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Dover Training Week 4 - More Magical Moments


Dover Training Week 4 - More Magical Moments

Emma France

As the water temperature continues to rise, you continue to rise to the occasion. We also had the first weekend of the ‘washing machine’

Some of Saturday’s swimmers

Some of Saturday’s swimmers


Feeding time

Feeding time

Swimmers:  57
Water temperature: 13.0C
Air temperature:  15.7C, increasing to 18.2C
Conditions:  Force 3 from NW changing to SW. Partly Cloudy. Calm.

Swimmers:  62
Water temperature:  13.2C
Air temperature:  16.3C
Conditions:  Overcast then sunny. Increasingly breezy with increasing chop towards ferry wall.

So far we have registered:

  • 75 Solo swimmers

  • 36 Relay swimmers

  • 29 Just for Fun swimmers

  • 48 Aspire swimmers

  • 27 Drop-in swimmers

There are 23 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.

Magical muggles

Magical muggles

Magic on the beach and in the water

Our theme this weekend was all things ‘Hogwarts’. It was great to see quite a few of you join in the fun! I’m impressed that Paul Cross has a 100% success rate at joining in. I’m going to have to set a harder challenge!

I understand that at least one person ‘bobbed’ this weekend. I also understand that someone got hangry at a feed. We will get to the bottom of this - the theme next weekend is CSI!

Given we have swimmers out in New York next weekend for the first 20 Bridges swim of the season, let’s make it CSI New York. Good luck Melanie Holland, Steve Stievenart, Fiona Mildner, Mark Sheridan and everyone else swimming, there are some very familiar names on the start list.


Stand out swims

Rachel enjoying the beach bar

The Class of 2019 is a high performing team and it can be difficult to call out a few stand out performances when there are so many. I’ve seen examples of long swims, qualifying swims, tackling demons from previous swims and doing extra. I’ve also seen people be sensible when illness or injury frustrates their progress. Well done to you all whether your victory was obvious to all or was a silent personal achievement.

I’d like to call out the following amazing swims (in no particular order):

  • Julian Critchlow, Kevin Mullarkey, Jevon O’Neill, Charlie Allman-Brown, Andrew George, Hayley Brant, Dirk Gewert, Michael Jennings & Michael Fabray for doing more than they original went into the water to do. Most of you actually opted to do a longer swim because you wanted to. Kevin deserves a shout out for repeatedly being sent back out for more and doing all that was asked of him.

  • Julian Critchlow, Dirk Gewert, Ros Hardiman, Ashleigh Seymour, Elaine Henderson, Hayley Brant, Michael Jennings, Kevin Mullarkey & Jevon O’Neill for 4 hour swims

  • Of which Julian Critchlow, Ashleigh Seymour & Hayley Brant completed two four hour swims.

  • Jack McGowan for a 4 hour swim in a wetsuit.

  • Ruth Fontaine, Tracy Nicholls, Annette Stewart, Annie Mulroy, Lucy Ashdown-Parkes, Rosh Lewis, Matt Pexton, Kirsty Jackman, Suzanne Gough for your relay qualifiers.

  • Alexa Ergatoudis for your wetsuit relay qualifier

  • Drew George for being the only person who managed to achieve the target of hitting me with their crocs being thrown out from the water at the start of the Sunday swim!


Volunteers - thank you


Thank you to:

  • Saturday: Matt McGeehan, Oonagh Gormley & Mel Tyrell. With support from Paul James, Charlie Frith, Vicki Carter, Louise Marshall & Phoebe Critchlow.

  • Sunday: Ann Bodimeade & Oonagh Gormley. With support from Paul James, Charlie Frith, Richard Brant, Cliff Golding & Hunter Charlton.

If you think it’s a few hours of sipping drinks on the beach and would like to find out what it’s really like, 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.



Feeding time at the zoo


Now that the time in the water is ramping up for the soloists, we are into the domain of feeding. As you can imagine, feeding can be pretty busy. It is essential that we check you off on the board at each feed, so please ensure you give you number to the person feeding you or shout it to the person with the board.

The volunteers have a lot to do between feeds, so being on time is very important. It’s also a good discipline to develop. Be aware that if you are late for a feed you may find that the beach bar is shut. People generally don’t do this more than once!

