “You are a slower swimmer,” he said, “you need the right combination of wind and currents”. Wednesday would be best with half an hour more tidal support. This sounded quite reassuring. I had come with a cold from a final 3 hour cold swim at home, feeling quite weak, and hoped to be able to get well and acclimatise in time. Albena, my helper from Edinburg, was due Saturday (6th) late at night. Shortly before she arrived, a text message from Rafael came: “If tomorrow the weather is good we’ll try to cross. I’ll inform you by morning.” O no, not this experience again! I was still sick, unprepared and uninformed about any details, and stores were closed on Sunday. I called Rafael to learn a possible start would be at 1 p.m. I realised that would force me to stop if I needed longer than 7 hours – since the sun was setting at 8 p.m. and there is no night swimming allowed in the Straits. Also wind and currents did not look too good on the internet. I sent a text message to Rafael that I wanted a fair chance. My inner voice said: no swim for me on Sunday. Even if there was mist predicted for Tuesday and fog for Wednesday morning. Luckily, there was no call on Sunday morning, so no discussion was needed. We had time for a proper briefing with everyone later in the day, more shopping on Monday, rest, food and two more training swims in the colder coastal water, before the final call came – for Tuesday.
A Magic Day
Ginger tea and Paracetamol helped me once again, and on Oct. 9th, at 8:30 a.m., I felt o.k., mas o menos. It was quite misty – and at the starting point at Tarifa island, ready to go, there was a discussion between the two pilots – Christina on Columbia 2 and Fernando on the small craft (who had swam the Straits 5 times, fast!) – for a few minutes whether it would be safe to give it a try or not. Albena obviously asked the right questions to help with the decision – according to the forecast the mist would lift soon and the sun was already visible in the East. So off we went. I had to swim towards the rocks, but the swells were powerful – so we started a few meters away.
I swam into a beautiful calm day. Soon the rays of the sun lit up the dusky water below me. Apart from the schools of fish at the rocks at the start I did not see much marine life: one single fish, one lonley jelly, and some whitish marshmallow-like things speeding under me in the currents at the end. Albena saw a few dolphins in the distance at the start and a flying fish at the end.
In the Straits, the bigger boat is always guiding you, going in front (which I like – but to be sure the boat stays so far away that it is definitely not assisting the swimmer!!!), and the smaller craft mostly stays beside you with your helper and food. Feeding in calm water is easily done by hand – we still used rope to retrieve the cup or bottle. My feeding plan was: first feed after 45 min., then 40, 35 and 30 min. intervals. Mainly 2 dl hot ginger tea or Bengal Spice tea mixed with maxim (every 30 min) plus fruit sugar (on the hour), in between an additional piece of banana, canned peach, half a tiger sweet or Chia seeds (endurance runners’ secret). We had brought loads, but hardly needed anything – just as on the Zurich lake.
After 2.5 hours I was in the “separation zone” – “what a baby channel”, I had to smile to myself. The traffic seemed not heavy at all, and from the water you even see less. Thanks to modern communication, the ships try to keep a distance of 1 km away from the swimmer. Only if a ship does not pay attention, a swimmer may be taken out of the water and put back in at the same spot once the ship has passed. It is not an advantage, but rather a disadvantage for the swimmer, says Rafael, and I am sure I would feel the same. I started to feel free now – the mind had calmed down, some inner singing started, I enjoyed the rhythm, the peace, the vastness – the beauty of long distance swims. After 3.5 hours Albena told me: only 2 km to go. I calculated: will I be able make it under 5 hours? Then I might go for the Cook Straits. But then I got a little more of my money`s worth. An unexpectedly strong current started to push me to the East, so we had to take a little detour to Africa. “If you sprint for 15 min. we can make it in 30 more minutes,” I was told. But I am not a good sprinter, although I gave it my best, doing intervals for an hour or so. Pushing hard when you pretty much know you will make it (there was hardly any question), is fun. Half an hour became an hour and half – then Marsa point was getting closer and closer. Albena later told me they wanted to land me – like many swimmers – at Perejil island, which belongs to Africa but is Spanish territory, and she protested heavily. So I had to swim a bit further, which in retrospect I am very grateful for. After 5 hours 25 min. I touched Africa at the foot of the famous Jebel Musa! Swimmer no. 373 in the solo non wetsuit category of the ACNEG annals (yes, you can do relays and use wetsuits, and you can even swim side by side as a team, up to 4 persons or so.), and the first member of the International Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. (One member of our team had tried before but never got a chance to swim.)
Back on the boat, we held the torch of the World Harmony Run together, which had been present also at the IMSHOF Ceremony in Long Beach and in my last EC swim and relay. Oceans and waterways are connecting people – an idea embodied in the torch. And one of my favourite mantras in the water, along with special songs or aphorisms, is “peace”, in the rhythm of my stroke.
I had intended to dedicate the swim also to Tegla Louroupe`s Peace Academy – but fundraising is not my thing. I was thinking of the kids during my swim – and next year, with the Harmony Run bigger in Africa, we will go there again, and we have been supporting the school and other projects for quite some time and will continue to do so.
Albena was a great helper, and she loved the whole experience, even getting into the water with me for a few strokes.
The second swimmer on my tide was less lucky. The following day was calm, but thick fog prevented any swim, after that the winds picked up. When he finally started, a strong tidal westward current around Tarifa island made the skipper change the start to the rocks east of the harbour (also more northern) – and after 3 hours he was pushed so far to the east that there was no chance of landing any more.
Conclusion: prepare for the worst, even a no-swim – and pray for a great day! And take the whole stay in Tarifa as a holiday – if the swim works, great, if not (only 10 % failure rate I am told), at least you got so see nice places (go whale and dolphin watching, visit Tanger etc.) and meet nice people, hopefully!
As a training swim for the Channel, lake Windermere or the Zurich lake may be more helpful. But “Swimming to Africa” has its own special magic. Back home in Heidelberg now, part of me and my heart is still there in Tarifa, feeling the sand under my feet, gliding through the clear and powerful water, or marvelling at the glittering lights on the African coast at night, looking ever so close from the rooftop terrace of our appartment. By the way, registration for the Zurich Lake Int. Self-Transcendence Marathon Swim just started!
For more info on Swimming the Strait of Gibraltar see the website of ACNEC.
For a foto slideshow pls. click here
And this is where we stayed, a very nice and affordable place, with a beautiful view (in the main season probably quite noisy with lots of young kite surfers): Residential Luna.
Last not least, one of my favourite “mantras”, also in training:
The goal will be all yours.”
– Sri Chinmoy
PS: Here a fascinating report about Penny Palfrey`s Gibraltar Straits 2-way swim in 2010 in much more difficult conditions – and with a Great White on the way back (I had no idea they exist there!!!)
And another report on “The Challenges of Gibraltar”
Interview in German → on Swim.de
On Oct. 9th, 2012, we made it, from Tarifa/Spain – the southernmost tip of Europe – across the 14-15 km wide Straits of Gibraltar to Marocco, Africa, in 5 hours 25, on a very calm and sunny day with only very little tide but a surprisingly strong current at the end. The morning fog luckily was not thick enough to prevent the start and soon began to lift (the next day it was much thicker and lasted for hours!). We did not see much marine life at all – Albena saw a few dolphins in the distance at the start and a flying fish at the end, I saw a school of fish at the rocks at the start, one single medium sized fish in the middle, one lone jelly and lots of little white things flowing in the current against me at the end. Overall the water was extremely beautiful, clean and quite warm – 20°C most of the way with only few spots of cold water at the end! (I had expected 18-19°C with patches of 17°C or less.)
Of course, swimming the Gibraltar Straits is special – bridging two continents right where the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean meet, where conditions can be quite unpredictable and even much faster swimmers have ended up being stopped by currents or fog or swept out far away from firm land. But reaching Africa after “only” 5 hours 25 min. in a way just felt like a longer training swim – basicall only half a Zurich lake! 2 km off the coast they had even told me we might make it under 5 hours – “only half an hour to go” if I sped up, and I had to smile – I have heard that a couple of times on my English Channel swims! The feeling of joy, calmness and peace after the swim, however, was more intense then after a regular training swim!
I touched Africa at Marsa Point – a steep rock in Morocco at the foot of Jebel Musa. They had wanted to land us at Perejil island, a little closer, but when Albena heard it belongs to Spain – and was just an island – she protested. She was sure I “really” wanted to reach Africa! So I had to swim a few meters more – which I am actually grateful for.
Thank you everyone for your support and prayers – I really felt a nice push all the way. (For the longer story click here please.)
Like with my Channel-Triathlon of 2010 and our English Channel Relay of 2009, we had the World Harmony Run torch on board again and I wanted to dedicate the swim to my teacher and inspirer Sri Chinmoy and his vision of international friendship embodied by the World Harmony Run.
For more information about Gibraltar Strait Swimming and the organisation behind it pls. visit the website of ACNEC.
Update: right now we are starting on Tue Oct. 9th, around 8:30 – if the start is prevented by fog, the next chance is Wednesday.
Here you may see the boat: https://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/de/default.aspx#
For the harbour, enter “Tarifa”, the name of the boat is Columbia 1 or 2.
Leaving for Spain on Oct. 4th, swimming hopefully between Oct. 7th and 14th, depending on the weather. Stay tuned and wish us luck!
Update: right now we are starting on Tue Oct. 9th, around 8:30 – if the start is prevented by fog, the next chance is Wednesday.
Here you may see the boat: https://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/de/default.aspx#
For the harbour, enter “Tarifa”, the name of the boat is Columbia 1 or 2.
It was a nice adventure and a great honour to be invited to the Global Open Water Swimming Conference Sept. 21st/22nd 2012 on the Queen Mary, in Long Beach, California, to accept the IMSHOF award for Sri Chinmoy, who was being honoured posthumously for his decades of inspiration and mentorship in the Open Water and Channel swimming world. I felt like a tiny fish among so many great fish (Diana Nyad, OW legend Greta Anderson, “Big River Man” Martin Strel (who was lifted by Sri Chinmoy in 2004), Penny Lee Dean, Marcos Diaz (U.N. Goodwill and Ocean Ambassador), Marcy MacDonald, Elisabeth Fry, Dr. Jane Katz (who has trained some of our team`s Channel swimmers in N.Y.), Michael Read (King of the Channel 1997-2005), Ned Denison, Peace Swimmer Nejib Belhedi and many others) – and it was extremely inspiring to meet with and listen to so many open water greats – and to speak to them about Sri Chinmoy and the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team – and introduce the new book “Sport and Meditation”.
Many guests and speakers enjoyed holding the World Harmony Torch and making a wish for peace, and the Torch was finally invited also into the group photo with all the IMSHOF honourees.
Steven Munatones, main organiser of the Conference (with co-organiser Lexie Kelly on the left and Shelley Taylor-Smith on the right), was awarded the Torch Bearer Award of the World Harmony Run for his tireless efforts in promoting the spirit of self-transcendence and international friendship, inspiring and joining so many people across the world in their various quests in the open water world.
The 3rd day of the conference was marked by the “Swim Across America” in the Marine Stadium of Long Beach with races of various distances – and around 350 participants. Training for Gibraltar, I chose the 10 k olympic distance and was quite happy to finish in 3 h 25 – more than a minute before Mike Read, King of the English Channel from 1997-2005 with 33 crossings. Abhejali did 1.5 k in 27 min 26.
We were three from our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team: myself (EC 1985 and 2010, Zurich lakes etc.), Abhejali Bernadova from Czech Republic (English Channel 2011, Manhattan Island Marathon Swim 2012, Zurich lake etc.), Bigalita Egger, L.A. (ultrarunner, several 10 day races in New York at age 70+) and Ahelee (EC solo 2001), a good friend, and we had a great time during, before and after the conference! Thank you everyone for your support – and the IMSHOF for their amazing efforts!
Just back from a few very inspiring days on the World Harmony Run Europe. I had the honour of organizing the part from Trier to Aachen, and we had beautiful meetings all along the way, including lots of children on Friday, which is always the best part: receptions by the cities (or towns) of Trier, Bitburg, Prüm, Monschau, and Roetgen, schools in Trier and Bitburg on Friday, and in Aachen on Saturday an “Interfaith/Intercultural Run” visiting the Synagogue and the Bilal Mosque, the oldest and most international one in Germany, where the Run even received a special birthday cake and banner! Sunday morning provost Msgr. Poqué welcomed us at the famous Cathedral (UNESCO World Heritage). Explaining to us about the distinguished annual Charlemagne Prize of Aachen (“Karlspreis”), he said he feels that the World Harmony Run belongs into the same category of efforts towards peace, harmony and unity in Europe, which the prize aims to honour.
Also, it felt quite special to be back at the Europe Square with the torch, where I had finished my Channel Triathlon Dover-Aachen in 2010.
Click here for reports and photos (part1), and part 2.
Quite a few newspapers carried stories in print and online.
Thank you everyone who contributed, supported and participated in this amazing project for the last 25 years!
On April 27, 1987, the first torches of the global relay called World Harmony Run now were lit in New York by UN ambassadors and Sri Chinmoy, the founder, at the U.N. Plaza. This retrospective video shows glimpses of those 25 years. I have been involved in this great project since its beginnings, and will be on the road again soon, meeting school children, city representatives, visiting mosques, synagogues and churches.
For the decade 2012 to 2022, Dr. Davidson Hepburn, President of the UNESCO General Conference, says about the World Harmony Run:
I believe that all global citizens are eagerly looking toward the next decade – 2022 and beyond – as a time of great progress and striking change.
It is imperative that we work together to build a true Oneness-World.
