Monthly Archives: July 2010

What happened that day

Tuesday morning was calm seas as we boarded the Louise Jane in a nervous silence. We set out from Dover Harbour to Samphire Hoe Beach where we would start. The crew consisted of Andy the pilot, Andy the first mate, Steve the official observer from the Channel Swimming Association, Bonnie Curtis, Greg Gjerdalen, John Hamilton, Hugh Johnston, Hannele Gjerdalen, Luke Gjerdalen and Cole Gjerdalen.

First order of business was for my crew to apply grease to avoid chafing in salt water and maybe warm the body a bit.

Andy came within 300 meters from shore where I took the plunge into the 15’C waters and swam to shore. Once I cleared the water line the official observer blew his whistle and started his watch and I started my journey to France.

The first 2 hours were spent thinking about family and friends, including my mum who I would dedicate the swim too and asked to keep me warm. At 2 ½ hours my support swimmer Greg jumped in and swam beside me for an hour. This would prove to be great for moral. At 4 ½ hours I had my first “crisis”. I was in that horrible place where the “demons” start to play with your mind. Their argument was that if the water was to stay at 15’C for the next 8 hours how would I manage. This proved to much for me and I told the crew that I was having a hard time and was thinking about giving up. I  will never forget the adamant response they gave me and that was…  “you can do this…two years of training…think about it”. and then Andy poked his head out and said “are you tired Rod” I said “no” he said “your not even shaking man” and before I could say anything else, he said “put on your googles and lets go”. I remember putting my goggles back on and starting to swim. I was mad and angry and full of self pity because these guys had no idea what I was going thru and who were they to comment from their nice warm boat. I made a pack with myself that I would prove to them how cold I was and that their pleas to continue were of no use.

At 6 hours we had passed though the British shipping lanes and the water warmed a degree. This was to be my savour! I now could comprehend swimming further. I quickly thanked my mum, told her that she was beautiful and that I knew she was there…

Support swimmers can swim for an hour with you then they have to get out for an hour. Greg proved to be a vital part of the swim as I would anticipate his presence and hence boost my spirits.

At 8 hours the feeding plan went out the window. The high carbohydrate mix was starting to come back up and cause stomach cramps. I switched to solid food which threw my main feeder and fiance Bonnie into a frenzy. I asked for muffins, bananas, melon, hot water and coffee. I continued this for the next 4 or 5 feeds. I don’t know why but I was starting to feel stronger and could actually see France.

At 10 hours we were close to Cap Gris-Nez and the water was calm. I was strong and warm at this point, thinking maybe I can do this. I have learned from previous swims never take anything for granted and stay focused.

At 11 hours France was clearly in sight.

At 12 hours Andy put the tender in the water and escorted me to the landing area which was just south of Cap Gris-Nez on the rocks. I will never forget looking over at the greatest crew of friends that have come all this way to be part of this amazing journey. I took them from one extreme to another and for their patience and support I am truly grateful.

At 12 hours and 21 minutes I climbed on the rocks, cleared the water line, raised my arm just as the official blew his whistle. The crew cheered and the Louise Jane blew her horn. I had just swam the English Channel!

We did It!!!

A quick post to let you know that I crossed the Channel today in 12:21:00!

Will post with details as soon as I can…a little tired right now.

Green Light For Tuesday Morning

Looks like we have a go for Tuesday with a start time of 4:30am. I will try to post as soon as I can afterwards.

July 18, 2010 – Sunday

Just got of the phone with Andy – looks like he will take the relay team tomorrow (Monday) and then me on Tuesday. The forecast is for some rain, but otherwise sunny. The only thing that might stop us is the wind. Fingers crossed. The water temp is a little cooler than expected, but I will just have to swim faster!!!

Keep you posted…

July 16, 2010

July 16, 2010

Weather has been very windy the last two days. We met with our pilot Andy King today at 11:00am. He took us aboard the Louise Jayne, which is named after his late sister. Coincidentally, my sisters name is Jayne Louise. Andy seems very qualified as a seaman and has done over one hundred crossings. We talked about the weather and so far it does not look good until Monday and he has a relay team to get across before me. I will keep you posted.

Yesterday we were joined by our good friends Greig, Hannele and their boys Luke and Cole. Greig will be swimming along side me for parts of the swim. This will definitely be a bonus as it can and will get a little monotonous out there.

As far as sight seeing goes we walked the Cliffs of Dover and because it was a clear day we could see France! It was a bit daunting, but all I have to do is point myself in the right direction and keep swimming…

July 14, 2010

I talked to our pilot Andy King. Friday is not so good, but Saturday and Sunday may be ok. I am the #2 swimmer in a Que. of three. I will be in contact with Andy closer to Friday.

For some reason I didn’t get the best sleep, maybe five hours. The guest house accommodation includes breakfast. So far, I have opted for the English breakfast, which consists of two eggs, sausage, ham, baked beans and toast. I definitely could get used to this, and it certainly helped the lack of sleep.

We walked down to Dover Harbour (10 mins) where they have a huge protected recreation area. Historically, the majority of channel swimmers come and train here.

When we arrived I noticed a group of swimmers from Libya on the beach preparing for a training swim. I talked to their coach and sure enough they were planning to swim the channel as a relay team. This would be a first for Libya.

I swam here for about 1:15mins. The water temp was about 16’C . I did notice how much saltier the water is here and made a mental note not to get lazy and ingest to much. After the swim we talked with the group from Libya and took some photos, it was great fun to meet them.

Next Stop Dover

July 13, 2010

Today is Travelling day. We took a cab to the Victoria Train Station from our hotel. On a side note is was kind of sad leaving London because of all the incredible sights to see knowing that we had just scratched the surface. Everything here is very accessible via the public transportation. On a personal note, I must confess that I am not the greatest with confined spaces, like the London Tube. Team “Midlife” thought that they would experiment with me…as Hugh put it “Lets just take the champ underground to see how he does…” well the champ lasted about one minute. It’s funny, I would rather swim the channel than ride the tube!

We caught the train to Dover at 3:30pm which was a very fast and scenic way to go, it lasted about 1:30mins with a total cost of 27 pounds.

Arrived in Dover just in time to check into our bed and breakfast (Maison Dieu Guest House) . Met with the owner Diana French who immediately gave us tea and cookies and took us though the logistics of our stay. We later walked into the City core (5 mins) and had a wonderful dinner at an Italian restaurant. To finish the evening off we walked down to Dover Harbour where I stuck my toe in the water and ran out screaming like a little school girl! Just kidding…the water is cold, but not that cold.

Lastly, we walked along the promenade where we paid homage to the local hero Captain Matthew Webb who was the first person to swim the channel in 1875.