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: http://dailynews.openwaterswimming.com/2015/08/chloe-mccardel-becomes-4-to-go-3.html HUGE CONGRATULATIONS!
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
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.