Among recent initiatives to strive toward this goal, the World Harmony Run is one of the most remarkable and far-reaching.
This is a link to the website with current events and to Dr. David Hepburn’s speech.
2012 started with a 3 week vacation in Nha Trang, Viet Nam – and some great opportunities for the first ocean swim training since my Channel-Triathlon in 2010.
We also used the time in Nha Trang for some World Harmony Run Activities and a video interview by Utpal and Kedar about my Channel experiences.
Brief New Year`s dip in the lake at Weinheim - warm outside, but water temp only around 7°C
Wishing everyone a happy New Year full of positive challenges, new adventures and progress, inner and outer, for ourselves and in our service to the world!
Booked to swim the Straits of Gibraltar October 2012 – my motto/mantra being “Swimming to Africa” – and started training after almost a year off from swimming.
The swim will be dedicated again to the ideals of the World Harmony Run, but also to the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation and The Last Giants – the whales in the Straits of Gibraltar and the efforts of https://www.firmm.org.
The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame has selected the honorees for the year 2012. The award presentation will take place at the 2012 Global Open Water Swimming Conference in Long Beach, California.
Sri Chinmoy, founder of the international Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, is one of the honorees
“for his considerable achievements as an administrator and mentor among long distance swimmers.” (Kevin Murphy, King of the Channel and President of the Board of Directors, IMSHoF)
The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team is known worldwide for its many athletic events, especially in the field of ultra- or endurance events, including the International Zurich Lake Self-Transcendence Marathon-Swim. In the spirit of self‑transcendence, his students have completed extraordinary feats of endurance. Members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, who have received many awards, honors and recognitions, have swum the English Channel over forty times solo, and 3 times in relays (see list).
Interestingly, all of the team members are or have been vegetarians for years at the time of their swim and used regular meditation not only as part of their training but also as an integral part of their lifestyle.
Abhejali’s finish around 22:05 European Mean Time near Cap Blanc Nez
Abhejali made it – in 14h 37 (or 38) mins! Ironically maybe even thanks to being seasick in the beginning! Out of the 14 boats that went out with relays and solos, only 5 made it I heart – some were swept parallel to the coast at the end for hours before giving up, others turned round even earlier! Short feeding stops (in the second half), consistent swim speed and a good pilot (here Chris Osmond on Seafarer 11) and crew always have to work together. In a way it may even have helped Abhejali that she was pushed a bit further northeast in the beginning, probably due to her sick stomach and more frequent or longer stops, plus they started earlier – so she stayed further East of Cap Griz Nez and did
Sea Satin and Suva are being swept off parallel to the coast – Anastasia and Pathfinder are doing well, too
not get into the stronger currents off the Cap when the tide turned again, plus she was a little closer to shore in calmer waters near Cap Blanc Nez when the others started being pushed parallel – at least that is what appeared to happen on the trackers. More of the story tomorrow.
One of the swims that sadly did not make it today (with Suva)
Here some more snapshots from the net.
Left: That happens when you cannot cut through the tidal currents, and maybe are even pushed by some wind from Southwest, and don’t have enough left mentally and/or physically to keep swimming till the tide changes again. (The record is 27 hours – so no need to give up here unless you are hypothermic, cramped, running out of maxim/water/gas or you have to catch your plane or be back at work the next day.)
Here one of today’s dramas (see above) on twitter with interesting fotos – one of the many charity swims, and donations are always welcome.
Victory and defeat are interwoven.
Do not try to separate them,
But try to go beyond them
If your heart longs for abiding peace.
– Sri Chinmoy
Love the battlefield of life,
For joy is always breathing
Secretly and openly
In both your victory and your defeat.
– Sri Chinmoy
Happy – Abhejali and her helper team on the way back to Dover
Past the Separation Zone -more than half way - geografically at 15:47 MET
Only briefly: Almost from the beginning of her swim Abhejali became seasick and could not hold anything in her stomach (the swells can be hard on your stomach even if the sea is almost flat). “What shall we do?” the helpers texted desperately. Nothing seemed to work. I texted back that Karteek (10x EC) had been seasick many times, even feeding the fish for up to 6 hours into the swim, and still made it most of the times. Vijaya always got seasick and finally made it. Abhejali fought through it and after 5 hours or so into the swim it got better.
- It`s really busy today – 13 boats with swimmers out in the Channel
They have left the Separation Zone, meaning they are more than halfway – geografically!
You never know how much longer the end will be… The sea is choppy now (text message) with constant SW winds.
13 piloting boats are out today, trying to guide their swimmes safely between tankers, ferries, pleasure crafts etc. to French shores.
Seafarer 11 off with Abhejali from Shakespeare Beach
Exactly at 6:22 Dover time (7:22 MET) on Monday, July 11th, Abhejali started her swim with Chris Osmond on Seafarer 11 – along with quite a number of other swimmers.
Tracker 4 for Seafarer 11 on ais-doverstraits.co.uk
She has tracker no 4 on https://www.ais-doverstraits.co.uk/ (if it works…)
The boats in the Channel can also be followed via: https://www.shipais.com/showship.php?map=dover&mmsi=235018589
Conditions are looking very good – many boats with swimmers are out. Fingers crossed!
Awesome swimming conditons - Photo by Nick Adams on Suva via twitter
Abhejali (center) with helper Jayalata and pilot Chris Osmond, Dover marina
Abhejali (Czech Republic) from our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team is waiting in Dover for a solo swim on Sunday or Monday (10/11th of July) – here with her helper Jayalata and boat pilot Chris Osmond. Both girls were part of our EC relay on Sept. 30, 2009 – and I am almost sure Jayalata may one day also do a solo. Abhejali did the Zurich lake last year, fast, in cold weather, and has prepared very well. Fingers crossed! (I would have loved to have an excuse to go to Dover briefly – but she has enough helpers…)
On July 20th Jatnasheel from Heidelberg is going to Dover for his solo – with Harkara from Augsburg as his helper – another future solo aspirant? Both completed our first successful EC boys relay last year (Sept. 2010). The Channel IS infectious!
Back in Brussels on May 31st ond June 1st for a few special meetings at the European Parliament, the European Council and a very special ceremony with Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the Council of Europe and chairman of the European Union and a group of young school children to celebrate the 2oth Anniversary of the Planting of the Peace Tree at the Park Leopold near the Parliament (= the 20th Anniversary of the WHR visiting the European Institutions).
Video from the President`s Office: At the 24th Anniversary of World Harmony Run.
More Fotos: Replacing the Plaque at the Peace Tree with EU President Herman van Rompuy
More inspiring international events of the World Harmony Run 2011:
Start of the 6 Day Self-Transcendence Race, April 22nd, 2011, Corona Park, Flushing Meadows, New York
Another dream fulfilled! 30 years after I started to run regularly, and with only 24 hours /148 km as my longest running distance so far (injuries always used to prevent me from going further), I finally completed my first multiday race, the 6 day Self-Transcendence Race in New York! With only a few longer runs over the last two months and too much weight due to the long rest after my Channel-triathlon last September, my goals were humble: 1. to stay happy throughout the 6 days of the race, 2. staying in the race until the end, 3. running 300 km (for my 30th anniversary as a member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and 30 years of meditation practice) and if possilbe at least 50 k/32 miles per day, and 4. to go beyond that, if possible. I am extremely grateful to have achieved all of these 4 goals (213 miles, even skipping the last lap to take photos…). The race was intended as an offering, but all the way I rather felt it was a very special gift and blessing I received.
The experience over those 6 days was absolutely amazing – definitely one of my lifetime experiences. In the beginning, the weather reminded very much of Dover: wet, windy, cold. But then we got the whole spectrum – blue skies and scorching sun, showers and torrential rain, even thunderstorms, quiet nights, magical mornings with glittering dew drops everywhere, misty evenings, blossoming trees and flowers, bird concertos, Indian drumming (when you were trying to sleep), playing children on the course, nice chats, comradeship and fun with fellow runners, feelings of elation, bliss, even ecstasy at times – and the feeling to be running on a different planet, protected and carried by a flow of cosmic energy, and yet part of the larger human family. Pains, too, of course – at the end of a set of 10 or 11 miles my feet would be hurting so much I had to take a longer rest, but while resting my legs would hurt so much I could hardly sleep and instead did lots of massaging (with olive and arnica oil and cooling horse cream) and yoga stretching, and applied cabbage bandages to my feet.
My heel only flamed up on the last day of the race – at first visualisation helped, then some advil. When the intense pain, like a stabbing knife, came back a few hours later I promised: “If this pain is going to stay with me till the end, I will never do another multiday race again.” And immediately the pain disappeared! I suppose, something inside me wants to come back.
First half of day 6 - just finished my 300 k!
Even quite early in the race I found myself thinking: next time I should get this, next time I have to do that – part of me seemed already convinced I would come back!
My next goals now are to lose considerable weight, which also means more biking, and to be able to enjoy running more, e.g. in the 12 hour race in Berlin in July. No major cold water challenges for the next 1 or 2 years, just the Zurich Lake as usual. And maybe some self-transcendence in the 6 day race 2012!
But the subject of the Cook Straits kept coming up – especially with so many helpers from New Zealand at Dipali’s table on my right (Dipali placed first for the women with 466 miles).
My longest training run before the 6 days: 31 km at the 6 hour race in Nürnberg, March 12, 2011 -
Results 6 day women
Photos from the Race by Prabhakar
My own photos
Short report by Marc Dorion on his 10 day race experience
and by Ray Krolewicz on his Self-Transcendence 6 day race, including a great poem
Found on Steven Munatones Blog DailyNewsOfOpenWaterSimming
Please don`t imitate unless you know what you are doing (and have someone with you to call the ambulance…)!
Lewis Gordon Pugh – Achieving the Impossible
Just finished reading ice swimmer and fellow Channel swimmer Lewis Gordon Pugh’s captivating book “Achieving the Impossible“, published in May 2010, and came across this extremely inspiring video speach about his Mount Everest swim for Peace, also in May 2010, which I want to share here, because it carries such an important message:
The book is a captivating documentary from his background of swimming from Robben Island to Cape Town at age 17, his pioneer swim across Lake Malawi with Otto Thaning (EC 1994), to the English Channel in 1992, his swim around Cape Agulhas in 1994 – the southernmost point of the African continent, where the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean meet – on to his multi-day staged swims around Cape Good Hope, across the 204 kms of Sognefjord in Norway in 2004 and the river Thames in 2006, crowned by his record-breaking and world-consciousness-awakening swims in the Antarctis and finally his 1 mile swim in minus 1.7 °C water at the geographic North Pole in 2007.
He has become a dedicated environmentalist trying to raise awareness about the urgent need to change our ways if we want to protect our planet – and he has shown with his swims how things that would seem impossible can be achieved with determination, dedication, the courage of the heart and a vision.
Lewis Gordon Pugh talking about his North Pole swim
Here another video where he describes his North Pole swim:
I hope Lewis will receive the Torch Bearer Award of the World Harmony Run in the near future as one of the outstanding individuals of today`s world, committed to working towards making the world a better place, and in particular towards more harmony between man and nature.
His birthday is December 5th – so happy birthday!
“Smilingly you touch
The head of impossibility.
Carefully you feel
The heart of impossibility.
Powerfully you transform
The life of impossibility
Into definite practicality.”
– Sri Chinmoy (a poem dedicated to Michael Gorbachev in 1990)
Speaking of sustainable living and a change of our ways – if more people changed to a more plant-based or even vegetarian diet, it would make a big difference for our future. (I have been a vegetarian since 1981!)
And regarding over-population, I vividly remember an answer by the Dalai Lama at the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1993. Asked about a solution, he answered with a very cute smile: “It is very simple – more people have to become monks and nuns!”
“Ocean Monk” is a great movie for any lover of the ocean. If you like it, please vote for it by Nov. 10th:
Surfing in New York, in winter….
Like Channel swimmers, these “modern monks” get deep joy and inner satisfaction from seeking out unusual challenges – combined with a spiritual way of life.
There are quite a few interesting statements in the movie also for Channel swimmers – about the inner aspects of surfing, like conquering fear, silencing the mind… – and a great combination of contrasts: spirituality and humour, winter and surfing, New York City hustle and bustle and the vastness of nature and more. Great shots, great interview, beautiful poems and music…
(“Ocean Monk” did win the 1st place for best documentary at the St. Louis International Film Festival 2010 – congratulations! More on: www.oceanmonk.com)
Boys relay route Sept. 21
On one of the best Channel swim days since July, an international 5 person Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team relay just finished, also right at Cap Griz Nez, only minutes after Anna-Carin Nordin, my recent helper on the boat, touched the rocks at the Cap (only the boys had left quite early with Chris Osmond). It is the first boys relay from our international team in 25 years – and the second that ever got inspired to do it, after the first one failed in 1985 due to seasickness, strong winds, 13°C water and night combined! Angikar, who just did a solo on August 8th, had come back to join the team – another “eternal friend” of the Channel it seems!
The day was sunny, with little wind but stronger currents and they felt “suuuper”, they texted!
More details by them later on their blog.
Just briefly – full story to come:
After my successful second Channel swim (non-wetsuit!) on Sept 3rd (16 h 50) – 25 years after my first one –
and some rest we made it from Calais via Brussels to Aachen (arrived Monday, 6th, afternoon) – about 300 km or more biking (some detours) and 2 marathons and are safe and happy back home in Heidelberg. It was easier than expected (or feared) but took a bit longer for several reasons. A great event, though, and a great training experience for the final big one before my 60th birthday, hopefully!
