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!
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
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.
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!
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.
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?