Swimming the Channel for FRANK Water

Three hardy souls set off from Dover on Saturday night to arrive 13hrs later in Calais. They swam through the dark, the cold and various sea creatures to raise money for three charities, including FRANK Water.  Here's Michael's account of the swim: One small picture from our channel swim – this from the beach just outside of Calais yesterday afternoon.   We did the swim in 13 hrs 08 mins, in the end leaving Samphire Hoe beach in Dover at 23h50 on Saturday night and arriving in France at 12h58 yesterday. The 11h10m all-time record for a 3-man relay gives a bit of context.  The first two thirds of the swim was pretty grim, swimming in the dark, water temperature just 15 degrees once you were off the beach and air temperature around 9 degrees. The air temp is critical - we couldn’t get warm between swims which meant we were cold before even starting another hour’s swim, having to force ourselves in and requiring 100% focus on the job both to stay in there and cover a decent amount of ground.

The strict rules for Channel Relays help here, you have to rotate in strict 1hr segments, change-over at 0h58m or 1h02m and you’re disqualified.   The benefit of this is that when you’re in there in the dark, freezing, on no sleep, and frankly a little bit scared (monster jelly-fish which hit you by surprise as you can’t see them coming) you know that you simply cannot get out even a minute early as the whole team will be disqualified. You have to stay in and do your hour no matter what, and when you get out it’s your responsibility to get yourself warm, fed and in the right place mentally so that 2 hours later you can get in again for another hour. Rhys, the 3rd man in the team, told me after we’d finished that to keep going he’d had to look deep into his soul and dig out inner mental strength which he hadn’t had to do for a very long time – this from a serving Commando in the Royal Marines with 2 tours in Baghdad and 2 in Afghanistan under his belt, who successfully completed a 4-man relay 3 yrs ago so knew what he was doing.

That said, come 7.30am, half way through my 3rd hour, the sun came up and the whole thing was transformed. You could see and you could get warm between swims. By the time we finished it was glorious. I got home yesterday evening, went to bed at 20h30 and slept for 11 hours solid.   Now properly back on the case and feeling great. I know this stuff isn’t for everyone, but for me it is the ideal reset – nothing like a dip in cold water to get my head straight, put everything in context and put me in the right place for some proper hard work. It also looks like I’ve raised about £1,750 for 3 great charities, Frank Water, LifeBox & Tommy’s – thank you again.