Here some impressions:
with Mareike at Oye-Plage past Calais on the way to Gravelines
Hondschoote near the Belgian border
at the Peace Tree in the Leopolds Park at the European Parliament in Brussels
Start of the 85 run behind Tienen, 60 km behind Brussels, after about 3 hours of rest
First marathon done! I cannot believe how easy it feels!
Run-walking into Vaals
End of Vaals Netherlands - beginning of Germany!
I had not intended to carry the World Harmony Run torch all the way through the city to the Europe Square (Europaplatz), but my friends made me
"Dead" between the "WELCOME" flowers at Europaplatz
The last leg: driving back to Heidelberg
Collateral damage (without the blisters the whole thing would have felt unreal - too easy, no other pain at all!)
Many thanks are also going to my friends at the WAVES Restaurant in Heidelberg for their superb vegetarian food, and to Europcar Heidelberg, Mr. Plitzko, wo was extremely helpful again in providing us with a support van.
‘The fullness of life lies in dreaming and manifesting the impossible dreams.” – Sri Chinmoy
Fotos of the swim
Link to all reports of September 2010
THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR ALL YOUR GOOD WISHES, ENCOURAGEMENT, PRAYERS AND CONGRATULATIONS!
Approaching Cap Griz Nez
We made it in 16 hours 50 min 58 min – thanks to Eddie, my amazing pilot and crew and Ann-Carin, super-enthusiastic, competent and positive helper!
Landed right on the Cap in the dark, felt like sacred Channel swimmers ground! Was not sure till the last half hour whether currents would not have us do a couple of more hours and whether I would be able to make it qt all. But I felt strong till the end, the water was almost warm towards France, and air temps were up during the day and even the early night in France was balmy (last nigh had been freezing I believe).
Now hot bath, some sleep and on….
Here some more photos of the big day – the weather gods were definitely with us!: Photo-Gallery (you can choose slide show mode on the left)
Rising morning sun
Into the first shipping lane -from the water I actually did not see that many ships
- France visible in the back!
Getting closer by the hour – but will we make it?
The German flag is flying at the Ridge – yeah! Thanks Evelyn and Dave!
Start just changed: 3 a.m. on the boat, 3:30 off.
The tracker of our boat is No 3, Anastasia, where you can follow our route on Friday, start 4:30 a.m. Dover time (5:30 continental)
Right now I am fighting a slight fever from a very cold caravan night with Aspirin, ginger tea, Vit. C and rest. Hoping to get fit again in time. Prayers welcome!
We decided the van for the biking will only leave Heidelberg IF and When I have touched French ground.
“Do the best you can, cheerfully, accept the worst calmly ….” (by Sri Chinmoy)
“Be courageous, be determined, be self-giving – the goal will be yours!” (inofficial quote by Sri Chinmoy)
France so close
Finally the weather has calmed down. Since Monday there has been one successful swim after the other. The mornings are glorious up here at the Ridge, and at night France is glittering in the distance under a star-strewn clear sky. The flags are flying again at the Ridge, after a long time of horrible weather (hoisted for every successful swimmer staying here).
We are leaving Friday morning for sure. France is waiting! Mentally I am already on the bike and run. (Even if I did not make the swim I decided to continue this time, if only for training reasons.) But everythings is looking great, the water is at it’s warmest now and the sun should be out during the day. Nights are chilly, but then we will start around 4:30 a.m. Dover time, swim mainly during the day and hopefully land in the evening – and the water will feel only warmer for it.
One great last minute helper has emerged – a fast Swedish swimmer who will swim in 3 weeks’ time and is eager to get some experience on the boat and may even want to join me in the water for some time (she could pace a me a bit towards the end). The helpers I had hoped for had to cancel unfortunately.
Flags are flying at the Ridge again - foto session with one of the swimmers
So down to last minute preparations, bit of shopping, lots of rest, good food and tapering. Enjoyable simple life. But I am eager to finally get it done and then move on to something else!!!
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) 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…
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
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.
First Serbian to swim the Channel, probably. And solo number 40 from our international team!
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.
Here the results and photo gallery:
I had hoped for an 11 hour or so training swim – but it was not to be.
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)
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 (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
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.)
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 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
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
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 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 (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, 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.
Jackie Cobell world record swim EC Solo in 28 hours 44 min., here with Freda Streeter (mother of Alison, Queen of the Channel, and legendary EC swimmers’ coach) – map courtesy of ZimHippo
Saturday morning, July 24th, around 7:30 continental time, a swim started on Shakespeare beach that was to hold swimmers all over the world in its grip for over a day: 56 year old Jackie Cobell from London set off with Lance Oram (Sea Satin) and crew for France. It was the end of the neap tides (6 m and 6.2 m), with SW and SSW winds up to 14 knots according to Sandette Light ship. Like so often with slower swimmers, the swim started 1-2 hours before high tide, so the route looks unusual right from the beginning. 13 hours or so later Jackie reached the middle of the separation zone – half way geographically, while the average time for this year’s Channel swims (including relays) so far has been 13 hours 54 min. (last year: 13 hours 15 min)! Even at the next change of tides (after 6+ hours) she was still far from France – many would have given up by now.
Through the night
There was hope she would be able to make it on the next tide – and many of us woke up in the middle of the night around 3 or 4 a.m. to check the AIS-tracking to see if she was still hanging in there – and she was! They were nearing the sandbanks east of Calais, but then the tide carried her back west towards Cap Griz Nez and Calais again.
When I got up Sunday morning and checked the internet first thing she was still swimming! When I finally left at 9:30 a.m. for my “long swim” in the Silbersee (only 6 hours, I was so late!) she was still swimming! While I was at the lake I had a good feeling about her. Still, when I came home in the evening and checked the net, I was anxious: did she finish? SHE DID! She finished around Sunday noon – after 28 hours 44 min. (inofficial) in 15-16 degree water and similar air temperatures through the night and morning! Apparently without ever complaining or thinking of giving up! At the end, when she could almost touch the ferries going out of Calais harbour, it still took her 2 more hours to touch the sandy beach west of Calais harbour at 12:13.
See the > BBC video and interview
> Daily Telegraph article > Daily Mail
Kevin Murphy, King of the Channel (34 crossings) wrote to her on our Channel Chat group:
Your courage and determination are an inspiration to us all, during the swim itself and during the years you have spent training in Dover.
When the going gets tough; when the demons threaten our will to keep putting one arm in front of the other; we just have to remember – Jackie did it and achieved the dream.
I confess that when I first met you I had my doubts. I should have known better.
More than most, I have a fair idea what you went through and I add my voice to those from around the world who salute you.
Your swim will be remembered in the annals of Channel swimming as a true epic.
Only a few days before Australian marathon champion Chloe McCardel (25) had done her successful double crossing in only 21 hours 48 min. (after not being able to finish the second leg last year) – the beauty of determination and speed and the beauty of determination and persistance!
The last few days were a perfect illustration for one of my favourite aphorisms by my late teacher Sri Chinmoy, which explains in a few simple words the value of such “otherworldly” achievements:
“Individual self-transcendence collectively inspires humanity at large.” – Sri Chinmoy
Also very true but not at all easy:
“It does not matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
Silbersee morning magic
Time is flying – and my training is considerably less than in 2008. First weeks of June a few 3 hour swims in Roxheim (Silbersee) when weather and time permitted, but the water had warmed up too much already. Sat., June 26, my first 4 hour open water swim,
Swan family in the Silbersee nature reserve
followed by a 1:20 hour dip on Sunday 27th on the way to Zurich with Indu at stopover at Titisee, while Germany was playing
England in the World Championship, and a 5 hour swim in Lake Zurich on Monday (= 31 km weekend). I had hoped for cold water in Zurich, and even in Titisee, since Friday the water temp was still around 15°C, but by Sunday/Monday water temperatures had gone up to 21-22°C or even more. The Sahara summer over Europe had started.
Titisee dip, Black Forest, and 5 hours Zurich lake
Lake Titi, Black Forrest
Titisee is a small very pitturesque lake in the Black Forest, with extremely dark water due to the tannin from the pine trees. We rented a pedal boat so Indu could accompany me (she took a dip in the end). The further we went to the other shore, the warmer the water became. When I stuck my head out of the water at the opposite shore, I saw a few campers and asked about the soccer score. When we started out, it had been 2:1 (the second goal for England was not counted), and now – 4:1 for Germany – incredible, after their performance against Serbia! If they can do that, maybe the Channel will also work this time!
Zurich Lake training
After a nice evening meal overlooking the lake at Alemannenhof we continued to Zurich, where I did my 5 hours on Monday from the lido to Saffa Island and back, just by myself, with a few short breaks in between. It was a very nice familiar feeling to be back at the Zurich lake after such a long time, and enjoy the vastness of the lake and the view to the mountains. It is pretty safe to swim up and down for 1500m along the southern shoreline, where you can even see the sandy ground or the water plants in the clear water. In the evening I had my first major sunburn – but was very happy. Looking forward to the big Zurich Lake swim on Aug. 8th. Which will be the next big training step for Dover.
From then on my cold water training was restricted to the little “Kneipp” basin with 11°C water next to the outdoor pool in Bammental.
Sunny long swim
3+7 hour lake swims July 17/18 (=30 km), 1+6 hours July 24/25th, both in Roxheim – heavily distracted by following Chloe`s successful double and Jackie Cobell`s incredible 28 hour solo via the AIS trackers.
I had hoped to do more long swims in bigger and colder lakes – but with water temps too warm everywhere there is no reason to spend lots of time and money travelling – except to Dover.
Slight change of plans?
Since my running and biking is quite reduced due to time restrictions, and finances are a factor, too, I am thinking of shortening the triathlon distance a little for this year, back to the original idea – and leave room for more later.
Dover training: booked a Euroline bus ticket to Dover for next weekend Fr to Monday to start serious cold water training. Really looking forward to it, and then Zurich lake the weekend after!
Some weekends in June left little room for swimming – such as the weekend of June 13th/14th (where Germany won 4:0 against Australia!), where I was in charge of the World Harmony Run route between Bingen and Trier.
One of my favourite projects, to which I am also dedicating my swimming and triathlon, this year in support of UNESCO and the International Year of the Rapprochement of Cultures.
Sister Christophora, running from the monastery of St. Hildegard of Bingen to the Germania
We had a very inspiring meeting with the nuns of the famous monastery of St. Hildegard of Bingen, where the artist nun ran with our team and carried the torch to the Germania monument (Niederwalddenkmal), while I was walking the distance with a 86 year old nun, who was told by a doctor 6 years ago that she will have to be in a wheelchair soon. So now she has two new and very effective doctors, she says: her left leg and her right leg. Here she is – beaming (her name, sister Candida, means the one radiant with light):
Sister Candida, monastery of St. Hildegard of Bingen, with the UNESCO-emblem in the back
In the evening we stayed in sponsored hotel rooms overlooking Bad Kreuznach and watched an amazing soccer play. Next day we met over 700 school kids in 4 schools along the route to Trier (city of lots of UNESCO sites) and Luxemburg.
The final lap - 70,5 km
The 24 hour race in Basel on May 8/9th was a good occasion for a longer training run. Since the course is a loop there is constant support – psychological as well as material – in the form of food, drinks, medical, massage, cheering – and places to nap. Plus the surroundings are great – lush green everywhere. My goal was just to do 80 km, enjoy some breaks and massage stops, and then see. With my present Channel swimmer weight I just want to be able to survive the run part of the Channel triathlon.
Taking the train to Basel I started two hours late and was happy to avoid the midday heat. It was hot enough in the afternoon, and I was really slow with my cardiovascular system giving me a bit of trouble like usual. Around 11 p.m. it started to rain, heavily.
With only one pair of running shoes with me I decided to take a nap for 2 or three hours. When I woke up it was still raining – so I slept until 4 a.m. I had not even completed 40 km at that time and knew 80 km would be out of the question. So I decided to at least go for 60 – slow and steady. With the Heidelberg halfmarathon only 2 weeks ago plus a couple of 1-2 hour training runs since middle of April I felt it would equal 80 km.
Happy helpers (medical and massage)
The massage and medical tent saw me three times – and they really helped me recover from the half marathon. At the end of the race, even though temperatures went up to 24°C again towards Sunday noon, I felt better than at the start – legwise and cardiovascular. With no reason to stop at 60 km I continued – also to please my counters and ended up with 70.5 km. My doctor-friend had done a great job with some homeopathic pills (tuja), alignment of the spine etc. Also the next days I was amazed at the feeling of lightness in my legs. I always say I am a diesel engine – I am not fast, but I feel longer distances are like cleansing for the body and mind/soul, and I actually need them to be myself.
At times I was run-walking with other participants, engaging in friendly conversation. One lap-partner was 72 years old (looking around 60). He gently advised me, from his own experience, how to be able to run faster: “Loosing some weight really helps”, he said compassionately. At 60 his blood pressure had been up to 260, his weight over 100 kg and his doctor had told him either to change is lifestyle or be prepared to hit the grave soon. So he quit smoking and drinking, became a vegetarian and started running. After each ultra he promises himself not to do another one again – but never sticks to this resolution for long. He only did 72 km this due to a very painful heelspur.
Runners, walkers and ultra-music group (in the tent)
But the performances of the “elderly” generation were just amazing at the race. The overall winner at age 50 completed 238 km, the winner for over 60 did 181 km, the one for over 70 (born 1938) did 166 km – amazing. The female winner of my age category did 167, 8 km (my Basel best: 148)! Way to go when I am getting older and will have lost some weight again!
