How does one go about deciding to swim the English Channel? Well, there's the simple answer - it is there, therefore it must be swum! This is the same logic which has led to the taming of the seven seas, the climbing of the highest mountains and people shooting themselves into space, to name but a few feats of human endeavour.
I have swum for as long as I can remember and used to believe, when I was really young that if you could swim, you could just swim forever. When I got a little older I realised that this is not actually the case and that at some point you get tired and hungry.....I swam a little competitively at school, but nothing serious. Even through the years of university and travelling I managed to swim relatively regularly to keep fit.
The serious stuff started for me once I was embedded in the ‘real’ world of work. In 2003, over a beer I found myself accepting the challenge of doing the London Triathlon. At the time I was swimming to keep fit and had just started cycling the 7 miles to the office, but absolutely hated running. However, I figured that if I set myself the challenge I would have to get over this hatred, which I did. The hate of running eventually went away as I got fitter and I went on to complete in over 20 triathlons of varying distances over the following few years, as well as the London Marathon in 2006, just to do some seriously hardcore running to really get over the dislike of running!!
With each year in triathlon I found myself improving on the previous year's times. This was in part due to improvement in my equipment (although I never went on a crazy spending spree buying the latest and greatest of anything), but mainly due to an increase in my weekly training volume as well as a better understanding of how to stress the body effectively and feed it well.
I would start each year with a search of the Internet for races that I fancied. I always looked for something a little different from the year before, as well as the usual suspects, which became my benchmark events to see how I was improving . Whether it was a longer distance or different environment, I would sign up and then work out the training needed to get me to race day feeling strong and able to compete with confidence. My philosophy has always been to set myself the challenge and then work out how to get there. Rather than thinking; is it possible, have I got the speed, strength, endurance etc to complete the event. I'd rather set myself the challenge and push myself to get there, than spend months thinking about it, but never actually getting to the starting line.
In the last couple of years my time to train has been reduced with the arrival of my wonderful son. However, I had the bug for a high volume of weekly training sessions, but couldn't dedicate the time to the long bike rides needed to be competitive (with myself on previous years races). So, I looked for events that took the bike out of the equation - aquathlons, long open water swims, even long distance hiking. This meant that I would still need to train hard and regularly, but still able to make time for the family. Obviously dealing with sleep deprivation and training was another mental challenge, but I'll talk more about that in another post.
I have toyed with the idea of swimming the Channel for a long time, but was put off by what I thought I would have to do in terms of training. Getting information on the training required at the time was difficult, so I convinced myself that I wouldn't be able to fit the training in to my daily life and put the idea on the back burner. The idea then surfaced again early last year, so I did some proper research this time and spoke to Nick Adams who is a guru of open water swimming, having swum the Channel and current record holder of the round Jersey swim. Nick outlined what would be involved in terms of training for the Channel swim. I chatted this through with Mrs D who agreed to support the many hours I would be committing to swim in the coming years and then I booked my slot for Summer 2013.
I don’t know what path this blog will follow, but I hope you enjoy it!