Today was the culmination of years of dreaming and planning.
2011: Sometime in the summer or fall of 2011, one of my best friends Alison showed me the movie On A Clear Day, about a man who swims the English Channel, I loved the name (it is the inspiration for the hashtag I eventually picked) and started mulling over the idea of swimming the Channel myself one day.
2015: In March 2015, one of my other best friends Vanessa Slavich leveraged her connections and introduced me and our other coworker Lindsay to Kimberley Chambers, the world-class swimmer and overall stellar human being. On that day, I promised that I’d swim the English Channel. Kim has since become a mentor and friend, and encouraged me to join the South End Rowing Club in San Francisco where I’ve found an amazing local community of swimmers.
2016: In December 2016, a few months out of my first big swim (Catalina), I decided to sign up for the English Channel. I talked with my fellow South Ender Melissa Blaustein, and we decided to sign up together for the same slot with Andy King, Kim’s pilot.
This all brings us to today! After months of training and prep (a lot of it together with Melissa), I finally swam the English Channel.
We had a gorgeous day (I could see France clearly from land in England!) and I had a great start (except for the rocky beach on the English side – I hate rocky beaches).
I was told afterwards my pace in the beginning was on track for a sub-10hr swim! My stroke count was high and I was feeling stellar. However, somewhere near France, the tide really shifted, and I lost some focus. We had started in a mostly straight line, but ended up drifting way south (see map, below). I was getting in to a bad spot mentally, having trouble keeping my stroke count up and looing looking at land and not the boat as instructed. Andy the pilot reached his head over the boat and yelled out to me. He told me that if I didn’t start getting it together, he was going to pull me and end the swim. I hate disappointing myself and others, so I dug deep, focused, and eventually got to a better rhythm and so I could finish the swim. I made sure to stay staring at the same point on the starboard side of the boat, a dolphin emblem painted on, picking up my speed and strokes as needed to match.
We got closer to land on the French side, and Andy hopped out of the big fishing boat into a smaller inflatable RIB to escort me to land. I swam in to the beach and to my delight, it was sand! I got up and ran to clear the water line as fast as I could to end the swim. Success! After a too-brief celebration alone on shore, I swam back out to the inflatable to get back in the bigger boat and ride back with everybody to England.
Once I got in the inflatable, Andy admitted he was never going to pull me and this was a tactic to get inside of my head. Clearly, it worked.
I really appreciate my crew: my mom and other best friend Mandy Hoskinson did an amazing job supporting me with feeds, encouragement, and even more encouragement from far away by collecting commends and live-streaming the last part on Facebook. I couldn’t have done this swim without either of them.
The resulting path ended up being about 32mi and my swim finished on the sandy beaches in France after 12hr17min. I was hoping for sub-12hr, but given the toll the tide took on me, I’m still proud with the overall result. I’m glad to have finished my 3rd of the Ocean’s Seven (and 2nd of the Triple Crown). I look forward to recovering, and eventually swimming up the next ones!