First of all, please accept my apologies for not being with you this weekend. Those of you who were there will have learned that my Dad is unwell. I simply couldn’t afford to be that far away. I would like to extend a huge thank you to all the volunteers who were on the rota and also to those who stepped up and lent a hand. I’d especially like to thank Paul, it was so comforting to know that I could simply explain the plan and leave everything to him to sort, leaving me to focus on family.
Water temperature: 12.5C
Air temperature: 16C
Conditions: Hazy sun. Calm to start, northerly wind picked up during the session creating some chop.
Water temperature: 12.2C
Air temperature: 16C
Conditions: Force 3-4, north to north-east. Calm with increasing chop. Partly cloud with sun and rain towards the end.
The spring tide made for hard work getting to the ferry wall.
So far we have registered:
74 Solo swimmers
31 Relay swimmers
27 Just for Fun swimmers
48 Aspire swimmers
16 Drop-in swimmers
There are 24 swimmers who have applied and will be approved subject to a successful assessment swim.
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.
For clarity, the differences between categories are as follows:
Solo swimmers are those who want / need to do long swims that will include feeds
Relay swimmers will have double dips throughout and maybe the odd treat here and there. There’s no feeding involved
Just for fun are purely recreational swimmers. There are no feeds or treats, no helping you stay in on a challenging day and no certificates.
Aspire is exclusively for those training through Aspire for events this year
Drop in swimmers can be Solos, relays or just for fun. Solos pay a higher fee to cover the cost of feeds - £7, and we can include certificates and form signing. Relays and drop ins are £4 per session and £5 for any session that you need paperwork / certificates signing.
Eurovision comes to Dover
Our theme this weekend was ‘Eurovision’, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. Paul & I had intended to go as half of ABBA, given that I couldn’t make it in the end, we just had ‘B’ rather ‘AB’! He wore it with style though.
As you are all, quite simply, magical - the Hogwarts theme is back on for next weekend. I wonder what magical performances we can conjure up!
Stand out swims
Talking of magical performances, what an incredible weekend of swimming. I may not have been there in person, I did hear all about it from Paul and through the wonder of social media.
I’m sure many of you had some quiet and personal breakthroughs this weekend - achieving more than you thought you would or could. Well done!!
I’d like to call out the following amazing swims (in no particular order):
Calum Muress for two long swims this weekend - 5 hours on Saturday and 6 on Sunday. You’ll see Calum swimming in a wetsuit as that is what he’ll be doing for his big day.
Rachel Hill for 5 hours 22 minutes on Saturday (gosh that’s precise)
Sam Poulsen for 6 hours on Sunday, her qualifier for a North Channel attempt (has to be under 13C)
Dirk Gewert & Drew George for 3 hours on Sunday
Julian Critchlow for 2.5 hours Saturday and 3 hours Sunday
Jevon O’Neil and Hayley Brant both asked to do two hours on Saturday and Sunday and actually did 3 hours both days!
Jeanette Foley, Clare Williams, Suzanne Gough, Katy Rutt and Lucy Ashdown-Parkes for your relay qualifiers on Sunday
Those of you who fought demons on Saturday with the cold and came back and didn’t just get in and swim on Sunday but stayed the demons from the Saturday with incredibly strong mental and physical swims on Sunday, coming out stronger and more confident.
And all of you that actually asked to do more than had been asked of you
Volunteers - thank you
Thank you to:
Saturday: Paul James, Kelvin Davies, Claire Russell. With support from Nick Murch everyone who just rolled up their sleeves and helped.
Sunday: Paul James, Mark Sheridan & Kelvin Davies. With support from Kevin Mullarkey and Mikey Tees and again all of you who just did the right thing and helped each other.
But it’s more than that this week. Clearly I owe a great deal to Paul, who really wanted to be with me to support me at this difficult time, and understood that it would actually be a great help to know that the beach was in good hands. Thank you - my absolute rock ❤️.
I also want to thank all the swimmers who made life a little easier for the volunteers by doing what was asked of them and being patient when the volunteers were busy sorting other things.
