Finally sitting down and have time to do a brief post-swim report. First thing I would say to anyone who said they want to do it is, “pick something else, this is stupidly difficult”. If, like me, they then said, “too bad, I’m already signed up”, I would follow up with, “enjoy every second of it, the training, the lead up in Dover, and the actual swim if you get to do it, because there’s nothing like it”.
This was by far the best thing I’ve done as well as the hardest. I finished my crossing in 11 hours and 19 minutes. I was stung by 6 jellyfish (although I only remember 4), mostly in the face. On the bright side, since the water is so cold, your skin is mostly numb so the stings don’t hurt as much. The irony, in hindsight is, that I would take 50 more stings versus having to go thru the last hour and a half of the swim. It was truly horrible. France looked like it was 400yds away and when they told me “30min until your next stop”, I took that to mean (in my mentally fatigued state) as, 30 min until I’m on the beach, which was good because I only had about 30min more of effort by my calculations. And, after swimming for that next 30min, I looked up and the coast still looked the same distance away. I was mentally and physically zeroed out at that point. Fortunately, my crew were very positive and I give them total credit for pushing me through that last bit. They kept saying, “it’s working, you’re getting there. Give us 15min more”. So I’d swim for 15 more and they’d say the same thing again. While never worried about my heart stopping or drowning or anything like that, I was pretty sure my arms were going to literally fall off. Fortunately they didn’t and I was able to finish out on a beautiful beach in the town of Wissant, France.
After a great nap on the 3hr trip back across to Dover, I was able to drive our car back to Varne Ridge (the equivalent
of the Olympic Village) where we stayed, which was better than some other swimmers who had ambulances waiting on them when they got back to Dover.
Overall, I’m very glad to say I am an official English Channel crosser, but at this point, definitely don’t want to do it again. And no trips to Cuba either.
The final piece of the puzzle also was bittersweet in that my teammate, Diana Davis, while living long enough so watch the little green triangle make it across the computer screen, passed away 2 days before I flew home to celebrate with her.
She was a great lady and I’ll close with the prayer I say before starting any endurance feat:
“Thank you for today and getting me to this point. I’ve worked very hard to be here. There is nowhere else in the world I would rather be than right here, right now. No matter how hard this is, there are plenty of people who have it worse and would gladly change me spots. I hope to make the most of today and have fun.”