More Basel photos by Bijoy
Saturday May 1st: swimming in the rain
Magic Sunday morning in Weinheim
For each swim lap from the little "beach" to the main beach, Indu ran a lap around the lake on Sunday
The first real open water swims this year on the weekend of May 1st and 2nd in 16°C, then 15°C water – just an hour each due to other commitments, with the usual rain the first day and a glimpse of sunshine the next. So nice to swim in clean, cold open water, finally!
The swims created quite a sensation with the local early morning walkers looking at me getting in or coming out full of disbelief mixed with admiration, shuddering at the thought of how cold the water must feel.
If I had a car I would definitely go there more often, but biking in the rain and cold after swimming feels too dangerous – I have to stay healthy!
I had hoped to do 5 hours in a cold outdoor pool beginning May, but the pool in Mannheim is heated this year and the cold Heidelberg pool mostly closed due to the bad weather. So I was looking forward to the Pentecost weekend at the Mondsee (moon lake) in Austria, with plenty of other lakes around.
Mondsee, Austria, May 22-24th
However, with the cold weather persisting, on the Pentecost weekend in Austria I only managed to do shorter swims again – a 30 min. dip Saturday evening after we arrived,
Cuddled up to stay warm before getting into the 12°C water of the Mondsee a bit more than half way on the way back of our boat trip
40 min. Sunday morning before breakfast, 1 hour 30 min (4-5 km) in the afternoon at the end of a beautiful, at times rainy trip with an electrical boat across the whole 10 k wide lake, and another early morning swim by myself of 1 hour 15 or so Monday morning before leaving for home. Two teammates booked for a relay in September were also testing the cold water – and I was relieved when they confirmed the water was not 15°C like the boat rental had measured close to the shore, but more like 12°C. (Swim photos are still in Inessa`s mobile.) I had hoped to be able to swim at least across the lake once for training – but that was out of the question at this temperature for me.
The longest May swim was only three hours (9 km) on the 29th – in 21°C pool water, mostly in the sun, and almost by myself! I stopped when I started to feel weak, luckily, for I had gotten quite a sunburn and was close to a sunstroke, as I realised a little later. When the sun does come out it is quite fierce, and it was the first sunny swim day. June 3rd is a holiday, hoping for a longer swim then.
Only a halfmarathon – but no walk in the park. I had hoped the rather cold weather would last one day longer – but no, right on halfmarathon Sunday (April 25th) the sun started blazing and temperatures started to go up right from the morning (over 20 °C around noon).
No reason to stop
And maybe it was not such a good idea to run almost the whole route 10 days before (into a cool evening) and two times 10 k over the next few days plus some biking. Plus too much coffee (acidity). So on half marathon day my legs felt like lead most of the time and with my body weight and the heat I was run-walking at an ultra-marathon pace, happy just to finish within the cut off under 3 hours (last year: 2:31). I had even played with the thought of only doing part of the half marathon and stop at my place at km 14, and run the last third by myself in the evening. But I was taking it easy and chatting to some other runners at the back of the pack every now and then – and there was no good reason to stop. People were just so nice – encouraging, cheering, offering food, water etc. even outside the aid stations – how could you drop out? I always love this feeling of togetherness in events like these. You don`t just run by yourself. You always run “together”.
Live saving showers
I had to walk more than usual, though, and took the time to get myself completely drenched by a couple of cold showers offered by people with their garden hoses, one on Philosophenweg and another one up on Schloss Wolfsbrunnenweg a mile or so before the Castle. They really helped me survive. Near the finish, a helper started to pace me on his bike, telling me we would make the cut off of 3 hours. I had not paid any attention to time, but was actually positively surprised. I finished just behind a 70 year old runner who I had overtaken when he had gotten cramps, but he outsprinted me in the end (my net time was still faster than his, however…).
Swimming definitely is easier….
At the same time, the 6 and 10 day Self-Transcendence Race in New York was still going on (this year the weather was extremely hard for the runners over there). Still I would really love to have the experience of a multi-day race one day. Longer distances have a totally different quality, but with running my physical was always too limited. That is why the Channel tempted me, 25 years ago. And now again. Who knows, maybe in a couple of years? My next humble goal is 80 km (my running distance for September) in Basel on May 8/9.
Spring has arrived in Heidelberg!
Finally – spring has arrived in Heidelberg! The heated outdoor pool opened on Easter Sunday April 4th with a chocolote Easter bunny gift for every swimmer. 26-27°C – but still so nice to be really swimming outdoors! And biking is getting fun again!
The Heidelberg halfmarathon is coming up on April 25th and the 12/24 hours of Basel on Mai 8./9th. For me all running is weight-training right now – I have moved above 90 kg, but want to lose a few kilos soon, after all I am only going to swim the Channel, not the Atlantic. I skipped the 6 hour race in Nürnberg this year – they were desperate for helpers and I was undertrained and overweight, so I was happy to help counting, took fotos and cheered the runners on – nice change of perspective and more entertaining for a change than being out there for 6 hours by yourself. We were not sure whether the cold and wind were harder on the runners or on the sedentary counters.
Sorry for being so much behind.
I am definitely booked with Eddie for the tide August 30th to Sept. 6th or so, paid my first deposit for staying at Varne Ridge – and am getting back into more serious swimming again after my 12 hour swim in Zürich (indoors!) on Febr. 28th.
12 hour swim Zurich
Zurich was a very nice experience again. Because of overbooking, some swimmers graciously swam already on Saturday – in a narrow crowded lane with breaststrokers, which luckily was widened after my Channel sister Vedika (5x EC including one Channel triathlon Dover-Paris) was about to quit if conditions were not changed.
A well-earned massage for Vedika
Sunday was crowded again, but I was lucky to be in the wider 1st lane. I went with no expectations, except to swim at least 25 km in honour of the 25th Channel anniversary of our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, and I was very happy when I ended up with 27,2 km with some sprinting in the end – the same distance I had done in 2008, quite lighter then and 2 years younger.
Although I had swum 5 days a week for a couple of weeks previously, I had only done 2 x one hour or more – otherwise only 30-40 minutes in the much too warm indoor water.
The Czech Team: Jayalata, Blanka, Miloslava, Abhejali (they did 32,8 km)
Nice surprise was to meet some good friends: Vedika on Saturday, on Sunday Prafulla (EC 1987, EC relay 1989), the initiator of the Zürich lake marathon swim (after she failed in her first attempt to swim the English Channel in 1986 she did a double of the Zurich lake which inspired her to organise the Zurich lake marathon swim from Rapperswil). Also Abhejali and Jayalata, relay swimmer and helper from our English Channel relay swim last year, they had travelled all the way from Zlin (13 hours!) with two friends to swim a relay again. Which made me feel a little like out there in the Channel with friends, heading towards France again.
mit Marghit Bohnhoff (center)
Margit Bonhoff from Berlin, successful EC in 2007 (11 h 40),who I had met in Dover 2 years ago, also participated, but was put off by the crowded lanes. Still she managed to place first for us “seniorladies” and looked quite happy at the end.
I used to take a P-break after an hour or so, soon combining it with a cold shower (felt like sweating in the water). After 6 hours I got some lunch and my massage break – the main reason for coming 🙂 , and the final downhill part was amazingly easy, with sprints towards the end to get in as many km as still possible – with basically everyone picking up their speed again.
Feeding was simple: lots of apple juice with maltodextrin, cold herb tea with a bit of fruit sugar and vit. C powder, some bananas, a few raisins, porridge, salty veggie broth, a few potatoes with tamari and lots of fruit sugar towards the end. And some Chi (an alkalising combucha drink – Vedika´s staple).
More photos and results
A highly recommended read not only for swimming afficionados! This fascinating and deeply inspiring book by Glenn Stout, published only recently in July 2009, was given to me by a friend visiting Heidelberg this month. I swallowed it within a few days. It is an extremely lively, detailed and gripping account of how Gertrude Ederle, of German (Swabonian) descent, but born in the U.S., became the first woman to swim the English Channel in 1926 – and thus paving the way for a new role and recognition of women not only in sports but also in society.
As opposed to today, most of the attempts at that time and also her successful swim started from Cap Griz Nez, France, the closest point to England. On her successful swim on Aug. 6, 1926, a new route was tried out, which allowed her to start from a sandy beach in the calmer sheltered waters a little west of the Cap. Her previous attempt the year before had failed because her trainer Jabez Wolfe had terminated her swim by sending another swimmer in to touch and thus disqualify her after nine hours in quite difficult conditions. But there were even rumours of deliberate food poisoning.
This time again, the boat pilot wanted to terminate the swim when things were getting critical. The boat, pushed by the tides, was getting dangerously close to the Goodwin Sands east of Dover and Deal, where the boat could have stranded. Finally, however, Trudy’s father, who was on the boat and knew Trudy was doing fine, was able to convince the pilot to change course to avoid the Goodwin Sands. For Trudy this meant swimming against a very strong tide for quite some time. But she was confident, determined and steadily moving forward – finally landing in Kingsdown between Deal and Dover at 9:40 p.m. at night in an amazing 14 hours 31 (or 39?) min! Not only did she become the first woman to conquer the English Channel, but she even beat the men’s record by two hours!
Back in New York she was received like a star – but 2 of her records did not stand for long. She had opened new doors – and soon others were to follow: only 3 weeks later the next woman, Millie Clemington-Corson, succeeded, and three more men were to do it by September 1926 – each one faster than Trudy, but definitely helped by her achievement. For Trudy also pioneered a more efficient and faster swimming stroke than was common at the time – the front crawl. Breaststroke and the “trudgeon” had been the prevalent strokes of those days.
Gertrude’s female record, however, was only bettered in 1950 by Florence Chadwick, another swimming legend and 4x Channel swimmer, who made it from France to Dover in only 13:23 and became the first woman to swim the Channel from Dover to France in 1951.
Catching snowballs in the Neckar, Jan. 31st 2010
4th body of open water this year – the Neckar (my goal: 25). No 5 – without fotos – my 3 min. ice dip in the Waidsee in Weinheim beginning of Febr. – there was hardly any free spot to get into the water – basically the whole lake was frozen over.
More winter swimming
After endless days of pouring rain, finally the sun came out on Jan. 1st in the morning, when we drove down to Lindau on Lake Constance from Lindenberg, where we had celebrated New Year’s Eve. I was determined to get back into cold water on Jan. 1st – and the weather gods seemed to cooperate! With Indu as our driver, observer and lifeguard, Frederike (a long distance runner and cold water lover, hardened by winter swims in Lake Geneva) greeted the New Year with a great swim in 5°C waters of Lake Constance. After 12 min. I emerged elated – and red as a lobster. (photos to follow)
Zurich lake dip
After another extensive and delicious lunch I accepted Indu’s invitation to a short trip to her “office” in Zurich, where we spent a comfi evening with 2 inspiring DVDs (”The Peaceful Warrior” and “Hero”).
Zurich Lake with Swan and Ice swimmer Jan. 2nd, 2010
Next morning, after a short 20 min. run, we went for a second New Year’s plunge in the Zurich lake (we forgot our watches – maybe 7 min. in 4°C with cold winds) – with snow-powdered Uetliberg in the distance.
Winter magic at the lake of Einsiedeln
After a hot bath and some breakfast we collected Indu’s mother and sister and drove off to the winter magic of Einsiedeln, about 40 min. driving distance from Zurich. Einsiedeln means hermitage and is the site of a world-famous Benedictine monastery and a small but exquisitely beautiful lake. SNOW, finally! The weather was gloomy at first, but it was magic anyway. However, after an hour or so the sky cleared and the sun came out and created an unbelievable winter fairytale landscape. After a leisurely walk/run along the lake and some hot soup in a little hut we visited the amazing baroque abbey church (no photos inside!) in Einsiedeln – one of the sacred places in the world, stood in the “power circle” in the church center and meditated briefly in front of the “black Madonna“.
Short dip in the winter magic of Einsiedeln, Jan. 2nd 2010
Just a short dip
The culmination of the little trip – at least for me – was a quick dip in the partly frozen-over lake, after finding a gap in the fence surrounding the lido. I would have loved to stay longer, but we wanted to get back to Heidelberg for a special meditation in the evening.
Still an absolutely great start into the New Year – with three times more cold swims than last year!
Enjoy the slide show.
Great news: First place with Eddie
To top everything off: I am now first place with Eddie on the tide starting Aug. 30th! (Apart from the Arc to Arc triathlon relay competition with different teams on that tide which would have priority.) Will this be my Dover-Heidelberg year, finally?
Link to some more serious winter swimming in China – which brings up memories of our winter ocean swimming in Dec. 2004 in Qingdao in subzero outside temperature, after watching local Chinese going for ice swims every day early in the morning. (And only a few days later the Tsunami happened – experiences of beauty and tragedy so close together, what a strange Lila, this life here on earth …)
Vijaya receiving the Gertrude Ederle award (photo Dover UK)
On Dec. 23rd we received the sad news that Vijaya Catherine Claxton had left this earth.
She was a respected member of the International Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team who made it across the English Channel from Dover to France the hard way on Sept. 8, 2007, in 22 hours 27 min., after three heroic attempts in the years before. Vijaya, who held a responsible position at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, became the oldest US lady to swim the Channel at age 59, and in March 2008 received the prestigious Gertrude-Ederle-Award for the most meritorious CS&PF English Channel swim by a woman in 2007.
