|L-R: Andrew, Geoff, Paul D, Ceinwen, Paul N and Wayne|
still smiling after their 6 hour qualification swim!
The combination of the long distance, strong tides, potentially rough conditions and the cold water make the English Channel one of the hardest swims in the world. So hard in fact that fewer people have swum the English Channel than climbed Everest! Today on the blog we're going to let the Channel Team members update you on their preparations, find out how the qualification swim went and hear about their fund raising for a very important cause.
To find out even more, the team have a dedicated website here: www.channeldare.com
|Wayne, Ceinwen, Paul N and Paul D|
Andrew: "Our team of eight swimmers are Paul Newsome, Paul Downie, Wayne Morris, Ceinwen Williams, Lisa Delaurentis, Geoff Wilson, Carrol Wannell and me. There's a range of speeds in the group (Paul N and Ceinwen being the super-fish!) but it's well known that depending on conditions on the day, stamina and mental strength can greatly outweigh pure speed!
Every one of us has our own boat and skipper (known as a "pilot") who will guide us through the strong channel tides from England to France some time in our 5-7 day tidal windows. When the weather conditions are set fair for the following day we'll receive a call from our pilot telling us we're off in the morning (cue big rush of adrenaline!).
|Paul N and Ceinwen|
Geoff: 21st to 29th July 2011
Lisa: 25th to 31st July 2011
Ceinwen: 6th to 13th August 2011
Wayne: 6th to 13th August 2011
Carrol: 20th to 26th August 2011
Andrew: 5th to 10th September 2011
Paul D: 5th to 10th September 2011
Paul N: 5th to 10th September 2011
Cold Water Adaptation
|Andrew getting a hot drink down during training|
Swimmers often take 12 to 16 hours to complete their crossing and obviously this is a very long time in such cold water.
Adapting to the cold and deliberately adding a few kilograms of insulation to our muscular physiques (!) are a major part of the preparation to swim this mighty event. We've been swimming regularly in the Swan River here in Perth which is a perfect 15°C for training and we've been rewarding ourselves with plenty of (ahem) "high quality nutrition" to make sure we have enough insulation for our crossings. Trying to gain weight can be a real challenge when you're swimming 50km per week!"
Training... And Yet More Training!
|Training in the Swan River, Perth|
Ceinwen: "The great thing about having eight of us training as a team is the shared camaraderie to get through the long and challenging sessions. Each of our training weeks will peak in the 50-60km range, with at least 25 to 30km of that in cold open water.
Our staple training has become long endurance swims but we've kept some threshold sets to maintain speed together with some technique sets to keep our stroke form. Open water techniques are key to a successful swim so we're doing lots of sighting and navigation practise. Being able to breathe bilaterally is important too as our support boats will move around us depending on the direction of the swell and good communication needs to be maintained with the boat at all times.
|Andrew and Paul D in action|
Experience and expertise of this event is so important that we've employed the services of 7-times World Marathon Swimming Champion Shelley Taylor Smith, herself a channel veteran. We're very lucky to have Shelley local to us in Perth, thanks for all your help Shelley!"
|Geoff getting greased up by Shelley before|
his qualification swim
A Six Hour Qualification Swim
To even attempt a channel swim crossing you must have completed a six hour qualification swim in 16°C water or colder. Last Sunday the entire team completed this swim in the Swan River here in Perth using a 2km loop - perfect for the support crews to keep a close eye on them in case of hypothermia. The jetty was also the perfect as a feed station.
|Geoff and Andrew coming in for a feed|
The conditions whilst cold were perfectly flat and with no obvious current so it's hard to draw comparisons accurately against my previous Rottnest Channel swims but I went through 19.7km in exactly 4:45 or 37 minutes faster than I have ever swum the race. This is a massive confidence boost and a good sign that all the hard work has been paying off. I certainly felt good and held a stroke rate of 80±2 SPM (strokes per minute) throughout.
|Swim Smooth Head Coach Paul Newsome|
was stoked with his qualification swim
Now I'm just looking forward to another good block of training and getting on with the task at hand."
Raising Money For Breast Cancer Care
|Shelley and Leith keep things organised on the jetty|
Lisa: "We are swimming for Breast Cancer Care WA who provide financial and emotional support to breast cancer victims and their families. In case we were not taking this part seriously enough, not long ago a member of our group told us of a beautiful 35 year old mother of two who is facing terminal cancer after breast cancer has returned to haunt her for the second time. I can only imagine what she and her family are experiencing.
It saddens me to think about my selfishness of complaining about the cold water when there are people like this in our community fighting to live. Whilst I can not guarantee the success of making it to France I know I will fight with such spirit. I'm sure you have all experienced something very close to this in your lives and watched others hurt, so please help and donate to Breast Cancer Care. Please give generously here:
So far we've raised over $25,000 dollars but we know we can raise a lot more with your help - please show your support for what we're doing!"
The Support Crews
Wayne: "It's truly amazing just how many people need to be involved in the preparation for an English Channel crossing. A special thanks from us to all the family, friends and coaches who have given up their time, energy and beauty sleep to help us qualify.
Over thirty people were involved in supporting the qualification swim and many of them will be travelling to the UK to support us during our attempts. Thanks so much - we simply couldn't do it without you guys regardless of how much training we put in!"
Here on the blog we'll keep you up to date with the team's training and how each crossing goes, including special coverage of Paul Newsome's swim on the day he crosses in September. We hope you enjoyed the update and perhaps feel a little inspired yourself!
In the meantime, if you have any messages or questions for the team then please post them in the comments sections on the bottom of the blog here.