Squads are important because they build your tolerance to different levels of aerobic and anaerobic endurance, and fine tune your skills. The cold, and time in the cold water for long swims, is important because clearly the Channel is cold! This summer in England has been atrocious, with record rainfall and cold weather. This means the Channel has been two degrees colder than normal, and slower than usual in warming up (today = 15.2 degrees).
Since the start of "Channel Season" in July, very few solo crossings have been made due to the bad weather. Two people i've been training with recently succeeded though. Lochie Hinds became the youngest Australian male to cross a few weeks ago, and managed an amazing 12 hours in really cold water (apparently 13.5 in the middle). This is great for such a young guy, and shows mentally he'd made massive progress since we all swam together in Melbourne where he was not exactly thrilled by the cold! He's a brilliant swimmer, and survived a big tide too, so well done Lochie.
Tori Gorman succeeded at the weekend, in just over 14 hours. Tori has been training hard for two years, and was wonderfully prepared both physically and mentally. She had the most agonising of waits in the UK while the weather cleared, and was luck to be able to hang around past her "window". Others had to return to life and work, and missed out on their chance this year. Well done Tori.
So, what do these two successes mean for me?! I swing from feeling hugely positive, knowing people who've been following similar training regimes to me have succeeded, but to be honest these guys are both much quicker than me..........probably 20 secs per 100m (~20%). Their tales of battling the current and the tides off france do worry me, as should I not have enough gas in the tank at the end to lift my pace, then I'll struggle to deal with the 3km "danger zone" which is the 3km just off the coast of France.
So, I am working hard on my technique and my pace, and do seem to be making progress. I have also been doing mental strength work, reading books by athletes who have mastered the mental game. I am preparing myself to be in the water for 18 hours. Hopefully it won't take this long, but I need to be ready, just in case!
To this end, over then next two weekends I will do a couple of long swims. Probably 6 hours next Saturday, and then 12 the following Saturday. I think if I can deal with 12, and if my nutrition plan holds up, then mentally I will be feeling tough. On the day I will no doubt be lifted by the magnitude of the event!
More to come over the next week or two. I have five other friends swimming the Channel solo in the next 6 weeks, so I am crossing my fingers for all of them.
My flights are booked for 15th Sept, so I have just 7 weeks of hard training left. I am going to give everything I have..............at least then I'll know I've done everything I can. This period will include some dietary adjustment, essentially more food, and no alcohol at all. I have already been two weeks without a glass of wine, and can't believe I am staring down the barrel of another 8.........some meals just aren't the same! I can't wait for my life to return to normal, and I look forward to spending more time with my family and friends, and more time asleep! The 4.45am alarm is getting very very tiresome......................
As always, thanks for your ongoing support.