“Vijaya was a bubbly person known to a lot of us in the Channel swimming world. She came into our lives determined to swim the Channel and did it on her fourth attempt with Eddie in 2008. Her first three attempts were with me. All were long swims, all were great advances on the previous swim. All were very happy swims with a great support team of girls who enjoyed life to the full. Vijaya, complete with her smile and her willingness to help all around her will be sadly missed by the people who knew her. Those who did not know her missed out on one of the little pleasures of life.” – Mike Oram, pilot and Hon. Secretary of the CS&PF, and Angela Oram, Assistant Hon. Secretary of the CS&PF
Vijaya after her successful swim Sept 2007 with Alison Streeter, Queen of the Channel (43 crossings) and "King" Kevin (photo by Cliff Golding)
“I happened to be on the jetty when Vijaya came off the boat after her Channel swim and I recall being immensely impressed by how cheerful and energetic she was. She wasn’t fast but she had enormous determination. It was a long and therefore a tough swim – but you never would have known it. She was an inspiration.” – Kevin Murphy, “King of the Channel” (34 crossings)
“I remember Vijaya swimming in the Dover harbor, always having a smile on her face, no matter how long she was in the water. The love she had for the water and our sport will be missed.” – Marcy McDonald, Connecticut
“She was truly an inspiration. Vijaya taught me so much and I am a better person for having known her.” – Anne Cleveland
More: www.thewaterisopen.com, on my old blog, on Sri Chinmoy Races and on Open Water Swimmig.eu and Dover UK.
“You don’t have a Soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” – C. S. Lewis
“Death has no access
To the soul.
It only has access
To our weak and fragile body.” – Sri Chinmoy
“Death is at once
The end of the body’s
And the beginning of the soul’s
New journey.” – Sri Chinmoy
While acclimatising for our relay in Dover this year we met Dan (Daniel Martin), whose bike-odyssey from Corea to Cape Town I had already admired on the internet https://www.koreatocapetown.co.uk/.
Dan has a new project – a global triathlon – again with the aim of helping children in need all over the world. He will start on May 8th in New York, swimming in 8 hour/day sessions across the Atlantic to Brest (covering every meter thanks to GPS), from Brest he will bike across Europe and Siberia, cross the frozen Bering Strait and run from Alaska to finish with the New York marathon in Nov. 2011.
This project sounds impossible, but Dan is a great, humble guy and I am confident he will do it. I am sure he will be grateful for any support – during his journey and for his charity.
The Global Triathlon from Daniel Martin on Vimeo.
Check out his route, timetable and all:
“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” – Albert Einstein
“Every day is a journey and the journey itself is home. ”Matsuo Basho
“It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.” Lao Tzu (from Dan’s Corea to Cape Town-blog)
our plaque at Varne Ridge Caravan Park - along with a couple of other successful swims
Varne Ridge Caravan Park, up on the cliffs between Dover and Folkestone (the ideal place for Channel swimmers and crew to stay when waiting for their swim) have the nice tradition of honouring their successful swimmer-guests by putting up plaques on the walls of the premises. So this is what we got for just a mere 3 hours (21 min.) in the water each!
Thanks Dave and Evelyn!
See also our story on: www.worldharmonyrun.org
Meeting Carl Lewis again in New York, Oct. 2009 (He is wearing the same T-shirt under his jacket!)
During a short visit to New York to honour the Mahasamadhi anniversary of my teacher Sri Chinmoy on Oct. 11th, I had the good fortune of meeting once again Carl Lewis (“Athlete of the Century”), who has been a supporter of and spokesman for the World Harmony Run since its inception back in 1987. Carl has launched a new project FitForever.com – the ultimate online fitness tool and community – and everyone is welcome to join!
Back to running
Running is fun again now that temperatures are beginning to drop. (I basically hadn’t run since my slow 12 hour run in Basel in May.) I love running in the crisp autum air, with brightly coloured leaves all around, and even now, in misty, slightly depressive November. But with my extra kilos now, I have become quite slow. Kastura, a friend, has given me some tips how to get faster again. Next goals: Heidelberg half marathon end of April, then 6 hour-race in Nuremberg (March) and 12 hours of Basel in May. For swimming: 12 hours, Zurich indoors, on March 1st, 2010.
Back to the Neckar
Since our English Channel relay I hadn’t been swimming at all. The indoor pool is still frightening me with its warm temperatures, but I will have to start training for speed, technique, and endurance soon. The first cold dip in the Neckar this season was on Sunday, Nov. 15 – must have been way below Channel temperature already.
Today (Nov. 17th) an article about our English Channel relay appeared in our local newspaper. Feels a bit out of place for only 3 hours 21 min. of swimming in my case, but it was a great adventure with a lot of oneness in our international team – which may be much more important than just doing great things for yourself! And if anybody gets any inspiration from it, I am very happy!
The Neckar in November
Crawl in the Neckar is reserved for Heidelberg-Man-relays (the water is not too clean)
(The article says I was the first German woman – but the truth is: just the first German woman in the annals of the Channel Swimming Association (CSA). In 1938, during the Nazi-regime, Dr. Bruna Plarre swam the Channel in the “Daily Mail International Channel Race” – not sure if it was according to current Channel swimming rules. And the first German male swimmer was Ulrich Haevecker in 1982, 4 min. slower, but breaststroke!)
“Just silence the mind.
Cosmic energy enters
Into our entire being,
And tremendous energy
Flows in and through us.”
– Sri Chinmoy –
A gallery of our little adventure – some photos are still upside down, will have to be fixed later.
Just click on the photo to open the gallery. Enjoy!
Satellite tracker of our pilot boat Anastasia, 4 person relay Sept. 30th
International 4 person relay
We did it! Finishing time 13 hours 21 min. (1 min. slower than our 6-person relay in 1989) on a sandy beach in silver moonlight just off Wissant. A great team effort with lots of grace and a bit of drama: during her second hour Zuzka looked absolutely miserable like she was going to die, eyes pleading ‘take me out here’, trying to swim hard and not able to breathe properly any more. ‘Marylin Bell’ was one of the mantras that would help her do lots better the third time.
I was so happy to be the last swimmer and touch French ground again (after last years experience) and the last couple of hours took me back again to my solo in 1985 where I landed almost at the exact same place in similar conditions – calm, peaceful night, not cold at all, starry sky, but this time with a flood of silver light from an almost full moon.
Viktoria, who has swum in Iceland in sub 10°C waters, came with Dave on the dinghy and brought the World Harmony Run torch to the beach. Last year I only held it at my start in Dover ! We quickly took some photos with the two of us holding the flaming torch, grabbed some pepples or rather sea shells and hurried back. On the way back to the pilot boat, the dinghy almost went under with our weight and I had to swim back to the boat, this time against the waves. It seemed as if someone up there wanted to tell me the relay was definitely not the end of the story …
Abhejali swimming into the light
On French sands with the World Harmony Run torch (Viktoria took it on the dinghy and brought it to the shore)
Back in Dover Marina - Eddie, our pilot, his crew, observer Irene and the relay team
The flags are flying from the Ridge: Czech Republic (Zuzka and Abhejali), Germany (Vasanti) and Iceland (Viktoria)
More details and photos to follow on this webalbum.
For fotos of the World Harmony Run visiting schools in Dover in June this year click here.
Finally! Zuzka is feeling better, this morning she will do a test swim again in the harbour, and tomorrow morning we will be off to France! Amazing: Eddie had suggested the 30th right from the start, and now we are back on that date again! He still had a swimmer in the afternoon of the day we were not ready, so everything is fine.
Here the link again to our pilot boat Anastasia, for those who want to follow our route via the satellite tracker. We expect to swim until after midnight, into Oct. 1st, depending on how difficult it will be to get across the tidal currents off the French coast at our speed: www.ais-doverstraits.co.uk (if you enlarge the map and click on the individual tracking marks, they give you the respective position and time).
Channel quartett with helper - Zuzka, Abhejali, Jayalata, Viktoria, Vasanti
Around midnight of the 26th/27th Eddie called us from the middle of the Channel. Another swim had to be ‘abandoned’ midway, and he would be back in time to be able to take us around 4 a.m. of the 27th – the day we had secretly hoped to be able to swim on but not really expected. Lowest tide, perfect weather, sun predicted. We had everything ready, had gone to bed early – but Zuzka is still feeling weak and is coughing. Still, we went ahead, booked the taxi to take us down from Varne Ridge to the harbour (they were so busy with all the swimmers going out this night/morning), sent out messages to friends, took our sealeg pills and put the kettle and pots on for hot water and pasta for the boat.
But somehow it did not feel right. Zuzka was clearly afraid. Her breathing was not back to normal and she felt one or two more rest days would make a difference. The other option was a 3-person relay. After my experience last year, where I did not listen to my inner feeling, we decided to call Eddie again. When he heard Zuzka would be sad not to be part of the relay but very likely be fine in one or two days, he said he did not want her to feel sad and she should be able to swim since she had been training so hard and in fact it was ‘her’ relay.
So we cancelled the taxi, sent more sms-es – and were very happy about this turn of events. The weather is supposed to hold – and we want to swim with the whole team!
As I am writing this, other swimmers staying at the caravan park are getting ready to start their swim around 3-4 a.m. on one of the best days for swimming of the year. One special heroic person is also out today: Ros, a lady with polio, who had to abandon her swim last year after 25 hours in the Channel in difficult conditions and strong tides. Now she finally got a real chance.
The weather is amazing – there is one swim after the other. Today our pilot is out with position no 2 on Anastasia, the two-way swim, they just missed the cap and the current is carrying them a little off, but they might land soon. The forecast is looking good until the 30th – enough time to get us off, hopefully. Air temperature is dropping a bit, near Calais at night down to 10-12°C, but the water is still around 17°C.
A slovak swimmer, helped by a friend of our swimmers, is going out this morning. (The beach and Varne Ridge have been like a huge international family again, even this late in the season.)
Zuzka is fighting a cold, successfully it seems, and Viktoria’s inflamed ear is pretty fine now. We are trying not to do anyting foolish, eat a lot, sleep a lot, train a little – the typical ‘triathlon’ programme. And of course some meditation and prayers for the good weather to stay – for all the swimmers on this tide as well as the left-over ones from earlier tides! Thanks for all the good wishes from so many parts of the world!
Dover beach - with Channel aspirants 2010 in background
Wednesday morning, Sept. 23rd:
Abhejali and Zuzka – getting Maxim from Freda
Our tide starts tonight, but not only has Eddie 4 swims booked on this tide, and we are in 4th position, but we discovered that one swim is a two-way! So that would be 5 swims on this tide – which to me seems absolutely irresponsible towards the swimmers since as a rule it is hard to even get 3 or 4 swims done on one tide. But he told Suzka he was confident it would work out. Luckily the weather forecast is absolutely great for the next few days until the 27th, and some swimmers or relays are even going out today at noon. Plus it is a long tide.
However, we could not reach Eddie so far this morning and have no idea if he is still taking left over swimmers from the last tide or starting with the new tide swimmers today.Two helpers are coming in the afternoon, then we are ready to go, but the weather is so calm, I am sure the other swimmers before us would want to keep their positions and swim first.
Successful swims on the spring tide
Meeting Chloe after her swim on the beach
Swim Map of Lisa Cummins’ amazing double crossing Sept. 19/20 2009
Over the weekend, on a the highest spring tide of the year, a huge number of successful swims have taken place after the last neap tide was totally blown out by the weather. On Saturday 19th at least 9 boats went out – all the swimmers made it, and more on Sunday and Monday, including a Jersey relay with Sally Minty-Gravett. Lisa Cummins from Ireland did her absolutely fantastic and awesome double crossing on Sept. 19th/20th in 35 hours something, without having ever done a solo! We could watch her boat from Varne Ridge through the binoculars around 30 hours, pushed westward by the tides and heading towards Dungeness. Chloe McCardel, the top marathon swimmer from Australia, who also wanted to do a two-way without having done a solo before, had to be taken out after 25 hours that ended up in very difficult conditions. Still a brilliant effort – and she will be back next year, I heard! Her problem also was that all her helpers had already gone back to Australia!
Visit to Canterbury
So yesterday after swimming 30 min. to 1:45 h individually, we spent the afternoon in Canterbury – my first visit to this amazing gothic cathedral – including some cappuchino, milkshake etc. at a nice little coffee place.
Taking the Euroline bus to Dover at midnight, arriving in the morning – looking forward to that first icy dip in Dover harbour on Saturday and meeting the rest of our 4 person relay team!
Weather seems to be improving, Lisa and Chloe are hoping to do their double attempts on the spring tide Sunday/Monday after the whole last tide was blown out by the weather.
My training has been moderate – 2 hours lake (beautiful crisp early September morning swim with sun glitters dancing on the ripples and hardly a soul around) on Saturday, 3 hours in the pool on overcast on Sunday (felt colder, but still 21°C), last day for the unheated pool, with a big cramp in my right calf towards the end! Nutrition has not been too careful this year. Then 1 hours swims in the heated pool (27°C) and lots of cold showers.
Our window officially opens on the 24th (till Oct. 1st). With no swims last tide I suppose even if the 23rd is swimmable, there will be other swimmers still waiting.
Our boat Anastasia can be followed by satellite tracker. We’ll be staying again at Varne Ridge with internet access and all.
I am fat!
Now I have the weight that would have made all the difference last year – 10 kg more. It feels uncomfortable for running, and I have run very little since Basel in May, but swimming gives strength to the whole body and my legs are still strong. Soon, when it gets cooler, I will start again. I remember, in 1985 I did my fastest 2 miles ever when I was heaviest – right after the Channel! (O.k., my fastest marathon, the only sub 4, came when I had lost 20 kg again and had been biking 1 hour a day for 3 months .)
