Monday, 27 August 2012
Sunday, 26 August 2012
In terms of logistics, the crew will have passed Wayne a glow stick to his swimming trunks as well as to the side of the boat. Wayne will focus on these glow sticks in order to position himself in the water, as there is nothing else to use in order to find your bearings.
Wayne was very keen to do as little as possible swimming in the dark... Hopefully we can finish this soon then!
In the agonising static that is coming from the Irish Sea, frantic correspondence is happening between people across the world. Spare a thought for the long-suffering Bernie, who has put up with many disturbed mornings and late nights due to Wayne's training schedule, and now, sitting at the Command Centre in Bagshot with her two children, and not knowing what is going on as her hubby bobs around in his eighth hour in the freezing, jellyfish-infested, angry water. One can imagine her anxiety - it came across heart-wrenchingly clearly in her most recent SMS: "The next time Wayne comes back pissed from the pub with a effing map under his arm I'm booting him to the curb!!!"
While we wait for news, let's chat about who's who on the boat crew.First up there's Paul. Paul is the co-instigator of the Really Big Adventure. He was there in the pub on that fateful night when, after a couple of beers, The Plan was hatched. Paul has been Wayne's manager in this endeavour - or is the trendy word nowadays 'handler'? He's certainly done a better job looking after his charge than Prince Harry's minders have done. Today he dons the additional hats of jellyfish/orca spotter, co-swimmer and motivator.Second up there's Jonny. Jonny, like Paul, supported Wayne during the English Channel swim. His energy levels might lead one to suspect a urine sample would show traces of Ritalin. But Jonny's just one of those people with enviable levels of energy. He's Wayne's rah-rah man, a cheerleader sans pompoms. And a superb one at that. He also has a speedo handy and will hop in to keep Wayne company when he needs it. And he looks out for jellyfish.Sean McCarry is wearing the captain's hat. This means he calls the shots as to when, where and how. He assures the team he didn't go to the same captain etiquette school as Francesco Schettino, the dude who ran the Costa Concordia aground off Italy earlier this year. Cpt McCarry has driven the endeavour from the Irish side. A man of stature in many respects.
Jo and Carlos - navigators. Critical for keeping the swim on course through the passage of erratic currents and tidal turbulence. Also quite important is that they apply their skills to dodging wind farms, tidal turbines, submarine testing grounds and any jellyfish flotillas. And Wayne.Mark is the on board entertainment officer and catering cad. He feeds the boys' tummies and also their psychological state. His natural ability with the spoken word means he's also in charge of boat comms.Gerard. If he was so inclined, he would make for a superb wedding planner. He's planned, coordinated, promoted and networked in a way that would be the envy of any self-respecting event organiser. A real people person and a valuable asset to the team, for sure.Gary is the monitor - he will officially ratify the swim for the Irish Channel Swimming Association. He has spent many hours in this stretch of water and (aside from having a mad hobby - I mean, swimming in treacherous waters WTF) is a valuable source of information about the conditions. He's also doing a fantastic job motivating and motivation for wayne. It's reassuring that he knows a lot about jellyfish stings too.
He has had a few tough feeds - morale is a bit low and he is beginning to express doubts. As Paul said - he only has about 2 - 3 hours left - this is what the swim is all about.
Go WAYNE!!!! you can do it!
And that the more common name of the orcinus orca is The Killer Whale?
And that killer whales migrate through the Northern Channel?
And that killer whales, referred to as wolves of the sea, are territorial?
And that Wayne will be slicing through their migration route? Just saying....
Wayne will be using a massive amount of energy over the duration of the swim. He will obtain this from two sources: his stored body fat (yes, he was for a stage really referred to as “fat boy Soutter”!) and the nutrients he takes in during the swim. Oh, yes, and even though he is in near-freezing water, he is dehydrating, so taking in copious fluids is just as important to avoid hitting the ‘wall’.
