For all of you who will be wondering…..I will not be swimming on Friday.
The good news is that the weather is looking good for the weekend, possibly some rain, but my crew has rain gear and I’ll be swimming anyway. The winds were pretty high today at 14 mph (which made our training swim interesting) but they will be down to 5 mph on Saturday and slightly high on Sunday.
I had a really good day today. Clara and I and our fathers took the harrowing (harrowing that is, if you are an American driving in England in a stick shift euro-car) trip from Folkestone over to Dover for a variety of reasons. One was that we put in an order for two batches of channel grease. The other reason is that I wanted to see this Dover Harbor for myself and meet a few fellow channel swimmers in the process. You see, most channel swimmers stay in Dover and swim in the harbor. Clara and I elected to stay in nearby Folkestone, mainly for financial reasons, but it is really going to work out well for us. For one, the Folkestone swim area isn’t a sheltered harbor like the Dover swim area, allowing us to experience the ocean in her full temperamental glory. Also, I am guessing that a sheltered harbor could be a couple of degrees warmer than the rest of the channel. Lastly, both of our support boats are docked in Folkestone harbor, so the morning of the swim we will be able to sleep a little longer, cut out a little travel stress, and make the whole thing go a little smoother.
Like I said, one thing we wanted to do while in Dover was to meet a couple of channel swimmers, and that we did. In fact, I just happened to meet Pete, the man who is was supposed to go out with my boater Fred today or tomorrow. Obviously, Pete didn’t want to fight the 14 mph winds, and since Friday isn’t looking good either, he is rescheduling for possibly Monday or Tuesday. I also met a whole group of swimmers from India who have been in Dover since June and are scheduled to swim in August. Apparently the Indian climate isn’t conducive to cold acclimation. I also ran into Julie Bradshaw, the secretary for the Channel Swimming Association and the holder of the Channel Butterfly record. For each of them I asked “any last minute advice?” This is what I found out.
1. Don’t look at France. It never seems to get any closer and it will depress you.
2. Don’t look at England. It never seems to get any farther away and it will depress you.
3. Imagine your finish the entire time you are swimming. I will imagine myself jumping up and down in joy (with my last bit of energy).
4. Don’t think about that four letter word that starts with a “c.” (Cold) Only think warm thoughts.
On a side note, I received a channel swim inquiry from this blog from P.H. Mullen, a Michiana man who swam the channel 13 years ago. He had heard about Clara and I and dropped us a little note of encouragement. This is what he had to say.
The advice is simple: Before you swim, stand in front of a mirror and promise yourself you won’t get out until you finish. Promise until your brain is sick of hearing it. Somewhere near the end of the swim that promise usually comes in handy.
I like to follow good advice, so I did. Last night, I spent a good hour and a half talking to myself. The last couple of days a little bit of doubt had crept into my mind, so I had a little bit of extra promising to do to myself. Here is what I promised.
I will not get out. I will not doubt myself. I will swim the English Channel.
As I was saying this I looked at my body and assured myself that this would all come true with THIS body, not a body with 20 lbs of extra fat for insulation. THIS body was all I needed, THIS body and my mental strength.
I must admit my mental strength is not all my own. A couple of weeks ago as I was practicing at the pool in Indianapolis and the thought popped into my head “I hope God is on my side for this swim.” I started worrying about it, wondering if this was all me and my selfish ways, after all I wasn’t hungry or hurt or suffering, and wondering if this was the type of thing that God concerns himself with. I finished my set and was on the wall long enough to strike up a conversation with a little old lady who got in to do a couple of laps beside me.
“Wow, you are amazing!” she said to me. “You are so strong, and so much stamina!”
“Well thank you,” I said. “I’m practicing to swim the English Channel.”
“That’s what I was wondering! That’s amazing!” she exclaimed.
That’s when the doubt set in my voice. “Well, I’m starting to get very nervous about it.”
Her face lit up. “Don’t be nervous! You have all the support you need! You have the support of your family, you have spiritual support. You will do great.”
Later, it hit me. Right as I was wondering if God was on my side, a lady that I had never met and that knew nothing about me decided to tell me that I had all the spiritual support that I needed. I call them like I see them and I refuse that as a coincidence. Not one person said that other than her, not before she said it and not since. That’s all the proof I need. She left as quickly as she came, gone before I even realized what I had just witnessed. God is on my side.
To cap off this post, I would like to give you some photos since we’ve been here. There’s a lot more that I will publish later, but these are the most relevant ones.
What I will be imagining as the finish.....minus Clara and my sister Calley, of course.
Folkestone Harbor, Low Tide (The reason you have to wait for high tide to start)