The funny thing is, I have been appreciating the “blubber” around my waist and over my kidneys – knowing how precious it will be to protect me during my probably 15 hour plus swim next year. But then, to carry it around for all those months, now that the indoor pool season will soon start again … Should I try to loose some? But then it may be hard to get it back in time when the training is getting more intense! Or would it be enough to train more in cold water over the winter? No, as a slower swimmer I need some more fat.
Surprise-SMS: Invitation to Dover – for a relay on the tide starting Sept. 24
For now the answer is clear: I may need the “blubber” soon. My intuition for September was right. Friends from the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team in the Czech Republic who were planning a 3 person relay lost a swimmer. So 2 days ago, late at night, I got an SMS asking if I wanted to step in. Probably we will be four now, with a girl from Iceland also joining, an experienced cold water swimmer – maybe a future solo aspirant!
Our pilot will be Eddie Spelling, and we are only 4th place. But relays can go when solo swimmers might turn an offer down because the conditions don`t look too good. The main challenge for a relay is – telling from our 1989 experience – to avoid getting seasick on the boat. Or, if you do get seasick, to still continue to be able to jump back in into the cold and maybe the dark.
In 1989 we were a 6 person-relay and the best time was when we were allowed to swim. One hour is barely enough to get into the “zone”, and on the boat it was only suffering. Lying down on our backs was the only position to survive. I don`t remember eating much (potatoes?), but luckily it was sunny and pretty calm. At that time I was convinced to never ever do a relay again. Too little swimming. But this is different now – touch base again for next year!
Friends had blown a relay in 1985 when they got seasick already on their way to the start in France. Nowadays starts from France are no longer possible, but in “ancient” times, swim direction would depend on the wind. They started swimming from France into the night in pretty nasty conditions. At one point one swimmer got hit by the boat when it was lifted out of the water by a big wave and fell back on his shoulder. On a sick stomach, feeling cold and terrible if not terrified, one team member just couldn`t deal with it anymore and refused to get back into the black cold waves – and that was it for the relay.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Gale force at Wissant bay, France, Sept. 3rd, 2009
The weather right now in Dover is horrible – no attempts at all during this tide, with winds up to gale force. I think we will be very lucky to get a chance at all!
Tomorrow morning 2 hour lake swim* – luckily the air temperature here has dropped to 12-16 °C in the mornings, but the water will still be much too warm. Ice baths at home will be needed now. Then Dover harbour starting on the 20th, hopefully. Our tide is from Sept. 24th to Oct. 1st. We will be staying at Varne Ridge, like last year. I am really excited to get back to Dover!
(*was 2.5 h, wrist is holding, tendonitis seems over, but just strong enough for a relay)
On August 13, Karteek from Edinburgh finished his 10th successful Channel swim in 16 h 49 min.
The same day Suprabha Beckyord from Washington, D.C. – another teammate – finished her 13th 3100 mile race in New York in a time of 61 days (unimaginable for me, but highly inspirational to follow the daily reports on https://perfectionjourney.org). For both of them these challenges are more of an inner quest than just athletic feats.
The online-article is followed by a few comments by Kevin Murphy, current King of the Channel and Karteek`s oberserver on the day.
Businessman hails yoga after completing tenth swim to France
Published Date: 20 August 2009
By MARK McLAUGHLIN
AFTER completing a gruelling swim of the English Channel, he vowed to never put his body through the pain again.
But Edinburgh businessman Karteek Clarke just can’t leave a challenge alone. He gave it another go – becoming the first Scot to attempt the crossing twice. Then he did it again, and again, and again.
Incredibly, the 42-year-old business training consultant from Newington has now completed his tenth swim to France – and he puts his remarkable achievement down to meditation and yoga.
He said: “Every time I do it I say it will be my last time, but this time so many events conspired to draw me back to Dover to give it
“I first attempted it back in 1994 and I thought I could complete it with very little training, but I had to give up after I’d been going for 12 hours and still hadn’t even made it halfway.
“I went back and trained properly and completed the crossing in 1997, and a friend of mine filmed me coming out of the water saying that it was great but that I was never doing that again. It was just too tough.”
Mr Clarke spent a few years pursuing less gruelling athletic challenges, such as swimming Lake Zurich in Switzerland.
“It’s only 17 miles across and it’s a bit warmer,” he said. “It’s hardly a dip in the pool but it’s nothing compared to the Channel.”
However, the Channel drew him back once more in 2000, and has refused to let him go since.
He says he has been continually drawn to cross-Channel swimming by his devotion to the Sri Chinmoy discipline of yoga and athletic endurance.
On his latest trip, completed on 13 August, he was monitored from a boat by “King of the English Channel” Kevin Murphy, the male world record holder with 34 crossings under his belt.
Mr Murphy’s feat is dwarfed only by the “Queen”, Alison Streeter, who has crossed the Channel an impressive 43 times.
Mr Clarke said: “I’m definitely not racing to catch up with these guys.
“I keep going back to hone my meditation skills as our Sri Chinmoy teacher encourages us to undertake these tasks to promote self-discipline. Like most brands of yoga, the aim is to silence the restless mind and purge it of negative thoughts. After about six hours in the water, you’re cold, wet and miserable, but it starts to become quite exhilarating.”
This time, the choppy seas, showers and swell made conditions difficult, and Mr Clarke had to battle seasickness which led to his
energy levels dropping.
He finally paddled up the shore at Calais 16 hours and 59 minutes after setting off. The world record for a cross-Channel swim is just under seven hours.
Mr Clarke is one of a select few swimmers who have repeatedly crossed the Channel.
Michael Oram, honorary secretary of the English Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, said: “Very few people have swam the Channel more than ten times, and while Mr Clarke has his spiritual motivations, others are motivated by the challenge.
“The Channel is the Everest of swimming, and I would argue that it’s even tougher than climbing Everest because there have been so many ropes and handrails added over the years that you can just stroll up it now. More than 4,000 people have climbed Everest but only around 1,000 have swam the Channel because it’s all about the endurance.”
Observations by Kevin Murphy who helped out as an observer and even crew member for Karteek, whose helper was busy feeding the fish most of the time (i.e. completely seasick):
“I was out yesterday observing Karteek Clarke’s successful swim (16hrs 49mins). The first five hours in the dark and what passed for dawn seemed to me to be miserable with a fair swell, a following sea and wind strong enough to be blowing the rain horizontally through the back doors into the cabin. It looked to be quite difficult for the swimmer to get a rhythm going. Although it was Karteek’s tenth Channel swim he started being sick after a couple of hours, until it calmed down. But afterwards he said it wasn’t the swimming that made him sick – it was looking at the way the boat was rolling! The second half of yesterday’s swim was brilliant and was as calm as could be hoped for – not quite glassy smooth but almost. Unfortunately, unless you’re lucky or very fast, the Channel is seldom calm all the way across…
Incidentally, I was very impressed by Karteek. He was always cheerful, always smiling, always confident, fed quickly, never asked how far he’d got to go and just got on with the job. If he keeps knocking them off like he did yesterday I think I may have a problem!”
Kevin Murphy (34 crossings)
Click to see the You Tube video
August 13th, the day Karteek completed his 10th Channel crossing in 16 h 49 min, Julianne Galloway from Dublin, Ireland, “blasted” across the Channel in the fastest time for a woman’s solo this year so far: 9 hours 51. Start: 2:20 a.m.
Her captivating report can be found on her blog, here just 2 paragraphs:
“…The first hour was, for lack of a better word, hell. It was very choppy and I was swimming in pitch black water with mirrored goggles (Naive mistake number 2). What was I thinking!? The boat kept feeling like it was going to crash into me, and I felt very lost swimming next to it. It wasn’t so bad swimming at night, I wasn’t scared or anything, but it was so incredibly hard to navigate breathing and the like because I could not see the waves coming toward me. Usually, when it’s light, if I see a wave I may not breathe, or if I get water in my mouth, I can spit it out. Well this time water was going everywhere, and I felt like I was thrashing the waves…”
Getting closer – or what?
“…France was getting closer and closer, but still seemed quite far away. I was trying to gauge how much I had left, so at 8 hours, I asked if I’d 2 more to go. They didn’t seem happy with this question! Lance yelled at me to stop chatting and just swim. I kind of snarled at him and took off, wanting to know how much left I had. It’s not that I wanted to give up. I wanted to know where I was in this mad thing! I couldn’t tell if I had a kilometre, a mile, 5 miles or even 3 nautical miles left. (Naive mistake number 4- wtf is a nautical mile? I kept trying to remember Mike Oram’s emails describing all this information I should have learned by this point, but nothing solid came from my noggin.) So I quoted Nemo for the 5000th time, and said ‘Just keep swimming’.” more
Very happy Channel swimmer!
Miyuki Fujita with Channel friend Margit Bohnhoff 2008 in Dover
Miyuki from Japan, little “Japanese Channel Queen” with 7 crossings now, was also waiting for favourable conditions to attempt her first double crossing. I had the pleasure of meeting her (and her friend Margit Bonhoff) and swim with her in Dover harbour last year. She is sweet, humble, funny and “totally crazy” about the Channel (in her own words). But for days and days the weather did not offer a larger window for a 2-way swim.
Afraid to have to fly back to Japan without even getting her feet wet, she finally went out in less than perfect conditions shortly after midnight on August 3rd with Neil Streeter as her pilot, Alison (Queen of the Channel) Streeter’s brother.
Miyuki, Ishii and Margit, training and waiting in Dover weather last year
While she completed 5 of her 6 previous solos in 14 hours or less, she would need 17 hours 18 min for the first leg this year with the wind against her most of the time. Determined to not give up, she still turned round after touching French ground to give her all to the second leg, even though the prospects were not encouraging at all and she had to swim through the night again. She swam valiantly for a total of 29.5 hours, refusing to give in to tiredness, feelings of hoplessness, the cold etc., but had to be taken out of the water after getting a bad cramp in her leg a few miles away from Dover.
This is Miyuki’s story in her own words:
“The English Channel Swim Report 2009
I always wanted to be the best and do something unusual so I aimed to
complete the two-way crossing, not just one way, as no Japanese person has ever successfully swum the two-way Channel crossing.
On my first attempt, I had to stop after ten hours due to thigh pain and I didn’t finish even one-way. A week later, I had another
opportunity to swim the one-way. I swam for 17hours 35minutes but had to give up just 3km from the French coast.
My respected Freda then gave me some good advice, “When you swim the Channel crossing, you shouldn’t look ahead. It makes you feel as if your goal is very far away and that you still have much further to swim so it is mentally harder to keep going. Also, you shouldn’t stop because by doing this you will be drifted by the tide and have to swim further. You shouldn’t do anything which will be disadvantageous to you. You should try the one way swim again.” It was in 2004.
The next year, I began training again for the one-way swim and followed Freda’s advice. Since then, I have successfully completed the one way crossing six times.
This year, I went back to Dover again. I felt ready for to attempt the two-way swim. I planned to stay in Dover for 35 days and waited nervously for the big day. Neil, the boat pilot, would choose the day with the best weather conditions for the swim. The other swimmers had gone to swim one after another and everybody kept asking me when I was going to swim but the days passed and I still had no idea when I would get to swim.
I started to feel very frustrated but I could not do anything but wait and trust Neil to pick a good day. For the two-way swim, we would need two consecutive fine days. It was possible that the weather conditions would not permit me to swim because the weather was constantly changing. I told Neil that if the two-way was not possible, I still intended to swim at least one way before flying back to Japan.
At last, one week before I was due to leave England and go back to Japan, Freda told me that I would be able to swim on the next Monday or Tuesday. I was so happy because I had been waiting such a long time for this chance and could not stop crying.
On Monday, I was on the beach with Jenni, an observer when Neil called her to say that we should all meet at the marina at 19:00 that evening for my two-way challenge! I was overjoyed. I was going to attempt the two way swim! I was so pleased that Jenni would also be coming on the boat with me as my observer. I got my thing ready for the swim, had a massage and went to bed for a nap. At last the time for my big challenge had come!
Our boat was called Suva. Once on board, I applied the Channel grease to my body. When the boat came close to Shakespeare Beach, Ishii, my coach farted. Everybody on the ship started to laugh and the atmosphere became very relaxed. Even when I was swimming in the dark, I remembered it and laughed. It was nice to have a funny thought to make me smile whilst I was swimming, particularly when it became dark.
That night I started swimming from Shakespeare Beach. I was familiar with the currents around the beach from my previous swims but, for some reason, on this occasion I kept drifting so that every time I looked up I saw the same scenery. I worried that I might not be moving forward at all and was scared by a big red jelly fish that brushed my arm, stinging me.
After about 40 minutes, saltwater filled my goggles. I had already tested the goggles in the water but the waves pushed the water in. My eyes started to sting. I knew from my previous experiences that the eyes are very important to a long distance swimmer so I changed my goggles when I stopped for my feeding.
I am used to swimming at night but I still felt sleepy. Suddenly, I was surprised by some people screaming. They were a relay team who had already finished their swim and were on the way back to Dover. Their support encouraged me a lot.
Swimming into the French side, I started to struggle with the high waves. Some were as big as 2m. The sea always tends to be rough
towards France and the currents are very fast.
Morning came and as it got brighter, I began to wake up a bit. By this point, I was really enjoying swimming even in the rough waters but I realized that France was still far away after 14 hours of swimming. I usually swim one way in 14 hours but Ishii told me that this time I would have to swim for another four hours to reach France. I realized that I must have drifted a long way off course when I was swimming near Dover and kept seeing the same scenery.
Miyuki says she loves swimming in big waves - like here in Japan
Consequently, it took me 17hours 18minutes to swim just one-way. I told Ishii that it would be impossible to finish two-way because the first leg had taken too long but he encouraged me to swim a little longer. I swam for three more hours before I asked him if I could give up. Ishii said that the weather conditions were going to become better so there would be no wind or waves so I had better keep swimming as such good conditions were very rare. He told me that I could complete the swim in just eight more hours in such favorable conditions.
