Looking back at August
Someone once told me that life is like a toilet roll (stay with me here) - the closer you get to the end, the faster it disappears! Well I hope that’s wrong as weeks and months are disappearing fast at the moment! How was July for you? Relaxing, holidays and chance to recharge the batteries? Work? Studying? I’d love to hear from you.
Dover Channel Training
What an incredible month we’ve had with Dover Channel Training, like last month I thought it would be useful to show a summary of the dreams that became reality for swimmers this month:
26 x English Channel solos
10 x English Channel relays
5 x Windermere solo
4 x Catalina Channel solos
3 x Jersey to France solo
1 x Lake Zurich solo
1 x 2 Way Windermere solo
1 x Arch to Arc solo (no wetsuit)
1 x Arch to Arc solo (with a wetsuit)
1 x 2 person wetsuit English Channel relay
1 x Escape from Alcatraz solo swim
1 x Loch Ness relay
1 x Loch Lomond Relay
1 x Round Jersey Relay
Wow!!! Naturally, with a sport like this there are no guarantees of success. Sometimes things go wrong outside of our control and sometimes we face feedback that we didn’t necessarily want, but do need. Our success is deferred for another day. Fortunately the disappointments have been few and far between.
Our group is statistically more successful than the average overall success rate. Why is that? I’d like to think that the way I structure training, both physical and the subtle mindset training has a significant impact. I also suspect that those who are more likely to be destined for success are those who take training seriously and turn up regularly to a group like this.
I take training very seriously. That doesn’t mean that I have to take life seriously. We theme each weekend in Dover, sometimes for a bit of fun and sometimes to introduce some subtle mindset training. These have been our themes this month:
Week 14 - Swiss week (to coincide with the annual Lake Zurich swim)
Week 15 - California dreaming (in support of three swimmers taking on Catalina channel)
Week 16 - Bay watch
Week 17 - Jersey as some of our swimmers take on Jersey related swims
Week 18 - Cats & mice (while the cat’s away, the mice will play!)
Sink or Swim
Last month I alluded to a project that I’ve been involved in but couldn’t share details about at that point. Well now that project is in the public domain!
Back in April I received a call from TwoFour Productions about a concept for a reality show taking non-swimming celebrities and training them to the point where they are able to take on a channel relay - this year! I was asked endless questions about the sport and my opinion as to whether I thought it was a good idea and even possible.
I did think it was possible (#DareToBelieve) and I put the production company in touch with SwimQuest for training support and my pilot to talk all things pilot support, weather, tides etc. Fast forward and eleven celebrities were selected in June (I hadn’t appreciated there would be a two month delay!!) and started training.
These celebrities come from a variety of backgrounds with one common denominator - they don’t swim! Some had near drowning experiences. Some didn’t swim because it wasn’t in their culture to do so for various reasons.
The line up:
Linford Christie OBE - the only British man to have won gold medals in 100 metres at Olympic Games, World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games.
Sair Khan - Coronation Street actress
Alex Brooker - comedian from The Last Leg
James ‘Arg’ Argent - TOWIE star
Georgia Kousoulou - TOWIE star
Simon Webbe - Blue singer
Wes Nelson - Love Island
Rachel Adedeji - Hollyoaks actress
Diane Louise Jordan - TV presenter
Tessa Sanderson CBE - Javelin and Heptathlon - Gold medal in 1984 Olympics and has competed at a staggering six olympics. She was the first black British woman to win an Olympic gold medal
Greg Rutherford MBE - Long Jump - won Gold at Olympics, World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games
Two of the four episodes have now aired. Have you watched them?
I am blessed to have remained involved in this phase. I’d have loved to have been able to be one of the full time coaches, but my other commitments prevented that. I have been involved in some of the training weekends though and have enjoyed those an awful lot. Not only that but I’ve been incredibly impressed by the celebrities: their attitudes and application. What you see on TV is a poor representation of how lovely they really are. Just like you and me, these are people with dreams and hopes. These are people with fears and concerns. Unlike you and me, when they take on a challenge like this, every last flaw and personal barrier is portrayed on screen.
By the end of August episode 1 had been aired. This showed the very low starting point for the 11 celebrities. It is all to play for. I remained off screen for this episode but was involved in their first venture out to sea. I was part of the safety team.
The day was wet, very, very wet. My waterproofs were not able to keep me dry! Here are a few behind the scenes photos:
I also had the joy of coaching Linford Christie for a session in the pool. Not only was Linford a non-swimmer in June, he’s a sprinter. He spent his sporting career going flat out for a few seconds and then having a lot of rest. Anything over 11 seconds and he was spent. Being an endurance swimmer is very, very different to that. 11 seconds wouldn’t even get him to the end of the pool! What was also interesting is the people like you or I would naturally slow down when we get tired - a natural response. He’s trained himself over the years to speed up. That’s a real complication when you’re trying to develop an all day endurance pace.
He may have learned a bit from me, I also learned a lot from him. A couple of things that he said to me will stay with me. He talked about when he won gold at the Olympics and how he wasn’t actually the fastest person in the line up, but that the race was actually won or lost in the call room. Interesting. I guess the same is true in many other walks of life - how our beliefs can lead to the outcome that we get.
What about what I’ve been up to?
The biggest thing to happen this month is my youngest daughter, Lauren, heading off to college in the USA. I am immensely proud of her. She worked hard to get herself to the position where she could tour various US colleges in search of a basketball scholarship and she secured one. She’ll be studying in Brunswick, Georgia. I know that I wasn’t mature enough to do that as the same age.
Life continues to be busy and will stay like that until the end of the channel swimming season at least. Last month I mentioned that two of my scheduled three channel relays have been blown out. We are still waiting for both. It feels like non of them will ever happen and I suspect there will be a sudden flurry of activity and I’ll wonder why I ever doubted!
Still, whilst I continue to wait for my challenges, my partner, Paul, completed his first marathon swim in August. He swam from Jersey to France. That’s a very big event for a first adventure into marathon swimming. It is 14 nautical miles from Jersey to France and it took him 11 hours and 7 minutes.
Rest and relaxation
Paul swimming early in his window meant that we had a week long break still to enjoy. Fatigue continues to be a challenge so I did a lot of resting, boy did I need it!
Pay it forwards
The other fun thing I was involved in during August was a volunteering day. A few colleagues and I went to a school and performed a few tasks. I was mostly involved with clearing a pond. When we got there it was so over grown you couldn’t see there was a pond there, let alone water! It was a lot of hard work and very rewarding.
Here’s to an amazing September - one of successes and new learnings!