I came to Dover, alone, hoping to be the 2011 season’s 1st solo crossing. Scheduling the crossing was the easy part, no one else wanted to swim a solo in June. I arrived on the June 17th and wait began, but I know now, the 7 days of training in the Dover harbor under overcast skies helped me get through my swim on Sunday, June 26, 2011. I came into this swim, very fit, feeling good but I actually was worried about my 15 pound weight loss and I won’t lie, I did miss that insulation.
The day started with Dover being FOGGED in. Mike Oram, my pilot settled into the waiting game, but because we were on the lowest of the neap tides, leaving later may affect my time, but we still should have a respectable swim. The first thing Mike noticed was my weight loss, he likes his swimmers fit with something to squeeze. While Mike and his crew James Willi and Derek Carter tinkered with the boat, I instructed David Chisholm, who has volunteered to help me with my feeds. Observer, Kevin Murphy watched over us and has voiced he will assist. In between chats, I would take a bath room break. I miss Janet, my life partner, she knows exactly how to feed me but I’m glad she won’t see the pain in my eyes I expect to have.
At 5 hours we are really moving, I could have a personal best, but I'm fighting with that notion. I know this can be the time of the day when the wind picks up, blowing against the tide and mixing up the water, which is exactly what happened. By now, 2/3’s are over and I'm feeling a sense of confidence that I will finish this one, as long as I keep putting one arm in front of the other. Mike asked if I am tired, of course I am, but I'm fine, I cringe when he speaks of the feed with an extra boost of Maxim, I hate this stuff and by now I just want to vomit, but I hold it down. Mike knows I'm cold, sees the ice in my eyes, and starts his magic to get swimmers across, at least his words work for me.
I took each boring 1/2 hour, one at a time, and after 19 feeds we were only 3,000 yards away shore, no need for a last feed, I’m not taking much in anyway, so keep her swimming is Mike’s plan, I’m up for that. That was the longest 3k I can remember, I know I’m clicking off a 1000 yards every 20 minutes. I can see the Light House at Cape Gris Nez, off in the distance; I will be landing just southwest of the point, very close to my first landing, almost 17 years ago. With every breath I can see the cliffs getting larger. Mike slows the Gallivant and I know am I very close, I lift my head, “hey, we’re here”, there are only sharp, large boulders in front me, high tide has not given me a very friendly landing surface. I slowly and carefully found my way through the first layer of rocks and touch a large barnacle and seaweed covered boulder, lift my left hand and the siren sounds from boat,
Finished… #11, in 10 hours, 34 minutes, 34 seconds.
Thank you to my pilot and crew for a safe and successful journey.
Cast: Mike Oram: Pilot, Navigator and friendly mentor
Derek Carter and James Willi: Gallivant crew
Kevin Murphy: CS&PF Observer & Hon. Secretary
David Chisholm: swimmer’s crew/ feeder, photographer etc.