This weekend, Paul & I wanted to disappear for the afternoon for the Surrey Masters Championships so I put out a request for support to enable that to happen - you came up trumps - thank you! Not only were you there for each other, enabling long swims to take place but also those in the water followed through on the sessions that they needed to do despite the fact I was not there. True motivation comes from within.
A need for speed!
With the swimming gala in the mix this weekend I decided that the theme should be ‘swimming galas’. One of the things that you may not know about me is that before I became so involved in channel swimming, I was a very active swimming referee and would spend many weekends pacing up and down poolside as a volunteer official, often as a referee. So I dug out my whites and that became a very simple theme.
In the Saturday briefing I asked how many of you had done swimming galas before, and whilst there were a few hands up, not many of you had. I think that just shows how much the sport has changed over the last decade or two. Once a channel swim was something that was pretty much reserved for those who had a club swimming background and now our sport is accessible to all those who are prepared to dream and prepare, which I think is fabulous. I love swimming with and for my masters club and it is one of the reasons that I haven’t moved house to closer to where I work. I also enjoy competing, a bit like Dover there is a great camaraderie, I get to see old friends and mostly compete against my own aspirations. If you get the chance to try it, I would highly recommend it.
One of the suggestions that I left you with was to build in some speed work to your training with two ideas:
Alternating sprinting and recovery between the groynes and buckets; and
Playing leapfrog with your buddy swimmer
Whilst the need to maintain speed over long distance is paramount in channel swimming (a sub minute 100m speed is impressive, it’s not a lot of use when your event is played out over 12+ hours), you may also be asked to give an ‘hour of power’ on your channel swim to break across a point in the tide - it’s useful to know that you can increase the pace when needed.
I hope you enjoyed the racing starts and the new Dover buoys that we tested out. These buoys are ones that we can light up at night, so will be present for any future night swims, further enhancing our safety processes.
If you want to join in the fun, here are some upcoming themes:
Next weekend (6th & 7th July): it has to be Gay Pride weekend. Let’s celebrate our wonderfully diverse group. Love is love.
13th & 14th July: I’m keeping this one firmly under wraps and I may be drafting in some support!
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.
Water temperature: 16.9C
Air temperature: 21C
Conditions: Calm & sunny
Water temperature: 17.5C
Air temperature: 21.5C
Conditions: Mostly sunny and with a breeze causing choppy conditions
So far we have registered:
84 Solo swimmers
43 Relay swimmers
34 Just for Fun swimmers
69 Aspire swimmers
80 Drop-in swimmers
There are 35 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
Motivation comes from within
As beach crew, we love to help you achieve impressive things and the key to this is that it is you that wants to achieve impressive things. The motivation to do so always comes from within. We will use a string of tricks to help you stay in the water when the pesky demons come out to play, and it is important to remember that it is always you doing the work and you do it so well, just like you will on your big day. All power to you!
Stand out swims
All the glorious sunshine led to a big leap forward in water temperature this weekend and we are now above the magical mark for qualifying swims. That doesn’t stop the achievements from coming in each and every weekend though.
This weekend I’d like to call our the following stand out swims:
Kirill Miryanov for your 7 & 4 weekend. Two weeks ago you struggled to get to two hours - now look at you!
Andrew Ainge for your 6 & 6 weekend
Michael Fabray for your 6 hour swim today with more to come with more training with Ed Horne planned for Monday. Well dome Ed for big swims this weekend after a big week of business travel.
Julian Critchlow, Louise Marshall, Christian Knowles, Chris Leek, Mikey Tees, Tina Noble, Halani Foulsham, Steve Henigan, David Williams & Charlie Allman-Brown for your 7 & 6 weekend
It’s not just about big swims though. I build in recovery weekends and progressive builds into the plans of those who swim with us every weekend (it’s tricky to plan for those who are not with us regularly). These recovery weekends are an important part of our training plan, so well done to all of you who enjoyed a recovery weekend, you worked hard to earn it.
Volunteers - thank you
Thank you to all the people who volunteered this weekend.
Thank you to:
Saturday: Jon Southey, Helen Black & Rachel Hill. With support from Paul James, Connie Gewert, and everyone else who got involved and helped so that Paul & I could go to the gala.
Sunday: Jon Southey &Helen Black. With support from Paul James, Tony Marshall, Connie Gewert, Hayley Brant, Richard Brant, Louise Marshall, Melanie Holland, Catherine Stefanutti, Keith Oiller and everyone else who got involved and helped.
If you can spare a day, please sign-up here.
Since we’re talking about the need for speed, this applies to feeding too. There have been a few questions about treats on swims - this is one area where it is different on the big day. In training we give you a treat at every feed, you don’t need to do this on the big day, in fact I encourage you not to!! Speed when feeding is essential, it will make masses of difference to your overall swim time, not just the extra time that you’ve taken to feed. Ask yourself if that lovely bit of cake is worth an extra 3 hours of swimming? On my last solo I had one jaffa cake during the entire swim. Treats are treats and nothing more. They are something to look forward to once in a while and do not form part of your nutrition plan. If you choose to have a treat, consider something that you can eat quickly and easily whilst treading water.
I hope those of you who experienced it enjoyed the novelty of feeding from Kevin’s boat - thanks, Kev & happy 50th Birthday. Good luck to the crowd of you heading out to take on Lake Annecy.
Future disrupted sessions:
Saturday 13th July (rescheduled Dover Rowing regatta). On this date I am likely to move training to a different location which will be either Hythe or Ramsgate (depending on the weather forecast). I think it will be good experience to swim in a location where we don’t have the protection of the harbour.
Saturday 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!
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.
This weekend saw yet more examples of barriers that once seemed impassible no longer being present. It’s funny isn’t how you can normalise something once you have done it. If I think through my swimming journey, my first 5k swimathon was a massive thing, that I didn’t know if I could complete. Not long after that I would do multiple in a single week and swim the distance completely non-stop. The prospect of my first channel relay was seriously daunting, I even tried to fail the medical, and now I have 3 planned for this year, taking my total up to 14 if all are successful. I wouldn’t say that I’ve normalised a channel solo yet, but there is no longer the fear of the unknown.
Back to this weekend, I saw examples of people who couldn’t do 2 hours two or three weeks ago knock out 6 hour swims. I saw people who struggled to complete 6 hour swims complete a 7 & 6 back to back weekend with relative ease. What I have observed is that our desire to achieve also can provide unwanted or unwarranted pressure when it comes to completing the magical qualifying swims, be they 2 hours or 6 hours. Suddenly when that pressure has been removed I see the person walk a little taller, a little more confidently and what once seemed like an impossible target is no longer unknown but is part of who you are now.
Online applications & membership cards
I have a lot of membership cards waiting for collection. If you haven’t yet picked up yours, please see me next time you’re on the beach. 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, it’s also helpful if we know which is your bag if you need to change goggles or get any medication etc that you might need.
If you haven’t joined us yet and still plan to, the online declaration can be found here.
No declaration, no swim, no exception.
Alison Streeter used to always say that swimming the channel is 80% mental, and 20% everything else. I like Julian’s twist on this ‘it’s 80% mental and 20% in your head’! 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 support, please get in touch. We can discuss what would be of benefit for you.
A few photos captured at the weekend.
See you next week!!