Saturday 21 July 2012

ENGLISH CHANNEL CROSSED!!! 14hr 12 mins of pain, agony and determination

Quick update to let you know that on Friday 20th July, 2012, I became the 22nd female Australian to cross the English Channel.

My time was 14 hours 12 minutes, swimming from Shakespeare Beach, England and landing on the Channel Swimming Holy Grail, Cap Gris Nez in France.

I am currently recovering from the massive undertaking, and will post a more detailed update when I have had a chance to sit down properly and digest the experience. In a few words, I now know why this is the toughest swim crossing both mentally and physically in most people's eyes. 

The journey across was challenging, especially the last hour and a half where I had to sprint to make the tide to land on Cap Gris Nez. Miss this point and you could have up to another 6 hours until the tide turns and you can make it onto French shores as the current is so strong. The scariest moment was 50m offshore at the end when the tide turned and started to carry me away from the land and woosh me along the coast.... I had already given everything I had, my left shoulder had given in 6 hours earlier with extreme pain, and somehow had to find a little bit more to make it onto the rocky shore, it was the hardest thing I will probably (and hopefully) ever have to endure. I will now also have a nice scar from the barnacles on my leg as a permanent memory of what I achieved.

I can't thank the support crew enough: 
My parents, Chris and Yvonne, who have always supported any goal I set, and who spent the whole entire day on the side of the boat yelling "Go Tor"and waving. Not to mention feeding me and Dad being at the ready to jump in for an hour as my support swimmer should I require a boost. 
My sister Bel, who kept audiences entertained and updated all day with amazing Twitter and Facebook updates and who smiled, cheered and wrote white board messages all day to keep my spirits up. I owe her for life. 
And my brother Mark, who waited a whole week in Dover for my swim before he had to head back to work commitments in Hong Kong when my window got blown out/cancelled, and who was on the phone to my crew most of the way yelling encouragement.

And most of all, a massive thank you to everyone out there who has supported this goal of mine, whether with fundraising for Multiple Sclerosis (over $53,000 raised), tweets, Facebook messages, emails, SMS's, training support, work colleagues, friends, coaching.... the list is endless and I will address in far greater detail in my next post. But to the insane number of people back home in Australia who did not go to bed for the entire night as they watched their computer screen with the flashing GPS dot of my location... you guys kept me going when I hit a wall at 9.5 hours. It was 3am in Sydney, and when I heard you were still up watching, I knew I had to finish this thing!

A famous swimmer's quote by Capt. Matthew Webb, the first person to swim across the English Channel, was "Nothing great is easy". He was right. There is no greater feeling than knowing it is over! It was insanely hard, only sheer determination, excellent preparation and everyone's support got me there in the end and I am so glad to have achieved this goal. Now for some recovery!

Varne Ridge welcomed me home to this and the Aussie flag on the top of the Flagpole! Love them!