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Dover Training Week 12 - dealing with uncertainty


Dover Training Week 12 - dealing with uncertainty

Emma France

As I mentioned last week, training is not just about time in the water. We also introduce new learning and experiences. Sometimes subtly, sometimes less so. Following on from deep water & fast feeding with minimal treats from last weekend, this weekend we introduced different uncertainty. No longer was it about whether you would get a treat, but when would you be getting out! You already have a little uncertainty as we don’t share the plan before the day, but generally when you get in the water you are aware of how long you will be in for when you do get in. Not this weekend! Not for soloists anyway.

On the big day, if you’re doing a relay you know how long each stint is, though you don’t know how many stints you will have. On a solo you know you have one stint, but you don’t know how long that stint will be. I’ve noticed how some people struggle with the uncertainty of the build up to the big day, aptly named the Dovercoaster by MJ. To deal with it they do the things they can’t control with great precision. However much you compensate in this way, you still don’t know how long your swim will be. That said, some prolific swimmers tend to have very predictable times, most of us mere mortals will accept success with time being a secondary consideration.

Anyway, the lesson of the weekend was going in the water without knowing how long you’d be swimming for (just like the big day). I was super impressed by just how well you accepted it. Some of you were told ‘this is your last feed’, some of you just found out that ‘you can get out now’.



Our theme this weekend was Hawaii. It was lovely to welcome so many regulars and visiting swimmers alike. It’s always lovely when overseas swimmers start arriving for their big day. More new faces to meet, new stories to hear, new friends to track.

Let’s just pretend that the downpour at the beginning of Saturday was a tropical storm - then we’re still on theme! It was lovely when the sun came out though, Sunday was gorgeous in the end, even if the water was a little bumpy (great training).

Future themes

If you want to join in the fun, here are some upcoming themes:

  • 27th & 28th July: Love & friendship week - we really should celebrate what an incredible group we are. Friendships formed on this beach can and do last a lifetime.

  • 3rd & 4th August: Our much loved Swiss week. This is the weekend that the Lake Zurich Marathon swim takes place. So get your lederhosen and Toblerone ready!



Daylight on Saturday

Swimmers:   38
Water temperature: 17.3C
Air temperature:   17.5C
Conditions: Rainy to start, increasing windy and choppy conditions

Swimmers:   47
Water temperature:   17.7C
Air temperature: 20.7C
Conditions:   Sunny, flat to start, increasingly choppy & windy through the day

So far we have registered:

  • 83 Solo swimmers

  • 44 Relay swimmers

  • 36 Just for Fun swimmers

  • 77 Aspire swimmers

  • 105 Drop-in swimmers

There are 31 swimmers who have applied and will be approved subject to a successful assessment swim.

Please note that if you would like to sign-up for solo, relay or just for fun subscriptions, I am now offering a 50% discount on the full fee. Whilst this doesn't show on the website or membership system, it will be applied at the point that payment is requested.

If you have elected to be a drop-in swimmer, please can you ensure that you pay before you swim. The fee is £7 with feeds, £4 for relay training or solo without feeding and £3 for a short recreational swim. Cash or card is accepted.

If you have already paid and haven’t yet collected your card, please collect from the beach crew on your next visit and attach it to the outside of your swim bag. For those who do assessment swims, you’ll be able to collect your card, once paid, the following weekend.

If you haven’t joined us yet and still plan to, the online declaration can be found here.

No declaration, no swim, no exception.


Channel swimmer on the beach

Aliens invade

Congratulations to the following swimmers on their swims this week:

  • Steve Henigan for his EC solo in a time of 11 hours 58 minutes on 16th July on Sea Leopard

  • Michael Jennings for his EC solo in a time of 12:38 on 16th July on High Hopes

  • Vicki Carter for her EC solo in a time of 14 hours 40 minutes on 16th July on Anastasia. Vicky got blown out the last time she trained - 11 years ago. That’s a lot of patience!

  • Aspire Panthers for their EC relay in 13 hours 8 minutes on 16th July on Optimist.

  • Ashleigh Seymour for her EC solo in 21 hours and 8 minutes on 18th July on Gallivant

It’s been another wonderfully busy week of achievements, if I missed calling out your swim, I’m so, so sorry!! We would have been tracking and cheering. Please call out your achievement.

Well done to all the other successful swimmers of the week. We’ve been cheering you all on.

If you swam this week and you didn’t fulfil your dream yet, chin up. Learn what you need to learn and come and chat about a new plan. Perhaps the best is yet to come. #Daretobelieve

Next week looks set to be yet another exciting week of tracking familiar DCT faces - good luck to all of you. We’re with you all the way. #TeamDCT


Stand out swims

Most of the 7 & 6 swimmers

This weekend I’d like to call our the following stand out swims:

  • Kirill Miryanov, Adam Stokes & Scott Rodger for their challenging 7 & 6 weekend

  • Nicola Naunton for her 6 & 6 weekend

  • Anel Sytdykova for opting to stay in for longer than requested both days on a challenging weekend.

  • Paul Robinson for 8 hours in his first session back for 7 years!


Volunteers - thank you


Thank you to all the people who volunteered this weekend.

  • Saturday Jon Southey, Claire Russell with support from Paul and everyone else who helped at feeds

  • Sunday Jon Southey, Catherine Stefanutti with support from Paul, MJ, Mikey, Keith, Frederique and everyone else who helped at feeds

If you can spare a day, please sign-up here.



