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Marine Parade
Dover, CT16
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Training Week 14 - Team spirit at its best


Training Week 14 - Team spirit at its best

Emma France

What an incredible week. So many swims all over the world - it was a tracking frenzy!!

This weekend I was off helping swimmers in another part of the country and I am so grateful for those of you who stepped up to provide voluntary cover - you are such an amazing group, it’s like one huge (slightly dysfunctional at times) family. Not only did you do that, but you also provided welcoming committees to successful swimmers and also saw people off on their adventures.

It was strange being away, and lovely to see all the positive messages of support. You are an incredible team.

What also stood out for me from what I heard and what I saw in facebook posts showing those who overcame fears; and those who overcame demons - facing them head on and defeating them.

Every swim has the opportunity to learn something. Sometimes you deliberately learn a skill or have an experience that you need to add to your repertoire, sometimes the lessons find you whether you think you need them or not.

We also had our final night swim of the season, and our new buoys were out again, this time all lit up - did’t they look pretty! Well done to everyone who got up at silly o’clock particularly those who got no sleep after seeing people off and then setting up all the safety for those swimming to enjoy.



Each year for the last three years we have run ‘Swiss week’. The first time it was because I was swimming Lake Zurich, last year I was crewing for a friend doing the same swim. This year it’s Ady’s turn to take on the magical swim. Some of my favourite photos come from this weekend and this year is no exception! One day I’ll actually be in Dover for this weekend to enjoy the fun!

Future themes

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

  • 10th & 11th August: California dreaming - this weekend saw Nick & Nicki Murch take on Catalina, next week sees Mel Holland do the same. Is anyone else dreaming of California?



Daylight on Saturday

Swimmers:   35
Water temperature: 18.4C
Air temperature:   18.7
Conditions: Choppy to start then calming as tide went out. Cloudy to start then sunny

Sunday (3am swim):
Swimmers:   19
Water temperature:   18.1C
Air temperature: 17.6
Conditions:   Calm & sunny (after sunrise)

So far we have registered:

  • 84 Solo swimmers

  • 45 Relay swimmers

  • 37 Just for Fun swimmers

  • 77 Aspire swimmers

  • 112 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


Congratulations to the following swimmers on their swims this week:

Mad Turks North Channel Relay (north channel) including Emre Deliveli and Raha Akhavan on 29th July in a time of 12 hours 14 minutes 11 seconds.

Michael Mann for his Windermere solo on 29th July

Cosmic Rays Relay on 2nd August including Geoff Gardener & Lucy Ashdown-Parkes in a time of 17 hours 2 minutes

Aspire Team Whitbread on 2nd August in a time of 15 hours 28 minutes

Two + One relay including Mikey Tees on 2nd August in a time of 14 hours 42 minutes

Swim Tayka relay on 2nd August in a time of Susan Gough, Richard Norton, Spi Lewis in a time of 15 hours 6 minutes

Carpe Diem relay including Toby Davies on 2nd August in a time of 13 hours 51 minutes

Paul Harris for his EC solo on 3rd August in a time of 12 hours 20 minutes

Dirk Gewert for his EC solo on 3rd August in a time of 15 hours 44 minutes

Chris Leek for his 2nd EC solo as part of an Arc to Arch event (bike leg in progress) on 4th August in a time of 15 hours 28 minutes. His overall time was a new mens skins record - 69 hours 29 minutes!

Hunter Charlton for his EC solo on 4th August in a time of 14 hours 40 minutes

Ady Brown for his Lake Zurich solo on 4th August in a tine of 10 hours 22 minutes

And sneaking into this blog because I’m late writing it, Nick Murch and Nicki Murch on their Catalina solos today - question is who won?

We also enjoyed tracking all the other swims which included some very familiar names. Well done on your swims!!

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.

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


Stand out swims

Most of the 7 & 6 swimmers

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

  • Steve Stievenart - back in training again after 20 bridges and a channel solo - the machine is back!

  • Mick Helps & Scott Rodger for 6 plus hour swims

  • To everyone who battled demons on the night swim and conquered them


Volunteers - thank you


Thank you to all the people who volunteered this weekend. I couldn’t be there as I was helping another group of swimmers. Thank you to all of you who helped, I know of some and I’m sure there were more. In particular, thank you to:

  • Paul James

  • Jon Southey

  • Michael Jennings

  • Hayley Brant

  • Kevin Mullarkey

  • Claire Russell

  • Louise Marshall

  • Mikey Tees

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



Looking ahead

Future disrupted sessions:

IMG_2059 2.jpg

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.


Emma’s corner

Be present

Does being deliberately focused really make a difference? Surely, it’s just about swimming up and down to get the miles into the muscles? In my opinion, mindless swimming is wasteful. Being present and training deliberately is far better than mindless miles.

Mindless miles are a waste

Not only of your time and skills, but also of your motivation. How do you motivate yourself to do the next long training swim if there’s no purpose, just plodding up and down. That can be a tad boring. Whether it’s the pool or the harbour, going up and down mindlessly is tedious and you’ll have a hard time achieving any meaningful improvement.