On the big day, one of the small things that you can do to make very big difference is to feed quickly. 20 seconds or so is what you should aim for. It’s tricky to do that in training when you may have to wait a few seconds to receive your feed, but once you do have it, please consciously consume it as quickly as you can. We will also give you an array of treats at each feed. You won’t necessarily have many or any solids on the big day. We give you treats to keep it fun and interesting and also to you the chance to experiment with what tastes nice in salt water. Solids do substantially slow down feeds, so think carefully about what you plan to have on your big day. I only had one jaffa cake on the whole of my last solo, I just didn’t need any more. Slow feeds don’t just add a few minutes to your overall swim time, they can be the factor that means that you miss the cap, doing that can add hours to your crossing, not minutes. Is that extra treat worth it?

With regards to fluids, we will feed you CNP unless you say otherwise. Some people prefer UCAN and some just water. If you want something other than CNP, please let the person with the board know when you sign in and remind the person feeding you.

Our feeding pattern is to feed after 2 hours and then every hour thereafter,


Looking ahead

A fantastic experience to practice starting a weird and wonderful times of the day.

A fantastic experience to practice starting a weird and wonderful times of the day.

Next weekend marks the beginning of June. We are back to 9am starts for everyone. It may well seem busier on the beach because of it, so please ensure you arrive on time.

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). Confirmed 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 at least one lights (battery operated adventure lights, not chemical ones). If you need them, I sell them on the beach, but please buy them before this date, selling stuff in the dark on the beach at 2.30am isn’t my idea of fun.


Safety briefing

Safety briefing document

Safety briefing document

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).

Lost Property

We seem to be accumulating quite a bit of lost property. If you have left something behind, please collect it from us as soon as you can. If you think you lost some cash in the wind on Sunday, we may have it - genuine applications only! Though of course if the glasses that we have are yours, you may struggle to read this!! 🤓


Injury & illness

It can be very frustrating to find yourself injured or ill when you want to be training. If you find yourself injured, it’s worth seeing if you can work out why. If it’s a flaw in your stroke and a small tweak would minimise injury risk, then work with your coach. It’s not necessarily wise to make significant changes to your stroke in the lead up to the big day though. I would suggest that seek professional advice on how to adapt your training for your injury to minimise the chances of worsening the injury and minimise the period of time when your training is compromised.

Sometimes it can be hard to know whether your injury is a serious one, or something that you can train through. It can also be hard to tell if it’s actually something in your head rather than actually a physical issue. Paul Massey (channel swimmer & physio) put together a useful guide to assessing your soreness:

If you find yourself with an injury, this swimming soreness checklist is worth reviewing

If you find yourself with an injury, this swimming soreness checklist is worth reviewing

Not being able to train can be frustrating and for some a real concern. It is tough feeling that you're playing catch up. Even so, it is often better to rest and take that time than to press on despite illness or injury. You risk actually taking longer to recover overall if your body doesn’t get the rest that it deserves. If you train too soon after a virus there is the risk of post viral fatigue.

Does practice really make perfect?

Practice doesn’t make perfect: perfect practice makes perfect. Hypnosis and mental visualisation are ideal for practising doing something perfectly in your mind, so that you can measurably improve your performance
in the real world. Many professional athletes and sports players make consistent use of mental rehearsal as part of their training. And studies have found that when someone vividly imagines performing an activity, the same parts of their brain and the same muscle fibres in their body are activated as if they were really performing that activity. So when an athlete runs a race a hundred times in their mind, practising having perfect form and poise for each step of the race, they’re priming their mind and body to be in a state of total peak performance when they take part in the actual event.

I have a hypnosis session that will help you step into a future you that is twice as skilled at the activity you want to improve at. In this context it could be your swimming at a time when you couldn’t otherwise train. I am hoping to find the time to record this and make it freely available. If this is something that you could be interested in, please let me know.


Online applications & membership cards

New style membership cards

New style 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.


Additional Support


Alison Streeter used to always say that swimming the channel is 80% mental, and 20% everything else. Your Dover Channel Training subscription covers all your physical training with us in Dover, including all your feeds and the support of the volunteers. The act of training also supports part of the hidden 80% by giving you unique experiences and the opportunity to do things that you may not have previously considered possible.

You may have questions, in fact I suspect you will have plenty at times. There are a number of ways to get additional support. Most swimmers with experience will be happy to chat with you and answer your questions from their perspective. A number of experienced swimmers have also signed up to be mentors via our facebook group mentorship programme. That is also free to use.

If you want more formal support than can be offered in a brief conversation on the beach or via the mentorship programme, 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. 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!!


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