I was determined to swim for another eight hours. I tried very hard, spurred on by the though that my dream of swimming the two-way Channel crossing was about to come true. My husband, the pilot, my colleagues, everybody would be delighted! What would I do if TV reporters were waiting for me at Narita airport? What would I do next after my dream had come true? Maybe I could try to swim the one-way ten times! Or perhaps I should try to become the oldest Channel swimmer! Pondering over these random things, I pushed myself to continue swimming.
My body ached and I wanted to give up many time but I kept my arms moving.
Night came again and it became cold but I didn’t stop. I saw the lights of England as I swam closer and closer to England.
I drank another feeding and said to the people on the boat that I could not swim any more but they told me to keep trying. I screamed and my voice echoed in the darkness over Channel.
It was the first time that my body was chilled to my very bones and even my wrists started to ache.
I gave up about 5 hours from England (about 4 miles). I was mentally and physically exhausted. I could not swim the last five hours.
I recalled my first Channel swim. That time, I was also unable to swim the last few hours. I could see the white houses on the French coast but just could not swim. I realized that I had not followed Freda’s good advice. I had looked ahead and convinced myself that the end was too far away for me to keep swimming. If I had continued to swim very slowly, I might have been able to finish the swim but, because I was tired, I convinced myself that I could not do it.
To be a successful long distance swimmer, you have to be mentally strong. I had swum 30 hours in pool and 20 hours 7 minutes in sea. Even though it was tough, I am glad that I did not stop after just one way and challenged myself to my limit.
Now, I have to use this experience to aid my future training for my
next Channel swim. On my first swim, I stopped after just 10 hours but now I was able to swim for about 29hours 30minutes. I never dreamed I would be able to swim for so long.
I am so grateful to the people who have helped me to come so far. I could not have done all this by myself. Thank you very much for supporting me. I hope that I will soon be able to fulfill my dream of completing the two way swim and will continue to enjoy swimming.
“The Channel swim was… the human mind is weak, you will inevitably experience feelings of struggle and sadness when you swim, but, hopefully, you will find happiness, too.”— Miyuki
What a great spirit of “gambaru” and self-transcendence!
- Miyuki, Marcy MacDonald and Barrie Wakeham in Dover harbour
Nice article about Miyuki on www.10kswimmer.com
Marcy + Gumby, Dover Beach
Marcy`s swim route Aug. 2nd 09
August 2nd looked like a swim day, finally. And it was the middle of the neap tide! Quite a few boats went out around 8 a.m., with several swimmers intending to attempt a double crossing. But the wind would pick up again to 15-20 knots (windforce 4-5). Marcy totally enjoyed her swim in the waves, touched France in 11 hours 31 to complete her 10th solo crossing (including 2 2-way), turned round to start on the second leg and see how things would develop, but then stopped after an hour or so when the waves got so high they were rolling her on her back and it became dangerous. “I had a blast,” she writes on her blog.
Lianne Lewellyn set out for a double crossing, too – in what turned out to become atrocious conditions that tested her to the limit. She completed the first leg in 11 h 20 min and turned back to battle the waves for anouther 16 hours plus – with the added difficulty of swimming through the night.
Strong arms for a double crossing in challenging conditions (Click for video)
Carried off course by the currents and strong winds she finally landed at St. Margaret`s Bay way east of Dover, totally exhausted, after 27 hours 35 minutes of uninterrupted swimming – except for the short moments on French dry ground. What an achievement!
Choppy - Lianne Lewellyn swimming "uphill" (click to see the video)
These are the days every Channel swimmer is longing for – but they are rare and precious – and sometimes just too short for slower swimmers who need a bigger window of swimmable weather in the fast changing Channel conditions – or for a double:
A short "perfect" day in the Channel - July 4th 2009, photo by Fenland Swimmers UK
When attempting to swim the Channel, a lot of patience may be needed. Plus plenty of luck or Grace. Often swimmers are waiting for more than one tide without even getting a chance to attempt their swim. They have prepared for one or more years, flewn in from other continents – maybe for nothing. So, often swimmers will go out on “iffy” days – never knowing for sure how conditions will develop, in spite of the knowledge and experience of their pilots.
“Perfect” days in the Channel are very, very few, especially during the short period of the neap tides, but yesterday was one of them: almost no winds, no currents, sun out – most of the pilot boats were out with their swimmers, some can be followed all the way via satellite tracking. In the late afternoon you could see many of the boats crowding around Cap Griz Nez or just on their way back – a couple of swims reached the Cap dead-on.
Satellite Tracking of Anastasia, July 31st, 2009, with debris from a previous swim on July 29th
Here is one of those almost straight swims – the broken line to the right shows the remains of a previous swim 2 days earlier – with much more tidal push.
… are over
Today one swimmer – Marcy MacDonald – is hoping to go for her 3rd double crossing – but the conditions in Dover and the forecast
Webcam at Wissant bay on Aug 1st, where many swimmers touch French ground
don`t seem to be as perfect anymore – while Wissant (left) is looking pretty calm still.
Dover on the morning of Aug 1st - photo by Marcy MacDonald
Below: This was the situation in Dover in the morning – so quite a few boats ready to go turned round back into the harbour to wait for a front to pass through.
Next possibility to swim in the evening? A Channel swimmer just has to stay prepared and rested and catch enough sleep – which is another challenge in itself.
In July it became clear that even if the Channel pilots ran out of swimmers during a period of good weather in September, I would not be able to swim a solo this year. Instead of stepping up my training – at least for a possible last minute Zurich lake spot – I had to reduce. From my computer work (and some games in between) I contracted a painful tendonitis on my right wrist. Olive oil bandages over night helped a little, and swimming for half an hour a day, I felt, helped the healing process, too. But 1 hour or longer swims were out of the question for a few weeks.
summer pool temperature (27°C/80.6 °F)
In addition, pool temperatures went up to 27°c. On rain days only the warm pool was open – at 28 °C or more, plus overcrowded. Going to the lake regularly for only a short swim was hardly worth the trouble. The best were half-rainy days, with the regular pool open just in the morning with only a few swimmers.
My tendonitis did not even allow me to go to Zurich at the end of July to at least help rowing, and so I did some professional training instead. The next day I heard I could have even gotten a last minute swim slot! What kind of year was this for me???
So I continued following closely how other Channel swimmers were doing via satellite trackers and chat group.
Waidsee in Weinheim - great for middle distance training - 30 min. to the other side and back in a triangle
In August, when my wrist had gotten better, I enjoyed a few “longer” swims in the smaller lake in Weinheim, but never doing anything over 2,5 hours. My feeling was, I should soon start training more seriously again for next year, but it seemed hard to really get motivated. At that point I did not expect anything special to happen this year any more.
Only a few solo swimmers have succeeded in their crossing so far for this year. Relays can manage better with more difficult weather and tidal conditions – except for the seasickness on board!
Nick Adams – accomplished 4 times Channel soloist now and even one time 2-way Channel swimmer – did not have an easy time on his 4th crossing: 5 hours in windforce 5 is no joke! Very well done for staying in there and not giving up (he may be forgiven for throwing up on the video, cause the windforce 5 part could not be filmed or photographed for understandable reasons, and the end of the video may just convey a bit the drama).
Nick Adams' 4th solo crossing of the Channel - 5 hours in F5 - only the effects are visible on the video Part II
Link to video Part I starting with the greasing up in the dark (a start in the dark is acutally nice because you swim into daylight!)
Unfortunately there is no video or photos available for Sophie Rutenbar of the Serpentine Club (they swim in the Serpentine in Hyde Park the middle of London even in the midst of winter in snow), who conquered the same conditions in a great time of 14:33.
And as a stress-relief for those endless days of patient waiting: the Russian way of acclimatising to low temperatures:
Russian Ice Swimmers -are you sure you are well prepared for the Channel?
The first 2 successful Channel crossings of the season have happened: two relays, on June 13th and 18th (see Dover life). Today a couple of pilots went out with their swimmers (maybe around 4 a.m.?) – and I was glued to the screen, following the little dots online via ship-tracking as far as they show up (about halfway to France) while working on my website business. Today was only the beginning of the neap tides (maybe even still spring tide), meaning the current was still strong. The only thing I know right now: Alison`s relay team on Roco did it, getting swept way past the Cap towards Boulogne, but then turning towards France in a sharp angle and soon afterwards touching land. “Nice and sunny, wind 3/4” Nick Adams wrote 10 min. before his last turn in the relay.
The German swimmer, Peter Hücker with Andy King, was swept quite a bit East in the beginning, much more so than the other boats, but with the changing tide made a sharp angle South. I thought it might be a variant – making a bigger curve in the beginning to avoid getting swept past the Cap. He took very long to reach the halfway point, and then the boat disappeared from the screen. Later I heard he had to abondon the swim. So unfortunate! So much preparation – and that’s it for this time!
My training is still too easy for a Channel swim – it’ll be next year – but I did my first 5 hours on the weekend – split in 3 sessions, that is. Pool, pool, lake. For some fun and leg exercise one lap with fins in the lake. How I enjoyed the open water finally! After last year’s endless hours in the lake and Dover harbour I have long been enjoying the luxury of clear, and in the mornings pretty empty pools where you can see the bottom, with the sun painting dancing patterns on the turquoise floor – and of getting tanned also on the front side by the reflected sun. If the weather was good enough for the non-heated pool to open, that is (at 9 a.m.!). Another luxury of beeing self-employed – I can take my time off when I want to, mostly.
Not doing weight sessions in a gym like last year my shoulder muscles have shrunken. Maybe backstroking regularly in the Neckar, like tonight, when I can`t make it to the pool at an empty hour, is a good idea, better even with paddles and fins. Another luxury, which I would never enjoy were I not training for something a little bit outlandish: swimming in this peaceful setting of the Neckar nestled into green lush hills, at the feet of a monastary, so to say, at a spot nicely sheltered from the public. (Hardly anybody sane swims in the Neckar these days, unless for the Heidelbergman.)
I had hoped for a 5 hour swim this week – but it didn`t happen. Thursday (holiday): by the time I was ready to head to the “nice” pool they announced they would close it due to the weather. The warm pool of course was overcrowded, plus too warm, and the lake no option again.
Saturday the weather was perfect and the nice pool pretty emty, but I only managed 2,5 hours – just not enough inner intensity, energy and mental patience. Sunday only 1 pool hour in the morning and one lake hour with fins in the afternoon – not even 5 hours over the whole weekend!
Looking at my training schedule from last year I just cannot believe what I did then and where I got the power to do it. Totally different focus. But it’s fine. Just getting ready for the Zurich lake now. Trying to find my extra boat.
At the same time I am constantly thinking “I want to loose weight”, I feel so heavy with my extra kilos, especially for running – and I may not need them this year. Last year they would have been perfect. But then, a spontaneous solo end of September if the weather is fine is still in the back of my mind.
You might have thought I am training so hard I have no time to post – not quite.
Concentrating more on my new business this year I just don’t have as much time and energy for training as before – even though I love it as soon as I get into the water or out into nature. I enjoy arm- and leg-training using fins in the lake, backstroking (for safety reasons) in the Neckar when the pool is too crowded on a hot day, or the luxury of having a pool almost to myself on a Dover-weather day (quite frequent, lately, except that the pool closes on a complete rain day).
However, my best discipline right now is eating ice cream, and I have gained the weight that would have helped me last year – but I am not even sure I will need it right now. At the same time, the weight makes running more difficult. So I am thinking: last year too much training and too little ice cream, this year vice versa, and next year the middle path.
Realistically, my big triathlon will take place in 2010. (Some friends were right last year, but I didn’t want to accept it.) By then I will be able to train again with more one-pointedness, enthusiasm and intensity and not depend on others too much financially. It will be our team’s 25th Channel swimming anniversary, maybe a great way to celebrate. Still I want to keep up a good training level this year.
On the weekend of Pentecost (May 30th to June 1st) I did my first “long” swim this year: 3 hours in the outdoor pool – and I not only got a bad sunburn but most likely also a sunstroke, since I felt weak and almost fainted in the evening and was shivering in the pool the next day. It seems the sun is getting more aggressive, others felt the same. It was great to swim together with old Channel friends though, like in “olden days”. Speeds you up immediately.
Last year I did 12 hours indoors in February, 5 hours outdoors May 1st, and longer swims starting June. Looking back to 1985 when I only started training for the Channel beginning of May, I felt that now with more experience it may even be fine to start long swims only in June, but it may just be enough for a comfortable Zurich lake swim. The only thing is, the Zurich lake is booked out. Maybe a long training swim in Dover in August – just to keep it up? Or hope for last minute cancellations for Zurich.
My Swiss teammate Vedika, who has swum the Channel 5 times, once did it on the spur of the moment, because the weather was good and all swimmers had gone. She had been in Dover only to help – and then ended up doing her 4th crossing, with just the Zurich lake 2 weeks earlier as “preparation”. (So now she is afraid of going to Dover even as a helper – it might end up too costly!)
After 6 hours of running through the night - nicely showered and in fresh clothes
Basel 12/24 h race, May 9/10th
Last year my long distance events came naturally – 12 hours indoor swim in February in Zurich, 6 hour race in March in Nürnberg, Heidelberg halfmarathon in April, Mannheim marathon and 12 hours of Basel in May etc.
