Sooo, swimming the channel. The day before, I slept for nearly 3 hours in the afternoon. I woke up at 4, and started to feel a little despondant. I had been told I could be going monday night, that turned out not to be the case, so to be hanging on for the phone call to give me a time to head to the docks took nerves of steel.I nearly gave in to it all, until lo and behold, Paul called at 7.30- his swimmer that day had taken far longer than expected- one of only 3 to complete out of 8 boats which was a little nerve wracking to hear…Still, we were to head to Dover marina for 2.15am. The high tide was 2.40 and in hind sight (oh, that glorious 20/20 mind bender) I was expecting and hoping to start an hour before high tide, but I didn’t say anything as I figured the pilot knows best.
ONe boat set off that precious hour early, the rest of us queuing up to load our respective boats. It was the first time I had met Paul my pilot- and his side kick Ray. My observer was a frighteningly young lad called Dan…I joked about his student-like appearance, thanking him for giving up his time, doing nothing.. He seemed a quiet but good sport.
So, all loaded, we set off for SHakespeare beach around the corner form the marina. At the last minute, we gathered, our odd little flotilla of boats, all lit up with swimmers getting greased. Byron slathered me in factor 50 sun cream then slapped on the vaseline. I felt calm, but odd standing there in the pitch black. My lights- flashing one on the back of my goggles, long solid light tied through a hole in my cozzie on my mid back glowing green. Then they pitched their search light on the beach and with goodbye, see you in France’s said, I ducked into the water and paddled ashore. The water was actually a lovely temperature- I felt relaxed and my breath didn’t catch at all. I walked above the water, looked at the boat and started my swim.