I saw the Aspire Channel Swim Challenge a few months ago. We had just watched a film about a quadriplegic man with a spinal cord injury (and cried) and I realised how important funding for help must be for people who suddenly find themselves much less able, due to spinal cord damage. I also have dreamt for years of swimming the Channel (the 22 mile wide stretch of water between England and France), so I thought that directing my effort towards this challenge would be a worthwhile and 'fun' thing to do.
The Aspire Channel Swim Challenge was 22 miles in 12 weeks. I thought we should make it even more challenging and do it in one week instead of 12. Swimming the distance in one week meant covering just over 5km per day. Kath decided to join me, which I was very happy about - 5km would be the furthest I had ever swum in one go and as she comes from a very strong swimming background, her advice would definitely be valuable.
Day 1- 5km
The baby woke just before 7am, so I had just about enough time to feed him whilst eating breakfast with the older boys and then I left home about 10 minutes before they left to go to school.
Kath and I met at the pool at 8am. We started with 500m warm up and then just started to swim. After a while, Kath said she was finding it boring and suggested we did a pyramid of 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 400, 300, 200, 100 which would total 2.5km and leave us a further 2km.
Kath and i ended up swimming 5.3km and 5km respectively.
Day 2 - 5.2km
It was raining when I left home, so I just cycled in my swimming costume... it was going to get wet anyway! I kept my clothes for afterwards dry in my waterproof bag.
Israel, Kath and Marie were all waiting at the pool at 7am when I arrived a few minutes late. Kath and Israel swam in the lane next to Marie and me - they went a bit faster. Marie and I swam 3.8km - the swim for an Iron distance triathlon. Then I had to leave to go to school to help with my son's class swimming lesson. I cycled most of the way with Israel, arrived at the school and was told as I arrived that there was no swimming lesson because the pump in the school pool was broken...!
That evening, the boys and I all went to the public pool where I swam 1200 metres on my own and then 200 metres with Sarah, breaststroke and chatting while the boys were having their swimming lessons.
5.2km for day two and a total of 10.2km so far.
Day3 - 5.1km
I met Tristen and Kath at the outdoor pool at 8am. Tristen had to go for an exam later that morning so needed to finish his distance fairly quickly. We swam side by side for 1500 metres with a drink break about half way through. He was swimming slower than he was capable of, but it was great having someone pace me stroke for stroke. It's rare that anyone swims like that, but very common to run next to someone.
After Tristen left I started swimming a 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 400, 300, 200, 100 pyramid but then about half way through, found that I had a rhythm so I just kept swimming up and down the pool and ditched the intervals. I did make myself stop every 1000 metres or so for a drink. I was conscious that, especially as I was breastfeeding, it was important to stay hydrated.
I reached a total of 15,300 metres by the end of my day 3 swim. It was hot by the time we were done and Kath bought me another drink as soon as I stepped out of the pool! I had super-sharp tan lines, despite wearing factor 50 and being out of the sun by 10am, even on the front!
In the evening I had a massage... it hurt.
Day 4 - 5.3km
I swam at the indoor pool this morning with Tristen and Marie for 1500m - Tristen had to leave, then we swam another 2.5km to get to 4km.
At the outdoor pool a little later, I finished off with 1200m on my own and 100m breastroke with Sarah to cool down.
My shoulders were aching but I was pleased to be over half way!
20,600m down and 14,820m to go!
Day 5 - 5.1km
On day 5 - a Saturday - I couldn't swim in the morning. I spent the day with the boys, Kath came over for cofffee (and gave me a shoulder massage!) and then once the children were in bed I went to the pool. This evening was the first day I swam solo for the Aspire Channel Swim. It was not as tough swimming alone as I thought it might have been. I focused on keeping my shoulders relaxed, arms soft and my cadence fairly fast and ended up quite enjoying the 5000 metres... then Jeffrey the friendly lifeguard offered to film me for this video, so I swam another 100 metres!
25,700 down and 9,720 to go.
Day 6 - 5.5km
We had a horrible night - just to remind me how lucky I am to have a baby who (usually) allows me to sleep so well!
Luckily I had Tristen to keep me company until 2600 metres this morning - then I managed only 900 metres more on my own before I started to notice myself swimming with my eyes closed...
I managed 3,500metres this morning and returned to the pool in the evening to keep the distance for day 7 manageable. I did 2km solo and as I got out of the pool the lifeguard showed me the moon. It was amazing - low between the trees, huge and fiery red. My camera doesn't do it justice but it was gorgeous!
31,200 metres done and just 4,220 left to swim tomorrow... almost in Calais...
Day 7 - 4.3km
We did it!!
We arrive in "Calais" this morning after a tough week, finishing off the Aspire Channel Swim with 4.3km this morning to make it 35.5km in a week!
Thanks so much to everyone who donated to Aspire on my behalf and thank you to Kath, Tristen, Israel, Sarah and Marie for putting in the miles to help me along the way. A special mention to my husband for doing more than his fair share of the childcare while I have been in the pool. Thank you.
Perhaps I'll do the channel crossing for real one day?!
Thanks to Kathryn Haesner and Jeffrey Astrologo Bebar for the videos.
If you would like to donate to Aspire, but haven't yet, click here.