The alarm went off. It was 5:30am. It was a Saturday. Most people's alarms don't do that. Most people don't set their alarms at all at the weekend. Anyone with half an ounce of sense is doing their best to stay asleep before they have to confront the day ahead, hopefully with a well deserved hangover. In fact the only people that are supposed to start their day before dawn are farmers and deep sea fishermen. I double checked that I didn't have any fields to plough or nets to mend and soon realised that my adventures for the day were likely to involve a pair of budgy smugglers and a pot of vaseline.
I was heading to Weymouth for some boat practice with friend Marc "Otter" Newman. Marc is a former world champion swimmer and a veteran of 5 Channel solos and numerous relays. He's also swimming the Channel this year but taking an unconventional route from Dungeness. This will be a first as although it has been tried before nobody has ever made a successful crossing from Dungeness. You can read more about Marc's story on his website.
Past experiences with injuries have taught me to be careful and increase the distance of endurance training swims little by little each week so strictly speaking this should have been a 5 hour swim. But I've been training well during the week and sea conditions were excellent. I'd been hoping to get a six hour swim under my belt before May was out so when Marc suggested making it a 6 I didn't need much persuading.
We left Weymouth Marina just after 8am with Marc's coach and boatman Tom. We also had Marc's dad and Jo Fotheringham along to help out with feeding. I sat down to relax, looking forward to the trip out into the bay. I managed about 2 minutes of relaxation before I was told to jump over the side and start swimming. The hours ticked by and I completed three 2 hour loops in all, covering about 17km. Marc is a much faster swimmer than me and looped around me several times before charging off towards the horizon. Normally it would annoy me to get overtaken so easily but I don't feel too bad in this case bearing in mind Marc's ability and reputation. In fact it was a great day for me as I picked up lots of tips from Marc and from Tom. It's really good to get some constructive criticism as it shaped my training plan for the coming week.
My English Channel Solo swim is raising funds for Julia’s House, the Dorset and Wiltshire Children’s Hospices. They provide respite care and support to children with life-limiting conditions and their families through a dedicated team of community carers, nurses and other professionals. Julia’s House currently have a hospice in Bournemouth but have now secured funding and permissions to open another in Devizes which is expected to open in the autumn of 2017.
Please check out my Just Giving page.