The White Cliffs of Dover….
My first view of the White Cliffs of Dover, it takes my breath away, they blast upwards from the sea, I am amazed by how high they are, they dominant the landscape and can be seen from miles away, that is why the swimmers who have gone before me pass down the same advice time and time again, ” don’t look back, the white cliffs of Dover will never disappear”, sound advice indeed.
I stop by the Battle of Britain Memorial which is nearby, it over looks the Channel, in 1940 Hitler was launching massive attacks to gain the airborne superiority it needed, it is said that he and his highest ranking officers would stand on the French coast and look towards the White Cliffs of Dover, what he didn’t anticipate was that fewer than 3000 Englishmen, including 600 from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Ireland and many other countries would stand firm day after day protecting England and eventually force Germany to abandon plans of invasion, those White Cliffs must have been taunting Hitler as England prevailed.
Back at my trailer, my home for the next 14 days I go about unpacking my gear and the groceries I have picked up from the store, I landed at 7:30am this morning and am forcing myself to stay up until 9:30pm tonight, a guarantee of a good night’s sleep and slotting into my new time zone. My plan is to join the Dover Channel swimmers at 9am tomorrow morning for my first Dover Harbor swim.
I awake at 7:00am, the rain is teaming on the roof of the trailer, I pull the covers up, for a brief moment I think about staying in bed, ” after all you have just arrived”, I say to myself and quickly add, ” what are you new around here? You never bag out of a swim”, and with that I jump up, pull on my suit, warm clothes and my rain jacket, I down some porridge and am out the door, I am excited to see Dover Harbor, a 10 minute drive and there it is, just as I imagined….
The sky looks grim, as I pull up to park I notice two familiar faces, Bryn and Sarah who were at Cork Distance week in Ireland are parked in front of me, suddenly the skies brighten, I am happy….
Dover Harbor Swim
Bryn introduces me to Freda, “the General”, she clasps my hand tightly and welcomes me, we get our caps, goggles and air plugs situated and head down to the water, Sarah gives me tips on where to swim, ” stay near the red hats”, she says, I nod and busy myself with finding out what and where the red hats are.
In we go, I am anxious to feel the water, ” will this feel like the jaw clenching cold Irish waters, or the silky smooth tempid summer Vermont waters I have just left?”, I ponder the question as I dive under and swim, the water feels somewhere in between, it feels good. I swim 2 hours and get out, I say farewell and thankyou to the Dover beach crew, then head off to shower.
On the way back to my trailer I stop by Dover Marina, this is where the boat SUVA, is docked and near where my pilot Neil Streeter will pick me and the crew up, I take a few moments to look around…..
Then off rest up, tomorrow another trip to swim in Dover Harbor with Freda and the Dover training group, the water temperature was 62 degrees today, it was very windy, good practice for me being jostled about.
Closing Thought: Never look back