He will be ‘fed’ by his zookeepers on the boat every half an hour. This will include 250ml of water, as hot as he can take it to bring up his core temperature, mixed with two energy supplements - SIS Go fuel (which has some taste, but ironically for someone stroking through the freezing Irish Sea, he goes for ‘tropical’ flavour), and is packed with carbohydrate, and Maxim, which is tasteless but packed with power too.
Every one and a half hours, he stops for a snack too, either half a banana or the innocuously named ‘porridge’, which we believe he found in a long-lost annexure to Lance Armstrong’s memoir. No, actually, it’s simply porridge - something to fill the belly.
And there’s another thing: given the severely strict rules of solo open water crossings, in true seal fashion this stuff is literally tossed to him, so there is no physical contact with him at any time.
And so it goes, until that hand strikes land... and be rest assured there will be a beef and guinness pie and a pint of Ballycastle's finest on order.
Paul is also helping Wayne to spot Jelly Fish - it places a huge strain on Wayne's neck to look forward continuously, so to have someone else looking out for them is an enormous help.
Jonny will take over once Paul has done his hour.
"Slight swell now. Progress is good. The first part of this swim was always going to be the most challenging and it could not have gone better. So far so good now as the tide slackens we need to make good progress across the channel."
It seems Zeus and Poseidon got the memo for today's swim. The weather is fair and the tides as predicted. Let's hope they can keep a cap on sibling rivalry issues for the rest of the day as Wayne has plopped into the water and the swim has started.
Friday, 24 August 2012
I can't believe the swim is nearly upon us. Been spending time with Carlos, Paul and my Dad over the past 2 days doing some last minute route checking and fine tuning.
I am very fortunate to have such a great team of committed and intelligent people behind this swim, without it, it wouldn't ever have been possible.
My team will consist of:
Sean - Captain
Paul - Swim Manager
Carlos - Navigation
Joe - Navigation
Jon - life blood of the boat and the swim
Mark - Communications man.... know something about everything. Except about women.
Gerard - Coordinator & planner in Ballycastle.
Gary - Observer
Back home we have:
Bernie - communications HQ
Lauren - ghost writer extraordinaire!
Thanks guys... will try to make it all worth while!
Luckily I have the face for radio - doing two live interviews with BBC today: BBC Belfast with William Crawley at 13:20 and BBC Radio Foale with Mark Tyreson at 14:30.
and then there's this: http://www.campbeltowncourier.co.uk/2012/08/17/swimming-springboks-west-coast-challenge/
Thursday, 23 August 2012
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Jellyfish, a deceptively innocuous name for a rather vicious blobby bit of skeleton-less, skinless cartilage. The Darwinian principle of survival of the fittest mean that, in the absence of a heart and brain, the jellyfish had to evolve something with which to defend itself. This it did with aplomb – by lining up its cells into long strips of incredibly stingy tentacles. I am very, very afraid of these tentacles. The mere sight of a jelly in the waters turns my inside to custard.
My swim will see me invade the territory of the rather nasty Mauve Stingersas well as the tellingly named Lion’s Manevarieties. And, thanks to the USA’s repeated demonstrations of what happens following a territorial invasion, I am primed to expect a little bit of backlash from the gelatinous inhabitants of the Northern Channel.
Margaret, someone who previously attempted the swim, shared her experience with me. She discussed the enormous challenges presented by the cold and the tides and the weather. And the *drumroll* jellyfish. In her words: “A mega problem”. Life threatening in fact. A few weeks ago on Dover beach, Kevin Murphy, a seasoned channel swimmer type, buoyed my spirits by advising that if I did get stung, modern medicine and a short stay in hospital under sedation should see me recover, provided I am timeously transported. He knows because he’s got the proverbial t-shirt three times already. And then finally, just yesterday Diana Nyad said she’d had enough of interacting with jellyfish http://news.sky.com/story/975445/cuba-us-swimmer-quits-after-jellyfish-stings .