Volunteering is very rewarding and actually involves a lot more than you realise as a swimmer. It also gives you a great insight into the fact that we’re all the same really, the same challenges, fears, goals and aspirations. We can’t operate easily without volunteers, especially when the volunteers also want to swim. We have lots of opportunities (read that as gaps) on the volunteer rota coming up, I’d be ever so grateful if you could find a day that you could do and sign-up here.
Next weekend is the last weekend of split starts (thank goodness - it’s really hard for the beach crew!). From 1st June onwards, all swims start at 9am (except just for fun who can join late if they wish).
We will have some disrupted sessions in June due to suspension of the swim zone for special events. At this time I’m planning on starting early (very, very early), in fact so early it will still be dark! I will not be allowing assessment swims on these dates, so if this is something that you’d like to experience, you will need to join us on a previous session to join in the fun on that day (unless of course you’ve swum with us a previous year).
Saturday 8th June (Dover Rowing Regatta). Provisional start time 3am.
Saturday 15th June (BLDSA Champion of Champions). Provisional start time 3am.
There will be additional safety measures in place so attending the briefing is mandatory for all swimmers. You will be required to wear two lights (battery operated ones, not chemical ones). If you need them, I sell them on the beach, but please buy them before this date, selling stuff on the beach at 2.30am isn’t my idea of fun.
One key question
Whenever I have a problem or a decision to make when I don’t know the answer, I ask myself this one simple question:
Which would be the greatest regret? To do [whatever it is you’re thinking about] and risk the potential bad outcome, or to not to do it and live to wonder what if…..?
Let me give you an example. When I had my complete meltdown on my Jersey swim last year, I had about 3 weeks left before my English Channel solo slot. I was in a very fragile place. Another failure at that point alongside everything else that was going on in my life at that time (and there were challenges in every aspect of my life) could have triggered a nervous breakdown. I had been unsuccessful more than I had been successful, so success was far from guaranteed. So I asked this question:
Which would be the greater regret, to attempt a channel solo and fail with the risk that I may have a nervous breakdown, or not swim and be left wondering what might have been.
That question helped me decide to swim as I felt I would have regretted not trying more. Just by asking myself that question meant that if I was unsuccessful that I could remind myself that I did this knowingly with some element of risk - interestingly that significantly reduced my stress levels.
I had a similar discussion with myself this weekend.
Which would be my greatest regret, to be in Dover enjoying myself and for something to happen to my Dad and for me not to be able to get back quickly enough, or to be at home missing the fun realising that nothing bad actually happened?
Again a very easy question to answer. I’d regret not being there for my Dad more.
You can use this question too. In works in so many situations - swimming, work, other aspects of your life. e.g.
Which would be my greater regret - to carry on training with a pulled muscle and risk damage that might take time to repair 0r to get out early and realise that it was all in my head?
Which would be my greater regret - to get out because I feel cold to prevent myself being too cold or to get out and realise that I could have done more and regret it.
Which would be my greater regret - to skip training for a party and potentially struggle to catch up or to do the training and miss the fun of the party.
Generally speaking there is no absolute right answer and you can’t predict part of the outcome, which is why you’re putting yourself in both positions to ask the question - running the scenarios in advance. I find that when I do this, that the right answer for me at that time is fairly obvious. Please also remember though that if you are making a decision in the heat of the moment, it’s not quite such a level playing field, your emotions will be hard at work. You need to be REALLY honest with yourself. Listen to that still small voice, the one deep inside that you may be trying to ignore. That is where the right answer lies.
I feel like a broken record sometimes when I remind you of the static briefing information (see below). There’s a reason for that, it is important. For example - the red posts are not just there for decoration, they mark hazards between them and the shore - rocks! Always swim outside the poles. At worst you risk grazing your delicate bits. At best you’ll have the beach crew yelling at you (actually that might be worst!).
This shows one of the posts and a hint of the rocks it’s warning about.
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!
No declaration, no swim, no exception.
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!!