This morning I woke up for my first swim in the harbour of Dover, the same waters as The English Channel. Haha that makes me pretty nervous actually..
I met up with Tracy, my new coach and also with some fellow future Channel Swimmers. There’s Jim from America who has a slot in the period 20th-28th of July and Allesandra from Brazil who has the same slot as me. We didn’t do a very serious training. It’s just nice to go for a ‘happy swim’ and to ‘make friends with the Channel’ as Tracy would put it. 😉
The water was great though! I got excited to be in the water and the others were extremely friendly. It’s not at all competitive, everyone knows how tough it is, what you’ve been through and that this really is a challenge for yourself and not to beat someone else or to prove something to someone else. And that’s why people are supportive and rooting for you to cross the Channel and to reach France! You want them to make it because you know what they had to do to get there, because you’ve done it yourself too!
In the harbour we also met a few other people who were training. I was also supposed to find a jellyfish so I would know how a sting felt like but they must’ve been hiding. But the water felt great and it feels like the Channel is my friend and will help me get to France. 🙂
Afterwards we went for coffee and breakfast. I was less nervous now and I could finally eat properly. We talked about the Channel of course, which pilot and slots we had, what swims we’d done before this, tips from Tracy and her pilot friend. She explained how a lot of things would work in the Channel. All I have to do is focus on swimming and she will take care of the rest.
She will keep contact with the pilot for when I can swim. He actually wanted me to swim tomorrow at 05:30am… But the weekend is looking much better: it’s warmer, there’s less wind, the waves are less high. Overall much better for me! So I’ll probably be swimming on Saturday or Sunday. At least not tomorrow, I still need a few days to relax, calm down and get in the right mind set.
When I actually start my swim I should leave all control to the boat. My family has prepared some surprises for me to keep me distracted for when it gets tough. Also, what I didn’t know is that someone can swim with you for short periods of time when you’re in a dip, and when you actually reach France they’ll swim with you to the beach! Awesome!
It’s definitely going to get hard. There will be times when I want to give up. It’s good to not know so much. Swim from feed to feed (food/drinks will be handed every half an hour). You could be five kilometers off the coast of France but that could still take you three hours. Time or distance don’t say much. Just swim!
And there will be thousands or reasons to quit: the cold, pain, salty mouth, exhaustion. Think of just one reason to go on! And to be honest, it’s easier to go on. Because the people that do this will most likely come back the next year to try again. It’s easier to just go on than to come back next year. It’s cheaper too 😉 And little pains are temporary, the Channel is forever. The mind is stronger than the body! Turn something negative into something positive. If you get stung by a jellyfish it burns, but thank the jellyfish for that little bit of warmth. And think of warm things when you’re cold.
These were all some very good tips Tracy gave me!
We did some sightseeing today too! My family and I went to the castle of Dover. Well I felt like rest but the view was great! After a while we went back to our little house so I could rest. I just laid down in bed and did nothing. I visualised what it would be like to complete the crossing, and how that would feel! Well amazing of course! 😉
Tracy came by our house later. She showed us her equipment: bottles, feeding box, lights. She explained more about the Channel and how things would go. She shared some of her stories, of her own Channel swim and of the ones she has guided. She has so much experience, she is so positive and she believes in people. Under her guidance only one person hasn’t made the Channel. She knows how to motivate people and to help people find their inner strength and their will to finish. She knows how to push people through the negative.
I’m so incredibly thankful to have her guide me across the Channel because the exactly the kind of person I need along side me. She’s incredibly supportive, positive, enthusiastic, experienced, she wants the best for me and she does her best to make it as easy as possible for me. All I have to do is swim and leave the rest to her.
I am a nineteen-year-old girl from Baambrugge, a tiny village near Amsterdam, with big ambitions. I like to set big goals for myself, I like to explore my own boundaries and see if I can expand them.