Swim to Shore
My body plunges beneath the surface, I kick to the surface, the water feels refreshing cool, I set my sights on the beach and swim in, I clumsily walk out of the water, the irregularly shaped round Dover Beach stones are painful to walk on, I walk over them like they are silky smooth sand, for my attention is on the stretch of water before me, The English Channel, finally I am here standing in front of her, ready to fight with all my might, it is a surreal moment, something that two and a half years ago was inconceivable and now is not only believable but right before my very eyes, I am thrilled.
When I started this journey in 2010 the thought of swimming 6 hours in 60 degree water to qualify to swim the English Channel was daunting, I did it. One year ago the thought of swimming 25 miles was daunting, I did it. Swimming for 15.5 hours, including swimming through the night a mere 10 months ago seemed a task that only a sub human could pull off, but last year I did it, I am ready to play this game of ” Channel Chess”, it is going to come down to navigating what she tosses at me. I inhale deeply and then excitedly lunge forward into here waters, game on….
In the water I go, I don’t do my usual dawdle into the water, usually I wade in waist deep, piddle about and after a bit dive under, not today I am right on it, I can’t wait to get going, once in the water I stick to my plan, I ” fang it”, in Kiwi that means attack with a vengeance, I know the English waters are the coldest, I have been told by many a Channel swimmer that this is the case, a Channel Observer gave me the low down just a few days ago, ” well you know the waters are colder on the English side, there are deep holes in the bottom of the Channel on the English side, the tidal waters surge into the deep holes and drive all the cold water up to the surface, you will feel it bone chillingly cold for 50 meters or more, but keep swimming, you will come out of it and hit a warm patch that is 1 degree warmer”, he told me with a wide and knowing grin, the warm patch he was talking about a balmy 61 degrees. Knowing I have a tall lanky lean frame I know I will have to swim hard to generate heat, into the cold Channel waters I go in attack mode, I swim hard and it feels great, this is what I have trained for, I make good progress and soon pull away from the White Cliffs of Dover, I am having the time of my life, ” Take it in Vermont Kiwi, you are swimming in the English Channel, enjoy the moment’, I tell myself and I do, this is fantastic, what a dream come true…..
Early Days in my swim, but still my impression is ” I LOVE the Channel, this is the best”, my speed is 2.71 miles per hour, progress is excellent and I feel like the luckiest Vermont Kiwi in the world
I’ll keep you posted
Closing Thought: If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it
– Andy Rooney