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!
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:
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.