Thursday, August 7, 2008

More Photos (by Mallory)

Boating to the start

Light Stick on my butt.....made me feel like a stripper.

Grease Application

Hilltopper Pride

Sitting on the Boat is Hard Work

And Again....


Did I mention Clara goes to MIT?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My Father's Perspective (by Mallory)

Below is an email my father sent out to his mailing list that shows his perspective on the swim. I am sharing it with you all now.

At the start of her swim, Mallory, fighting the swells that occur next to shore was swimming at a 80 stroke per minute rate. Once clear of the coast (hour into the swim) she slowed a bit to around 70. Never during the 10 hrs and 14 minutes did she drop below 68, even with the pain.

There were about four other swimmers starting close to the same time, one swimmer (from Brazil) started about 45-60 minutes before her. During prep time, Keith (the Channel Observer) kept repeating that "this is not a race". During a feeding,three hours into the swim, after leaving the others behind, and passing the guy from Brazil (who later was pulled after 4 hrs because of the cold, and I think perhapse from Mallory blowing by him, sorry about that) Keith commented, "Mallory, you are doing great! to which she responded, with a smile, "who says it isnt a race?"

In order to conserve heat, Mallory did not kick until the last 40 minutes of the swim. Longest pull set in history.

I know my daughter, I know her stroke. Seven hours into the swim, I KNEW she was really hurting. With feedings every hour(energy gels), and drink every half hour I kept track with my watch, in order to conserver heat, we tried to keep the stops around 30 seconds, for drink, a minute for feedings. But for the final three hours I could not look at her in the water. I basically did the feedings then went back and set down, with my back to the water, covered my head with my rain poncho and thought "warm water, warm water" and "why did I allow her to talk me into this"over and over again until the next stop. The longest, most agonizing three hours of my life. I knew she wouldnt stop, no matter what, as the night before the swim she confided in me. "I sure hope I make it, I dont want to let everyone down."

Our crew and observer were the best! While all the pilots are great (there are only six certified pilots) our observer, Keith, was absolutely a gem. He talked to us all during the day, with stories of peoples wins and defeats. and called like 15 people on his cell phone after Mal finished. (The association people are as excited as we are when someone makes it) During the finish, our Pilot Fred, jumped into his small dingy about a thousand yards from shore. Standing up in the middle and rowing with small powerful strokes, he escored Mallory into the finish, and YELLED into his radio when she cleared water. Music to my ears. (Mallory told me later, she wondered if she would need to slow up for him to keep up, was not a problem at all. I told Fred I could tell he had rowed that boat a few times.) Fred is about the oldest pilot stationed at Folkestone, all the local kids call him Granddad. When asked about it, he said, "I'm not their grandad! Have you ever seen their grandma?" LOL

When Mallory was about 500 yards from shore, I called my mother on my cell. After talking to her for a few mintues, about how her cats were doing. I said. "Mom, I am calling you from just off the coast of France. Mallory is about to finish" I then proceeded to keep her on the line until Fred announced the end of the swim over the radio. I am so glad I thought to do this.

After she finished I walked around the boat, thanking them all for their help. Fred says to me, "dont thank paid for it!" then smiled, and I could tell he was quite pleased.

Dave Bennett (Claras dad) was an absolute ace on deck... Always quick to offer help/advice. Never pushy or concered if I didnt take it. Mallory told me later. "Dave is the one person I noticed the most on the boat."

Mallory had said that after this swim she was going to retire. When she got back into the boat, I went to her, and as she laid there I said, "Mallory, I dont know if you are going to retire or not, but I cannot ever do this again, I am absolutely retireing from being your support person" She replied, "dont worry dad I AM retiring"

During her swim around Manhattan Island (28 miles, 7 hrs and 44 minutes) four years ago. We took our time during feedings. In fact during one stop I handed her a water proof camera, and she swam over and took a few photos of the underside of the Brooklyn Bridge.That WAS a race, Mallory finished 4th overall. During Claras Channelswim, I mentioned to her, " You know Mal, I think if we had done the feedings like this during the Manhattan marathon, I think you could have won that race (as the winning woman, took her feedings right from her support kayak, did not even go over to the support boat). to which Mallory replied, "yeah, I was just thinking that". Dave Bennett says to us as he glances at his watch. "Total time of retirement, just under 36 hours."

While talking to everyone back on shore after the swim. I was describing the finish, and how excited and relieved I was. Clara's mom said to me, "did you cry?" I looked her in the eye and confessed. "Like a baby."

Thank you all for your support. Thank you all for putting up with all the updates. Now I need to go answer the 293 emails I received at work while we were gone.


Day in Dover (by Mallory)

There is a Mecca for Channel swimmers, and it’s called Dover. Of course the main attraction is the harbor, but for the elite there is The White Horse Pub (white horse is a nickname for “white caps” or waves). You see, when someone successfully crosses the channel, they get to marker their name to pub’s interior (walls or ceiling) and whatever wisdom they would like impart on the pub’s clientele, which consists largely of channel swimmers and regulars who know all about the channel swimmers.

So the day started with a trip to Dover Castle Clara and her family left early in the morning, and my family and I left later in the day. The Castle trip started with a “20 minute steady walk” from the bus stop which is neither 20 minutes nor what I call steady. As my dad put it “20 minute steady walk, if you’re part mountain goat.” The castle is situated on the highest point in Dover, looking out over the channel and protecting it from invaders as it has done for 1000 or so years. It’s features vary in time period as it was constantly being adapted for the new warfare. There is a Roman lighthouse, a medieval tunnel system, a castle fit for a king, and another tunnel system originally built for the Napoleonic Wars and later converted into an underground military base for WWII on up to the cold wars. It was very interesting and I highly recommend it to anyone, especially history buffs. After we finished exploring the vast acreage of Dover Castle, we headed over to the White Horse to do the deed.

When I walked through the door of the White Horse, it was almost overwhelming. There were literally hundreds of names written on the walls and ceilings. I saw short entries with just a name, date, time, and place of origin, and I saw longer entries with multiple attempts, dedications, and observations (such as “Cold? My willy has never been so small!”) Some wrote big and took up more than their share. Some wrote small and were definitely the more interesting ones. As I stood there in awe, an American woman turned to me and said, “So, what was your time?” It felt really good to be in the company of someone just as crazy as I was. The woman, I learned, was Marcy MacDonald, a doctor from Connecticut that has 9 crossings to her credit, including 3 doubles. She was the first American woman to succeed at a double crossing. I immediately fell into conversation with her about all things channel swimming. As we were talking, I was scanning the walls and ceiling for “my spot.” I felt as though it were a very important decision and settled on a small part of paint lining a wooden ceiling beam. I figured there was plenty of room and it was somewhere between the horizontal and vertical surface. It would definitely be seen, as it was located just above the bar. Just as I was about to grab the marker and put my name in the spot, I reconsidered. It was such a small space and what if I wanted to come back? There would be no room to put my additional crossings. I think that this thought was the official end of my retirement from open water swimming (although Dave Bennett places it much earlier, when I was crewing on Clara’s boat). I found a new spot, larger, and close to the bar on the ceiling, and I wrote this:

Mallory Mead – Indiana
10 hrs 34 mins
“Never Again?”

When I swam the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in 2004, I met another lady who had swam the English Channel. I also proclaimed after that swim that I would never do this ever again. I will never forget what she told me.

“Open water swimming is like having a baby. It hurts so bad you swear you’ll never do it again, but then you forget and you do anyway.”