So, it’s done. It was a weird one, not at all what I expected. Organising a new venture had a good deal of leeway but with that some valuable lessons to take forward.
Support crew are rarified saints. Getting commitment from people who are offering their time for your dreams is humbling and hard work in equal amounts. I elected to pay my lead support, to keep it directed and allow for conviction. Martin was perfect. His attitude was right, capable and positive without being gung-ho. That’s my job. Light hearted enough to joke and tease in the run up whilst I knew without a shadow of doubt that he would and could do whatever was needed.
I always have ‘that talk’ about what to do I the worst possible case, given that my son would be left….. Martin and I had that talk swimming out into the sunset the day before the swim. It gets it out of my head and allows us to track back and figure signposts along the way. It is a dangerous thing I put myself through, but essentially, with the training I do, it would be down to bad luck or just my time.
All the publicity surrounding this swim has been bizarre-so far out of my comfort zone and I was very unsure about doing the news pieces 2 days before travel and then on the day of the swim before and after- would it affect my concentration, take me out of my headspace when I need to be so deep inside as to be almost numb in focus. It all went brilliantly. It’s been humbling and overwhelming and it hasn’t hit home how this swim has affected people. That still feels ‘other.’
Working with someone who had never piloted before was interesting. It was a real pioneering spirit that I saw in Mark that led me to believe he could get me there. Practicing with drag bags to stabilise the boat for days before the swim was still no match for the real thing. Less than an hour into the swim, martin hopped into the kayak as the boat could not maintain course as the bags were getting swept by tide and current, dragging the boat off course. So side by side, swimmer and kayaker headed out alone, hoping the boat would be sorted, or it would be a long paddle for martin, with the boat only for directional guidance from a distance.
If that had been the case, I knew martin would have done it.