As the week move on, so do the distances and the temperatures. I have to say that I love the Class of 2019, what a happy, smiley, inspirational bunch of swimmers.
All things ‘Green’
This weekend was the first weekend of Aspire training, the beach was very, very busy! As Aspire wear green hats in the water, our chosen theme was ‘Green’.
That was a very easy theme to join in with - well done to all of your who did, I didn’t look daft at all!
Seriously though, it was lovely to see so many people on the beach. It’s also lovely to see how many people have started with an Aspire relay and go on to other relay and solo swims in the English Channel and other places around the world.
In keeping with all things green, the soloists were asked to do a time trial ‘the Green Mile’ well done all - mostly you didn’t know what happened at the end of that, and all over you took the extra time tagged on at the end without batting an eyelid.
The green cakes seemed to go down well too.
Given that next weekend is Eurovision, we should celebrate. Will you sing us a tune, bring 99 red balloons, dress up as Bucks Fizz or ABBA or will we award you nil points?
Volunteers - thank you
Thank you to:
Saturday: Oonagh Gormley, Claire Russell & Kelvin Davies. With support from Nick Murch & Paul James.
Sunday: Oonagh Gormley, Mark Sheridan & Kelvin Davies. With support from Paul James, Nick Murch & Charlie Frith.
Yesterday, I used a whole bunch of ‘reasons’ not to swim - it was busy, after all wasn’t it? Well, they really were excuses as the volunteers were brilliant. So today I had a word with myself and used the support there for us all to have a swim. So I would personally like to say thank you to everyone who enabled me to also train.
If you’re interested in volunteering for a session or more you can sign up here.
Swimmers: 47 (plus approx 45 Aspire swimmers)
Water temperature: 11.7C
Air temperature: 11.0C
Conditions: Fairly calm, occasional breeze, started grey and overcast followed by patchy cloud with sunshine trying to join in.
Swimmers: 52 (plus approx 45 Aspire swimmers)
Water temperature: 12.2C (taken towards end of session)
Air temperature: 12.5C rising to 17.5C
Conditions: Sunny with a NE breeze. Fairly calm with a bit of swell.
So far we have registered:
74 Solo swimmers
28 Relay swimmers
26 Just for Fun swimmers
48 Aspire swimmers
13 Drop-in swimmers
There are 21 swimmers who have applied and will be approved subject to a successful assessment swim.
I think this year may have more repeat offenders than any other year so far. It’s so lovely to see people come back to train for other events or just for the fun of it. It is amusing seeing former red hats not finding it as easy to adapt to the freedom of choice offered by the coveted purple hat as they perhaps thought!
We take your safety seriously. Here are a few golden rules of open water swimming.
Find a buddy
It’s advisable to always swim with someone else. Clearly, in Dover there are a lot of people. Please look out for each other. You are your own safety cover. If there is a swimmer you are concerned with, ask them if they are ok. If you don’t get an answer that provides you comfort, help them out safely.
Stay in the swim zone
We are so very lucky to have such a large swim zone. With the exception of boats launching from the slipway and exiting slowly through the swim zone, no boats are permitted in the swim area. So to be fair to other water users, please don’t stray into their area. Rowers do their sport backwards and at speed - it will really ruin your day, and theirs if you get hit by a boat or a paddle.
Whilst I ask you to swim anti-clockwise round the swim zone, that doesn’t mean you have to hug the edge of it - that marks the very outside, feel free to stay closer to shore, particularly if you think you might have challenges swimming in a straight line.
Some people strayed out of the swim zone this weekend. There really is no excuse for this and could cause us issues with other organisations. Please ensure you always remain in the swim zone.
Even on a cloudy day you will catch the sun, especially on a long swim. Not only is sunburn uncomfortable, it risk serious health issues. I’d suggest applying suncream before you leave home and reapply on the beach if you want to. Always put suncream on before getting the number on your hand - doing it the other way round is a great way to erase the swim number!
Timings - start of day
It is mandatory for all but the ‘Just for fun’ swimmers to attend the daily briefing. We reserve the right to refuse a swim if you do not arrive on time for this. Why is this? Well apart from the briefing being an important part of our safety process, it is very difficult to keep track of who is where if people start at different times.. Why have I made an exception for the ‘just for fun swimmers?’ This is a trial. Anyone who arrives after the briefing must agree to read the briefing before swimming and much sign-in and show a start time and expected duration.
