A little over two months ago the Aspire Sea Eagles became the first relay team to successfully cross the English Channel in 2017. The sea state was pretty horrible, the sea was a chilly 12 degrees and it took us 16 hours from setting off to reach the beach in France. I'd trained for it for months, pretty much thrown out my brand new wetsuit I'd bought the season before after swearing to only swim in skins going forward and spent the boat ride back from France thinking 'I really want to do that again'...
Fast forward 5 days, one phone call later, and I was suddenly an Aspire Jellyfish, standing in for someone who had dropped out, with a swim date at the end of August.
This time round I got to play the dreaded channel waiting game, every day waiting for the call to say you were swimming, checking the weather and wind forecasts religiously. The first three days the weather was terrible, strong winds, rain, and no sign of it giving up. A day later we got the call to say we could swim the following morning and the weather was looking alright. I drove down to Dover in a thunder and lightning storm, pouring rain and the words so many people had said to me going through my head... 'why are you doing it again, won't you regret it if you don't make it, this will ruin your first swim'. Well... Here's what I learnt about channel swimming take 2:
1) Trust the boat pilot. Four hours before we left Dover was treating me to a spectacular thunder and lightning storm. All I know is lightning and water shouldn't be mixed and I was starting to wonder if we would get turned away at the marina when we met to swim. The boat ride round to the beach was choppy, we changed starting beaches last minute. Pretty much bang on the dot of when we started the weather changed, the wind dropped and the sea state calmed.
2) No channel crossing is the same. This time round the weather was glorious, there was barely any tide and there were a few hours that felt like we were on a Greek boat cruise. It took us 11 hours and 21 minutes, and it was amazing!
3) The English Channel is full of sealife... The Aspire Jellyfish must have scared away all the Jellyfish as we saw barely any this time and none of us got stung but we did have a seal join us for part of the swim. Add to that the porpoise and the shark from channel swim take 1 and there's most of the aquatic life ticked off!
4) The ships in the shipping lane are really REALLY large and they look even bigger when you're in the water, look up, and see a ship in front of you. Complete trust is put in the boat pilot to get your safely across the busiest shipping lane in the world!
5) Don't ever turn down an opportunity you get given, don't be afraid of failure, and don't listen to other people (unless their idea is a good idea... then listen to it).