This year I just did the Heidelberg halfmarathon and Basel. But instead of 12 hours I only did 6 hours in Basel – the slowest six hours ever, I believe (don’t mention the distance, even if it was worth 3rd place for the ladies 50-60). How could I run the hilly and difficult Heidelberg halfmarathon in 2:33, but take over 3 hours for a flat halfmarathon 2 weeks later in Basel? My excuse to stop after 6 hours was that I was needed back in Heidelberg for translation in the evening and my ride was leaving early, but my feet hurt so much and I felt so heavy that I was grateful for that excuse. Plus it served as my first 6 hour run of the year. I did enjoy running slowly and steadily throught the night, but I was happy not having to run in the blazing sun later in the morning. When I look at the photos (click on the albums to see the photos) of the race, however, I am immediately inspired to do better or more next time! Another 12/24-hour-race in Berlin in July is beckoning – if I can only up my running discipline!
10 km into the half-marathon.... (photos taken on a training run 2 weeks before)
On Sunday, during the Heidelberg halfmarathon, I was thinking a lot of my friends who are challenging themselves in the 6- and 10-day Self-Transcendence-Race in New York. That makes 21,0975 km feel so short!
Still I knew it would not be easy, but I wanted to enjoy the journey. I had not done any serious really long runs since last year’s triathlon training, and I am at least 5 kg heavier than last April, plus one year older.. The course is hilly with a number of steep sections and the sun would be blazing part of the way… So my only goal was to focus, stay happy and hopefully finish under 2:45 (I am a slow runner anyway).
past the Castle...
And I totally enjoyed the run. The 3500 runners started in blocks to fit through the narrow streets and forrest paths. I was way in the back. In the beginning my running was so slow, I saw the “Besen-wagen” (pick up van for the drop-outs) only a few hundred meters behind. At the end it only took me 3 minutes longer than last year – not bad! And I felt strong – the Channel training is still there.
Finally downhill again
However, with no serious sports challenge since last year I had almost forgotten the inner joy and intensity they give. It was like a wake-up call. “Run and become” – a phrase my teacher Sri Chinmoy coined, is so true! (Of course also for swimming etc.) Setting goals is important to challenge oneself, but the main thing is happening along the way. I love the many special training experiences – sometimes mystic or ecstatic, when you are running into the rising sun or under the stars, the purified feeling after a swim workout and the intense feeling of inner peace and vastness after a bigger challenge which may stay for days or weeks or even months (like after my first ultra-triathlon in Australia) – this is what for me sports is all about. A form of meditation, or an intensification of meditation, a door to inner experiences.
During the half-marathon, the memory came back why I had started to train for the Channel at all in 1985 . I was longing for real ultra-experiences, the spiritual aspect – but shin splints and other problems kept me away. Then the Channel opportunity presented itself. –
The last mile...
So the half-marathon was tough as usual, but also tremendous joy. A great feeling of oneness – oneness with the other runners, with the cheering, clapping, drumming supporters along the route, offering water and food at private stations, with the beauty of nature and the scenic route.
Happy after 2 h 32:40
Not sure what my next event will be. Last year was very different – I took all ultra-opportunities without question. This year I am going with the flow, right now I still have to concentrate on my work. But May will show how serious I can become this year about my project.
Ashrita posing with his Guinness World Record Certificate for 100 GWRs
I have known Ashrita Furman since 1981. His focus, determination, dedication to his spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy (like Hanuman, if you know the Ramayana) and his boundless, exuberant, at times quite wild, but basically 🙂 innocent enthusiasm and energy combined with a totally positive attitude have inspired me many times.
What started out at a time when many of our team entered into the field of ultra-distances with the idea to challenge inner and outer limitations in a spirit of self-transcendence (not rivalry) and in search for spiritual experiences, in his case became an intense pursuit, often athletic but also exotic or involving group oneness, to challenge the “impossible” by breaking or establishing Guinness Records.
On April 14th, 2009, Ashrita became the first person ever to hold 100 Guinness World Records at one time, by organising the translation and recitation of a text – the poem “Precious” by our late teacher Sri Chinmoy – in the most number of languages (I heard not all 111 languages were recognised, some being dialects, but the record is valid.)
(Media all over the world picked up the story, here a link to local report in the New York Daily News)
213 records stretched out over a span of 30 years were needed to reach that goal – many broken several times by others in the meantime. Many of Ashritas records, like sommersaulting for 12 miles in 1986, were very tough – physically and mentally. But at the same time he had lots of fun over the years – even with record attempts that never worked out.
Here the official Guinness World Record press release about his latest record. (The stories on his blog are a fascinating read, by the way!)
GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS HONORS ONE MAN’S HISTORIC MILESTONE – 100 RECORDS BROKEN!
Ashrita Furman Becomes First Person to Hold 100 Guinness World Records Simultaneously
NEW YORK – April 14, 2009 – Ashrita Furman reached a milestone today by becoming the first person to simultaneously hold 100 Guinness World Records when he and over 100 participants earned the world record for “A Poem / Literary Passage Recited in the Most Languages.” The historic moment was a long time in the making for Furman, who has been breaking Guinness World Records for over 30 years. New York City Councilman James F. Gennaro presided over the event at City Hall Park in New York City and Guinness World Records judge Danny Girton Jr. was on hand to verify the feat.
Ashrita being honoured by Guiness World Records for his 100st standing GWR
Furman and over 100 members from the Sri Chinmoy Centre recited “Precious” by Sri Chinmoy in 111 languages including Afrikaans, Dzongkha, Kabyle and Picard. The group beat the current record held by the International Social Service of Hong Kong, which recited “Values on Communal Harmony” in 79 different languages on November 23, 2008.
Celebrating cultural diversity – and a tribute to his teacher Sri Chinmoy
The proud record-breaker had this to say about his unprecedented accomplishment, “With more than 170 nationalities represented in New York City this record celebrates the diversity of our city. While it wasn’t as physically challenging as some of my other records, having this record as my 100th is a very special tribute to Sri Chinmoy.”
“What Ashrita did today is an amazing feat for him and Guinness World Records alike,” said Craig Glenday, Editor-in-Chief at Guinness World Records. “He has a 30-year relationship with Guinness World Records that is nothing less than stunning, breaking records around the world and proving that you don’t have to be famous to be the world’s best.”
New York City Councilman James F. Gennaro (D-Queens) added, “This is exactly the type of event that should take place in the seat of New York City government. To speak and hear the precious utterances of Sri Chinmoy is truly an inspiration.”
Ashrita Furman has been breaking Guinness World Records since 1979, when he completed 27,000 jumping jacks to earn his first Guinness World Record. Since then, the 54-year old health food store manager from Queens, New York has broken records on all seven continents, including completing the fastest mile on a pogo stick in Antarctica and bouncing the fastest mile on a kangaroo ball along the Great Wall of China. Furman has practiced meditation for over 30 years, which helps him keeps his concentration during marathon record attempts. Whether it be performing forward rolls for the entire 12-mile length of Paul Revere’s ride through Massachusetts or racing against a Yak in Mongolia to set the mile sack-racing record, Furman is a determined individual and a true world-class record holder! (end of Guinness World Records press release)
Why he does it? More on his video-interview by Kedar Misani on Live Voices right after the event.
Spring has arrived in Heidelberg – with summer temperatures. Even last weekend it was warmer here than in Dover in August, but now temperatures are up to 24 °C (75 Fahrenheit)! The Heidelberg halfmarathon, which I registered for again, is on April 27th – so I do have to get a bit of hill-training in. Without my training partners from last year, I have a little bit less dicipline. So today I went for my longest run this year – 2 1/2 easy hours, over the Philosophenweg from Ziegelhausen to Heidelberg in the midday heat with luckily some parts in the shade, all the way down, and all the way up and back again, with some rest and stretching in between. The heat really is a problem for me – that was the reason why last year I did not want to put on too much weight. And that is why I don’t think I will ever do the Marathon des Sables. (Two years ago the halfmarathon was in similar temperatures and people collapsed!)
This is one of the most tricky things about the triathlon project: finding just the right balance between heat and cold tolerance.
After my run, I changed into my bathing suit (and some more clothes) and went down to the Neckar. It was incredibly peaceful, no soul around in spite of the holiday (Good Friday), hardly any clouds in the blue sky, the water much clearer now with the dry weather, but still not inviting enough for me to put my head into it. It was easy to stay in for 30 minutes, it must be over 10°C now. I love it, even though it is not real training – breaststroking against the current. Some people passed by and asked about the temperature – I suppose it must have looked quite tempting to take a dip.
Since I am staying in Heidelberg over the Easter Holidays, which is quite unusual, I might just as well use the great weather and make it a new habit to swim every day/morning in the river, as long as it is still moderately cold. No danger anymore that people will call the police, I suppose.
Today was my first dip in the Neckar (or any kind of open water) since January – 17 min. in 8.5°C (47/48 Fahrenheit), with the sun out! Only breaststroking in the yacky water on the spot against the current. I totally enjoyed it – thanks Pragya! I would love to do it everyday by myself, but I am afraid people will call the water police if there is noone to watch me and make sure I am fine.
It happened in winter – one Sunday I was almost determined to go in by myself after running, after a friend had not shown up, but on my run home along the Neckar I suddenly saw plenty of police and an ambulance, and when I asked what it was all about they said they were looking for a person in the water and asked if I had seen someone. A skipper had reported a person going into the water and suspected suicide. I asked if there were any clothes on the shore and when they said no, I said, well, probably someone went for a polar bear dip and had gone home by now. But they were not convinced. A bit later at home, coming out of the shower, I heard helicopter noise right in front of the house over the Neckar – they were still searching! Imagine to have to pay for such a rescue operation!
Yesterday I was very inspired when I found a new Channel swimmer blog: https://www.farbeyondtheblackline.blogspot.com/ by Carrol Wannell, an Australian lady and very strong swimmer, who had been a caravan neighbour with her husband at Varne Ridge last summer and was also unfortunate. She is determined to make it this year – way to go, Carrol! (And I am happy you liked the poems by Sri Chinmoy!)
Sorry for not updating my blog for so long. I am amazed at how many people are still looking at my old blog and wondering who they are!
So I skipped the 12 hour indoors swim in Zurich for several reasons (too little training, a slightly inflamed elbow, lots of work and little time), and even the 6 hour race in Nürnberg, and changed my plans a bit. I have been concentrating more on my work over the last few months, wanting to finance my project now more with my own funds, after friends and the team helped so much. But I am not sure how much I will be able to save until summer.
Training has still been reduced. As soon as I am in the water and swimming or out running, I feel really good, but the warm pools are difficult and I do need more discipline. And the Neckar has not been inviting at all – it has been muddy ever since the snow melted. Some yoga – including my children yoga classes – and a little weight training at home help to keep my muscles up. My preferred pose, great for arm and shoulder training: the dolphin (video)!
Moved to September
But August started to look more and more improbable and I had not even paid my full deposit – so I talked to my pilot and he agreed to move my 4th place slot to September – with the idea of maybe only doing another Channel solo this year, with a more comfortable amount of body fat, and postponing the triathlon project to 2010. That would allow me to do the Zurich lake swim beginning of August as a great training swim (instead of the 12 hours now in March) – and give me a good reason to keep training on a more intense level than I would otherwise and enjoy the way even longer. I often feel, sports can be like a spiritual sadhana – for others it may be art, music etc. (In a way I am quite grateful it didn’t happen last year – I feel there is much more to get out of the whole adventure, on many different levels.)
Should I win the lottery I might still concentrate more on the triathlon – only I am not buying any tickets. But right now, the idea of a second “training” Channel solo this year and returning to Dover again – where I had the greatest time last year – in 2010 feels good. In Germany we have a saying: “Aller guten Dinge sind drei – all good things come in threes”. So I am trying to leave it up to a higher will.
Updates will be a bit more frequent now, I promise.
Over the weekend I got immersed in Lynne Cox`s gripping and deeply inspiring autobiographic “thriller”: “Swimming to Antarctica”. The title is slightly misleading, because in this book she recounts most or even all of her important and historic swims – from the Channel world record swim in 1972 to her swim of the Millennium: crossing the 40°F Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia during the Cold War in 1987. Including the incredible story about her Cook Strait crossing, where dolphins came to help her when conditions got so bad she was about to give up. It is all about absolute dedication, determination, vision, self-transcendence and a deep awareness of the oneness of humanity.
A friend from Seattle had sent me a copy of the book with a signed personal note from Lynne (we have only met on Facebook so far, as part of the open water swimming community). I realised I could have met her in 1987 in New York, where she was celebrated after her world-changing feat – only we were so caught up in the launch of the first edition of what has become the World Harmony Run since then. It is great to see, however, how the ideal of a global world family is persued and expressed in so many different ways. Hope you will hold the Harmony Run torch one day, Lynne – in case you come to read this!
As to reading the book – absolutely recommend to anyone who is into the spirit of breaking barriers – you do not have to be a swimmer to get carried away and inspired by it!
Since last September, my swim training has been pretty reduced, but I put on some more weight, without much effort, and was happy to find that running is still possible at 85 kg (my weight of 1985, last year it was only 77 kg) – although it may be easier in winter than in scorching heat in summer, but now my first and foremost goal is the Channel – the rest will work somehow. I am trying to acclimatise better to cold water this year and plan to use the Neckar and a nearby lake quite a bit more.
A dip in the Neckar on Jan. 11, 2009
Today, pool training started, with a view to participate in the 12 hour indoor swimming event in Zurich on March 1st.
Welcome to my new Channel-Triathlon Blog for 2009. To find out what happened in 2008, please visit my old blog.
The White Cliffs of Dover seen from the French Coast – looking so close! But….