Thursday, 11 August 2011

And so it begins... (post by Paul Greenhalgh)

Hi, I'm Paul, - or The Sadist as Wayne has called me more than once.  

Quite where this all started is a bit hard to pin down. Certainly it seems that Wayne’s 2010 English Channel swim ignited a burning coal in his skull – that place where a formerly logical and rational brain used to function. Fanning the flames might have been a bit of madness brought on by the English weather, a smidgen of mid-life crisis and definitely too much testosterone-infused-talk combined with Guinness intake. Because it was in a pub (isn't it always?), on a winter’s night, six months later, where we identified that:

1.       Wayne had a burning desire to do another swim,
2.       He wanted it to be significant, or put another way, he wanted his Andy Warhol-esque 15 minutes of fame,
3.       He felt confident to do something similar in length to the English Channel,
4.       A glance at Google Maps on his phone suggested that the gap between the Mull of Kintyre and the north east corner of Northern Ireland seemed to fit the bill, and
5.       It appeared that no-one had yet successfully completed this swim.

So far, so good.

Interesting facts which were not apparent on that hazy evening, but which have subsequently come to light include:

·         That stretch of water is exceptionally treacherous - it's not just a case of strong currents but  of conflicting strong currents moving against each other, the opposing sheets of water causing tempestuous races and whirlpools,
·         The water temperature's significantly colder than at Dover,
·         When the water's warmest (relatively speaking...), it's also full of jellyfish (which really are a genuine issue, multiple jellyfish stings are biggest reason for failure of the swims that are attempted on the 'traditional' route further south)
·         Occasionally, (and it is just occasionally Wayne), orcas are spotted in this channel of extraordinarily cold, deep and turbulent water.

However, blissfully unaware of any of this, another round of drinks was purchased, backs were slapped, glasses were clinked and a challenge was born.
Wayne likes pork pies and Guinness. He likes routine and predictability. He loves his family. He's 40+, short(ish), balding and battling with waistline expansion. He's been known to occasionally play a good round of golf, likes to tinker with 'stuff' and has rescued a group of friends from the African wild by fixing a Land Rover with a jellybaby.

He's never been a great fan of physical exertion. In short (apart from the jellybaby incident), Wayne is an ordinary person. And he's about to do something really amazingly, astoundingly and astonishingly extra-ordinary. He's going to swim the the treacherous, never-been-swum-before channel between Kintyre (Scotland) and Ballycastle (Ireland). For charity. This is his story.