I refuse to be swayed off course by something with no sentient thought processes. And so I put my faith in Paul and Jon who will be my jellyfish spotters. And medivac if necessary. In the end, I’m really hoping that Dr Jonathan D R Houghton’s years of studying jellyfish give credence to his opinion that the Mauve Stingers aren’t out in full force and that the Lion’s Manes appear to be on their last legs (tentacles?) and are dying off rapidly.
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
Ideal would be 10 - 12 knots.
If wind is blowing with the tide it's ok, if against tide it's choppy.
There are many, many more enjoyable ways to spend a Sunday, so one must assume that Wayne must be a pretty special specimen to warrant such a substantial gesture of camaraderie. And indeed he is.
It came as some surprise then, to both me and the skipper of the accompanying boat, when Wayne conquered the English Channel not so long ago. Missing the crucial turn of the tide, Wayne hung in there for close on 20 hours in an exemplary demonstration of stamina and endurance and sheer pig-headedness. In that moment when he flopped ashore in France, two things seemed changed: firstly he was several pounds lighter and secondly a burning coal had ignited where his brain used to be. Apparently only a nine hour swim in icy cold, jellyfish infested, tide turbulent waters is going to douse that flame.
Sunday, 19 August 2012
Looking at the Met Office 5 day forecast, next Thursday the wind seems to be subsiding (5 to 10 knots) and turning from SW, which I would be swimming straight into (not good), to SE which will be hitting me in the face but allow me to cross faster.
My training this past week was ok, I didn't quite hit my training targets, but it was good enough. Only problem is that I got a little ear ache (starting to clear) and my right shoulder is fairly tender. I am not going to swim at all this week, give my shoulder a chance to recover and hopefully be fresh for the swim.
My bulk swim feed (Maxim carbohydrate) arrived while I was away, so my feed, costume (purchased a new one and tested it last week) and new googles (also tested) are ready to go!
Now we wait and see if the weather is good enough next weekend to swim i.e. the wind stays low. All other considerations are out of my control i.e. water temperature, jelly fish and tides
Saturday, 18 August 2012
Thursday, 16 August 2012
You can familiarise yourself with the man and the outcome of his pie eating habit and Toastmaster membership at http://youtu.be/vy9vHpN00I0 while he chats to the camera about his recent trial swim.
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Now let me go put away a couple more pastries.
Wednesday, 8 August 2012
Training is actually going ok, did 4 hours last weekend and felt strong. Next week I will be doing a number of 3 hours swims in a lake which will add strength and speed.
At the moment, the biggest risk is the cold. Because I am doing so much training, the weight is falling off me and I am struggling to eat enough.
Weekend before last I went up to Ireland to do a test swim, climbed in 1 mile off-shore, swam directly at the shore for 1 hour and .... finished up 1 mile off-shore. Oops. Didn't exactly go as planned, but we did learn from it. The currents are so much stronger than I imagined, just mind blowing! When I was stopping next to the boat to take a feed during the 1 hour swim, I was travelling at times at 10.6km per hour! and I wasn't even swimming!
The biggest surprise was the jellyfish. I knew there would be some, but it was the massive number that was, quite frankly, terrifying. I was seeing a big jelly fish every 20 to 30 seconds. Most were down around 5 feet and therefore not a problem, but now and again there would be one near the surface and I would need to swim around them. I really didn't want to be stung and kept looking forwards.... by the end of the 1 hour swim I had a very sore neck. Can't do that for the 9 hours. So need to find an alternative solution.
Fund raising is picking up, the company next door to our office is owned by an incredible guy called Kevin Dougall (he owns D-media and the Red Lion Pub in St Margaret's at Cliffe) who heard about the swim and overnight is sponsoring about £2000 worth of kit / collateral etc to help Community Rescue Services raise money. Humbling.
Can't wait... am both excited and terrified!