Mission accomplished!(at least for this year)

Mission accomplished!(at least for this year)

Satellite tracker of our pilot boat Anastasia, 4 person relay Sept. 30th

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

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)

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, swimmers and helpers

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)

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.

Hopeful

Hopeful

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

Dover beach - with Channel aspirants 2010 in background

Start of the Tide tonight – and waiting

Start of the Tide tonight – and waiting

Wednesday morning, Sept. 23rd:

Abhejali and Zuzka - getting Maxim from Freda

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

Meeting Chloe after her swim on the beach

Swim Map of Lisa Cummins' amazing double crossing

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.

Fat – but I might need it soon …

Fat – but I might need it soon …

I am fat!

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

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)

Karteek did it again – his 10th crossing – article by UK Scotsman Online

Karteek did it again – his 10th crossing – article by UK Scotsman Online

Karteek in Dover Marina a few years ago

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.

https://news.scotsman.com/scotland/-Businessman-hails-yoga-after.5571971.jp

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
another try.

“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)