Another average day in the Dover Harbour!  Crappy.
Another average day in Dover Harbour! Crappy.  Note the chop… frothy break on shore… sailboat hiked over… and that doesn’t even show the strong tide or water temp!… and that’s inside the harbor walls… it’s much rougher out in the Channel!

From: Steve Faulkner <movado5555@yahoo.ca>
To: Rob Kent/HBCA/HSBC@HSBC02
Date: 03/10/2013 08:47 AM
Subject: New EC dates Oct 12-15
 
Hi Rob !
 
  First, congratulations to Joanne for getting a slot in the triathlon World Championships in London and recently competing!  Good show!
 
  I’ve not had updated news re my English Channel swim date until last night when I received calls from both my boat pilot and my swim coach.  Pilot Fred knows the Channel well having spent most of his life on it and escorting swimmers across for decades (including Canada’s Cindy Nicolas on a few of her 1981 crossings… 32 yrs ago!).  Tim makes swimming his life as a London based swimming coach whom also works with many Channel swimmers.  Its very helpful and a pleasure to have both of them looking out for my best interest.   So when they offer their guidance I’m best to listen.  Based on what they both suggested my newest swim date window is Oct 12th to 15th.  There is a risk of not getting the weather, but I will get a much better tide.  And tide is apparently very important.  The success of a channel crossing is based on many things…. one’s ability and speed and then all the other things out of their control like water and air temps, weather conditions, tides and currents.  Oh, and sea life (that’s another story involving my swimming friend, Bridgette, and a tangle with jellyfish in July  🙁  not good)  Actually, I should maybe include tide as something within the swimmers control as the tides are predictable so there is a decision that can be made around them.   The issue right now is that after a streak of bad conditions hitting the past two prime Neap Tides (low tides that are best for swimming), the weather improved and waters calmed but on the Spring Tides (high tides).  Thank the alignment of the moon in relation to the earth and sun for the gravitational pull to make all of that happen.  The tide is a huge part of what happens over here as evidenced with the boats in the harbour across the street transitioning twice per day from floating in what appears to be 6m of water to sitting on sand.  Anyway, Fred and Tim both explained that not only are we in a Spring Tide right now but its a massive one.  Spring tides alternate from a strong Spring to a weaker Spring.  This week is the strong one.  🙁   Basically there is a very good chance I would get near France and not be able to get to shore.   Many swimmers have run into this issue where France can be 1 or 3 km away and then the flood tide starts and it pushes them sideways and even backwards and after a couple hours of having the stuffing knocked out of them the swim ends.  They recommend the next Neap Tide, hense Oct 12-15. 
  I’ve certainly learned that one cannot stand on the beach in Dover on a windless, sunny day looking at flat-as-glass water in the Channel and think that would be a good swim day.  That’s exactly what Fred and Tim expect I will see this weekend yet still say no, don’t go.  Wait.  And so that I will do….. while pretending I don’t notice everyone starting to wear winter coats : ).  
 
  I’ll write once I receive the call on when I’m about to “go”.  In the meantime I continue to train in Dover Harbour with the resident seal and here in Folkestone at the beach with two white swans.  Where are the swimmers?!  You will be happy to know my Dover Beach pebble collection is growing as I keep spotting “keepers”!  Even a couple spheres in white!  I still want at least one from France though : )
 
cheers  : )
   steve 

 

Hey Steve,

Great to hear from you!  Glad to hear you are alive and kickin’… and still sane after all the waiting!  I know how hard that can be.  But when you look back on your whole adventure the wait will only be a small part of the story, and it will all be worth it!

Quite true about the tides.  I used to wonder why the tides made any difference, given that they just push you side to side… but, like you, I learned a lot about tides in the English Channel!… and you are quite right… it’s the last few km’s where it makes a difference and can hold you up for hours or even push you back.  Nothing to do but wait.

As frustrating as all this is… and as hard as the actual swim will be… and it will be hard… I’d love to be over there with you!  It’s all part of the adventure, like waiting at Camp 5 on Everest to make your final assault!!!  Make sure you sop it all up… you are swimming the English Channel… how cool is that!  Not many people will ever experience what you are experiencing right now… and will be experiencing soon!  I didn’t make it and it was still one of the best adventures of my life!  Enjoy it all.

There is a lot I don’t remember in the hours and hours of swimming on my way to France… but I remember 2 specific things… I remember Allison Streeter saying “enjoy it… and don’t stop until you run out of water… and don’t have any doubt in your mind when you start, you can do it!”… and I remember specifically thinking at some random point during my crossing “wow… this is pretty cool… I’m swimming the English Channel…”  (of course, the other quote from my thoughts at the time was “I sure hope to hell I make it… because I don’t want to have to do this again!  haha… but I guess I will!).

I know the water is always cold, but I also noticed that you didn’t say anything about it… so I’m guessing you are doing okay with that… one less thing to worry about.  One nice thing about the delay I had was that it just gave me more time to acclimatize to the chilly water… which I’m sure you are doing too!

Also… that’s very cool about your Pilot Fred having escorted the great Cindy Nicholas on some of her 19 crossings… pass on a “hi” to Fred from Cindy… I’ll post this on the LOST site… and Cindy gets the LOST updates too!

Thanks for the update and keep in touch… good luck, buddy!… you can do it!  You can be the first Canadian to have the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming!!! (*EC, MIMS and Catalina).  Nobody deserves it more than you!  Go get’em champ! 

Good luck from all the LOSTies!!!

Cheers,

Rob

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I founded LOST Swimming because I like open water swimming and would like to see it grow and thrive in Lake Ontario. I started as a competitive swimmer as a kid and ended up getting as far as a silver medal at Nationals and going to the Olympic Trials in 1988. But I retired after that, I was sick of swimming. So I got into running marathons and have run over 35 to date, as well as a few ultra marathons, including the Marathon des Sables (7 day, ultra across the Sahara Desert). I also kind of fell into triathlons and have done a handful of Ironman tri's too. This gradually got me back in the water and in 2006 I took the plunge and attempted swimming the English Channel. I didn't quite make it across, but the circle was now complete and after 17 years I was a swimmer again! Although I still do plenty of pool swimming, I now much prefer open water swimming and like to say that open water swimming is to pool swimming, what trail running is to treadmill running! As a result I hope to encourage more people to join me for a dip in Lake Ontario as often as we can!