Some training sessions are long, very long. When you’re preparing for a channel swim you have a lot of training to complete. If you daydream your way through them by just swimming through the motions, steadily building up an impressive collection of mindless miles.

Training with intent helps you shake off bad training habits

We all have them. Maybe it’s not focusing on technique and finding that you’re not maintaining your rotation as well as you did, or you stop a little too long when it comes to the turning points in the harbour. Letting your technique drift could open you up to the risk of injury and don’t let your big day be the first time that you swim for an entire hour all joined up!

Whatever your nasty little habits are, when you practice deliberately and with focus, they become obvious.

It can impact your confidence - are you over or under confident?

How often have you set expectations for yourself in training, at work, in everyday life and end up being woefully ambitious compared to the way you were training? Have you realised with hindsight that you were over confident given the preparation that you did? Or perhaps you haven’t quite admitted that to yourself and have found a host of reasons to blame for falling short of your intent?

Confidence can be yours - it comes from proper preparation so that you can just repeat what you already know that you can do in training.

What percentage of your pool and open water training is done with full engagement? How quickly do you feed? How much work are you doing with your technique? Are you even aware of your technique? How many of your strokes have perfect technique?

Each metre and each mile, each training session, you are building a result. For better, or for worse.

Build the performance that you want in every single training session. Your technique, your mindset, your speed, your attitude. Each time you swim you are programming your body and your mind. If you train slow and sloppy, if you get out early, if you build excuses, don’t be surprised if these things feature on your big day.

Programme the swim you want in training so that when you turn up on your big day you can turn off your brain and swim on auto pilot - just the way you trained.

Steps towards making the most of each session and programming your body & mind

  1. Slow things down
    There may be times when you feel like your stroke has just fallen to pieces, like you’ve just forgotten how to swim. The more you try, the worse it gets. That in itself is enough to stress you out and just seems to make things worse still.
    If you want to get your stroke back, brute force is not the way. Slow things down again. Go back to basics, do your drills. Swimming slowly with deliberate and precise movement will help you focus on the few things you can do to get back into your best stroke instead of reinforcing the things that have gone awry.

  2. Have a goal in mind for your training
    When you start training, either in the pool or in the harbour, do you have a purpose in mind? Having something specific to achieve during each training session will help you stage engaged and get more from each and every session. You don’t need me or your pool coach to remind you of some of the things that you could be working on.

  3. Boost your training with visualisation
    When things are physically tough, that’s exactly the right time to visualise the outcome you want to achieve. It will deepen the connection between your training and your big day. This way should things get tough on the big day you will, at the same time, automatically visualise your finish therefore connecting a positive outcome with your momentary struggle.

  4. Build a feedback circle
    It’s always beneficial to get some objective feedback on how you are doing. Whether that’s from your pool coach or in the harbour, feedback is a gift. If you can get video feedback on your stroke then even better - someone telling you what you could improved alongside actually seeing it is excellent feedback. You may think you know exactly what your stroke looks like and yet I find that my perception and reality are often different (good or bad).
    If you don’t have a pool coach, you could always ask another swimmer or beach volunteer to video you above and below the water - be proactive.

  5. Be specific about what you are trying to improve
    It’s quite difficult to focus on too many things. Identify the one or two things that will make the biggest difference and focus on those until there are other things that are the biggest thing. I don’t think that anyone could ever be perfect, so there will always be something you can improve. In the early days there are big gains to be had from making small changes. The more you improve the more marginal the gains are, but marginal gains can still be HUGE when played out over the distance of a channel swim.

  6. You get what you train for
    Practice doe not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect.
    Question is, what do we mean by perfect practice? It’s really easy to focus in on the things that you’re already good at, and it is important to keep making the good better. Please also remember to work on the things that you’re not yet brilliant at. Whilst these won’t be perfect yet, keep working on them in a way that will help them improve (could be specific drills) and you will be ingraining the correct muscle memory.
    On the big day, you can just swim, knowing that your muscle memory will take over. Good quality muscle memory will lead you to a better swim than mediocre or poor muscle memory.

So my challenge to you is to make every session count. You will have undoubtedly noticed just how many swimmers have now completed their big swim. Training will start to become a lot quieter as we move through the rest of August and into September. A lot of the ‘big’ lessons in Dover have been learned - you’ve done the cold metres, you’ve done the progressive build ups, you’ve done qualifying swims, you’ve done big back to backs, you’ve practiced feeding in the shallows and in deep water, you’ve swum in the dark. What’s left to learn? Everything. Each swim has the opportunity to work on marginal gains. To focus on a single aspect.

Ditch the mindless metres. Choose something to deliberately work on and focus on that. Build the muscle memory and automatic conditioning including visualisation that you can use on the big day. You have a great opportunity to really refine this now.

Programme the swim you want in training so that when you turn up on your big day you can turn off your brain and swim on auto pilot - just the way you trained.


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.

My calendar for this season is now mostly full. If you’re thinking about support for a future season, please let me know. 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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