Timings - end of swim & feeding
One of our main checks is that everyone who enters the water also leaves it. We record how long you have agreed to swim. If you don’t turn up at that time we then start to look for you. It’s not a nice feeling to have even a moment of doubt over the safety of a swimmer. If you are late, you cause this worry for the volunteers. You may be having the swim of your life and enjoying being in the zone, that bubble soon bursts when you are reprimanded in no uncertain terms.
The volunteers work hard, and spend a lot of time going up and down the beach. If the feeding is complete and you rock up to the beach late, we will not only be looking for you but also will reserve the right to deny you a feed (and we do indeed do this), so if you want a feed or treat - arrive on time.
Signing in and out
Please ensure that you ALWAYS tell the person with the book that you are out of the water. Again, swimmers who appear to be missing cause concern. We will call you, if we don’t hear from you we will call your emergency contact number if we can’t see you on the beach or in the water.
Please also remember to sign-in again when going back into the water for a second dip - not everyone did that yesterday.
Some of you may have noticed the jet ski that launched from the slipway today. If messed around in the swim zone when it shouldn’t have. The owner then gave Paul & I an earful when we tried to talk sense to him. I chose not to engage in any further conversation and contacted Port Control who sent the harbour launch out to deal with him.
If you are ever concerned by boat / jet skis, please just keep out of their way. If you are on the beach, tell one of the volunteers if you see something you believe to be unsafe. The telephone number for port control is at the front of the signing in books. Port control can see much of the harbour from their viewpoint and will respond if needed.
You are doing great!! Some of you have questioned whether you are going to be ready in time for your qualifying swims or the big day. Keep doing what is asked of you and turning up to training each week and we will get you there. Your job is to swim, my job is to plan. We make a great team!
Start times and Safety briefing
Despite the chilly weather it was brilliant start to the season. Just about everyone arrived nice and early, ready to sign-in and get in the water on-time. There were a couple of stragglers, but that came down to a misunderstanding. To be really clear for anyone who is not sure, timings below are the time you get in the water. Before that you need to get your suncream sorted, sign-in, attend the mandatory briefing, get greased (if you’re going to be in long enough to need it) and actually get in the water. I suggest arriving about 30 minutes early to allow a relaxed start to the day. The briefing tends to be around 15 minutes before the start.
New starters (1st session only): 9am
Previous swimmers: 10am
All swimmers: 9am
There is a lot of information to take in during the briefing, much of it remains constant. I’ve created a document which contains the static information, you can download it here or pick up a hard copy at the beach. Make sure you listen out for information that is relevant to that session only during the briefing (e.g. use of kayaks & boats, any special feeding arrangements, changes to swim zones to accommodate weather or other events).
Online applications & membership cards
Please can you attach your membership cards to the outside of your swim bags. This is part of our safety procedures should we need to identify bags in the even of an emergency.
If you haven’t joined us yet and still plan to, the online declaration can be found here. It’s far easier to complete it in the comfort of your own home rather than on the beach on an iPad or mobile phone!
If you don’t already realise, you soon will come to understand what a fantastic group we have with Dover Channel Training. Your training subscription is an absolute bargain given that it covers all your feeds, encouragement and grease etc (depends on subscription option of course). The mentorship programme above is free to use. There are many experienced swimmers on the beach and in our social media community who are willing to share their experiences if you wish to hear them. Use every avenue that works for you. We all have one goal - your success.
If you want more formal support than can be offered in a brief conversation on the beach, please get in touch with me so that we can discuss if I can provide additional assistance outside of what is offered through Dover Channel Training. You can find out a bit more at Emma2France. As well as the qualifications and experience that you’d expect I’d have, I’m also a Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and a Hypnotist. We talk about how swimming the channel is 80% and 20% everything else. Much of the 20% is covered through Dover Channel Training, some of the 80% will feature (e.g. expect the unexpected above). If you have unhelpful self-talk, beliefs that are not real and are limiting your progress or a desire to have more 1:1 support, please get in touch. We can discuss what would be of benefit for you.
Alternatively, if you’ve got a group of friends training together and would like some group support, we can discuss the masterclass options for a bit of extra support as a group of soloists or relay swimmers.
A few photos captured at the weekend.
See you next week!!