Monday, July 21, 2008

The Princess and the Monkfish (By Mallory)

So today I got to meet my boater, Fred Mardle. He is a very nice English fisherman who resides in Folkestone and has been taking channel swimmers out since the 60s. He told me that when he first started taking swimmers out, the going rate was 60 BP (1BP= $2.12) which is a far cry from the 2,000 or so BP that is currently the rate. Makes me wish I would have swum it back then, you know, the year my mother was born.

I talked to him about a variety of things, including channel grease, light sticks (I will most likely start in the dark) weather, tides, etc. A couple of times he pulled out the tide chart and would say things like “See, these are good tides” or “See, these are bad tides.” I wasn’t really sure what I was looking at and would just nod in agreement. After all, I have to trust that after all these years, he knows what he is doing, right?

He told me that he just had a swimmer that had to reschedule his swim for later in the summer, because weather was not permitting for him to make an attempt. I really hope that this is not the case for me. It’s all the luck of the draw.

Clara’s father found an interesting blog from another girl that just attempted (and finished) a channel crossing. Apparently as she was finishing, she swam until she could swim no more and went to stand up on the French coast. However, as she had been swimming for 12 hours at that point, she passed out….in 6 inches of water. Her crew came and got her out of the water and she was okay. After that the only concern was legality. Channel Swimming Association rules state that a swimmer must exit the water until there is no more water beyond. Should she or should she not be disqualified? After much deliberation, the CSA ruled in her favor, which makes me very relieved. I would hope that if I labored away for 26 nautical miles and STOOD UP on French soil that it would count.

Speaking of, I have of late being telling people who ask that there are two conditions on which I will be getting out of the water. The first, obviously, is victory. The second, less obviously, is death. My mother didn’t like the second option too much, so I assured her that I will shoot for victory. However, on careful consideration I have added one more condition. Monkfish. While in London we passed a Fishmonger (endorsed by the Queen of England and the Prince of Whales, of course) that had a fish that stood out from the others. With its mouth full of poorly maintained teeth, it is a force to be reckoned with. It piqued my interest, so I started asking the fishmonger about it. He informed me that this ugly fish, the monkfish, resides in the waters of the English Channel. The thought made me shudder. So here he is, for your viewing pleasure, a monkfish.

I think that if I happen to run in to a monkfish, I may invoke condition three and get out of the water. But not really. Really I would just punch him in the ugly face and swim away before he even knows what happened. But again, not really, that would be cruel. The most realistic scenario would be that I stay on the surface of the water, and the monkfish stay on the bottom. That way, everyone is happy.

I’ve noticed that not kicking during swimming has kept my core warmer, which was the goal. Although my legs are so cold they go numb, my core feels nice and normal (not quite toasty) and I can swim without getting abdominal convulsions which was the case during my Boston swim. Also, I think the extra fat is helping. I'm sticking to my non-diet, and the fish and chips are helping. By the time the fish and chips come you realize that you just ordered a pound of lard to go with your fish and your fries.

Now it is late, and I am going to bed. Sweet dreams, monkfish.


Chris Pountney said...


I've been following your blog for a while now. I'm swimming myself in September and just wanted to wish you good luck.

Also, I was a support swimmer for a guy who swam a couple of weeks ago with Fred Mardle (he was the guy who missed his intitial tides incidently). Fred was an excellent pilot, BUT he has an old-style fishing boat. It is not very comfortable and there is nowhere to lie down except for on the deck, which got very very wet, especially on the way back. I would recommend you try to find a way to create something to lie on for when you are finished and the journey home, maybe a lilo and sleeping bag or lots of waterproofs. Just so you can lie on the deck and not get wet.

Good luck, I'm sure you will do great


Mallory said...

Thanks for the good wishes! Also, thank you for the advice. We are scrambling to get an airbed. Good luck on your swim.