Looking ahead

Future disrupted sessions:

Sunday 4th August (Dover Town Regatta). The swim zone will be suspended. We are likely to do another 3am start, and this will be confirmed nearer the time. On this date there will be no parking available along the seafront.


Saturday 28th September this will be our end of season BBQ - save the date!

October visit to the landing sites. Paul has volunteered to coordinate this day, feel free to get in touch with him if you’d like to help with this. It’s a fun day where we visit a number of the sites where people land their swims and then enjoy a lunch in France. It’s a brilliant way to round off the season.

There will be additional safety measures in place for all swims that involve an element in the dark, so attending the briefing is mandatory for all swimmers. You will be required to wear at least one light (battery operated adventure lights, not chemical ones). If you need them, I sell them on the beach, but please buy them before the swim, selling stuff in the dark on the beach at 2.30am isn’t my idea of fun.


Level Water

Level water 1.png

It was delightful to welcome Ian and Mark from Level Water, a charity that I am proud to be an ambassador for. You may have noticed their logo on your membership cards.

Here are a few words from Ian, CEO at Level Water:

We visited Dover today to tell you about Morgan - the disabled six year-old who couldn’t swim, jumping off the 3-metre diving board. Our charity is called Level Water and last year we provided 15,000 one-to-one swimming lessons for disabled children. I believe in the power of sport, and I believe every child should have a great start in sport.

A few weeks after Morgan, I met Joshua - he was eight and has very limited mobility in one arm and one leg. He uses a powered wheelchair and I was struck by how passive he was; he is used to waiting for help. We got him into the water, his teacher laid him on his back and asked if he could kick and pull a bit. She supported him and walked backwards with him - then she let go.

Joshua kept kicking, but started sinking. Ears went under, then cheeks, goggles and finally his nose. His teacher looked closely but didn’t touch him. There was a bit more splash - then he kicked his way back to the surface and took a big breath. And we all breathed again too!

Afterwards I asked his teacher how she knew not to help; what she saw in him. She simply said:


And that’s why we do what we do.

If you have a big challenge this year and might be able to support us, it will make an immediate difference to the number of children we can teach. We are a small charity with a big reach - a team of three of us are aiming to provide weekly lessons for 600 children across 100 swimming pools next year. We pay as little as £5 per lesson, so any level of support makes a huge difference.

To find out more, please ask Emma France or email

Thank you, and have a great summer of swimming,



Emma’s corner

Be a domino

Gary Keller and Jay Papasan wrote a highly-recommended business book called The One Thing. It contains information about the domino theory which states that a domino can knock over another domino up to 1.5x its size.

In the book, it uses this theory to help you understand how to achieve huge goals that you have no idea how you’ll achieve. Using the domino theory, if you work back from a wildly audacious goal, you can see how it can be achieved if you just start with what you CAN do and work up from there. Place a small domino, say, swimming to your next feed down first and knock that down/achieve that goal, then move to the next. You can use the maths of 1.5x for the next goal, or double, or whatever works. In not too many steps you’ve achieved a channel swim and some.

We often just think about the big domino, but spend no time thinking about what all of the dominoes that lead up to that huge goal are. There’s no way you can knock a domino the size of the empire state building over on your own, but if you start with a regular size domino and add a few behind it that are 1.5x the one before it, you get this:


But it doesn’t just have to be about ever bigger dominos or achieving everything at once. Dominos don’t try to knock over everything at once, they don’t think about a whole channel swim. In fact, if they do, they usually fall flat and don’t achieve it. They can max out at knocking over 2 or 3 other dominos. That’s about all one domino can really handle.

But that’s not why people find domino world records or big displays of dominos impressive. Nobody watches a domino setup to watch 1 domino knock over 1, 2 or even 3 other dominos. Wouldn’t that be an anticlimax?! It would only take a fraction of a second.

People watch domino setups to see the effect that knocking over 1 domino has on another and then another and then another – a thousand times over. It’s the consecutive nature of one domino after the other that’s the real show. That’s what people come to watch.

So be a domino. Focus on the one small thing that you need to do right now and do it well.

I lay many dominos out for you, progressively teaching you all the things that you need to know in order for you to get to the start of your big event physically and mentally capable of fulfilling your domino role.

Be a domino.

Do the one thing you’re supposed to do. Maybe that is swim from feed to feed.

Knock over the next domino.

Your dominoes have a different role to mine. Sometimes they may fall in a different way (weather, tides etc), but you can’t control what they do. All you can control is you.

Do the one thing you’re supposed to do.

Knock over the next domino.

Then stand back & watch the domino effect happen. Watch that channel solo or relay build to success, one domino at a time.


It has been my absolute pleasure to work with some of you outside of weekend training. For some of you that has been around crafting a training plan when your schedule makes it difficult to make the most of what is on offer in Dover.

For others it’s hypnosis that is what you want. Finally, where there are multiple and complex issues to work through which may or may not relate to your swim, a breakthrough session is the difference that will make a difference.

I’m here to support you in the way that you need.

If you’re curious and would like to discuss further, feel free to schedule a free initial 30 minute consultation. I am available on Fridays from my base in Surrey. Some evenings from Surrey or Cambridge (depends where my other job has me on that night) and sometimes on a Saturday late afternoon in Dover. Most of what I can offer can be supported face to face or via Zoom (video conferencing).

My calendar is filling up fast, so if this is something that you’re interested in, you can find out a bit more at Emma2France or contact me via email or phone.



A few photos captured at the weekend.

See you next week!!


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