Wednesday 27 June 2007

Split Channel Swim - Saturday 7 Hours, Sunday 6 Hours. 38.225KM Total


In the channel Swimmers forum this week, Damian and I have been having some banter which is not appreciated by everyone. I can understand that, but it is important in life to have some fun. We are all training for the channel, one of the toughest swimming challenges on planet earth. Last weekend was tough. Very tough, both mentally and physically. Having had three massages since I got out of the water on Sunday, I am still in pain. The mental side, I can get through by having fun. The physical pain just does not go away, but we will all get there with help, support and banter (piss taking where I come from) from each other. For those who don't like it. I apologise. For those who do, as they would say in Aus - "Good on ya mate!". I will continue where we left off on this blog...

Saturday June 23, 2007...

As my wife was running the "Race for Life" this week, I travelled to Dover all on me own (all say AAAhhhhh!). It was a changeable weather day on the Saturday, and having discussed lightning etc., in the forum, nothing prepared me for when it arrived at hour 6!

Damien arrived on the beach, and prepared himself for what would become one of the most incredible swims ever known to man. Yes I mean 3/4 hour in Dover habour!

Above: Damien clearly psyching himself up for a mammoth 45 minutes in the channel while Cliff helps wth the greasing up process as ever...

When I got in, the important thing is that I didn't think about 7 hours. I thought about the first feed at 2 hours. This meant, swimmers beach to the Eastern Dock, 4 times back and forth between the Eastern Dock and Prince of Wales Pier, then in for a feed. 2 Hours gone. 1/2 a banana, maxim, then off for a 1 hour swim before the next feed. And so it went on until hour six, with chocolate mini rolls at hours 5 and six. By hour 4, my left shoulder was absolutely killing me! It hurt like hell. All I did was think about other things. I turned the pain off and moaned to Cliff at every feed. Before I knew it, 6 hours had gone, with only 1 hour to go. Then the heavans opened up!

It's funny swimming in the rain. You can feel it hitting the back of your hat, and you can see it hitting the water. However, when the forked lightning started coming down, it scared the crap out of me. But I was nearly at hour 7, and despite this and the fact that it was incredibly rough over by the Eastern pier all day, at just gone 4pm I came ashore having completed 7 hours in the channel.

I went over to have a massage with Louise which was pre-booked by 'The General' and it was just what the Doctor ordered! If you're training in the harbour make sure you get Freda to organise one for you. After a long bath and a large steak, I retired to my room and went to sleep. There were no sheep involved (Channel Swimmers forum thing!).

Sunday June 24, 2007...

I arrived at the beach and interviewed Alison Streeter for BBC Radio Suffolk. I got a bollocking from the General for "being late on parade" when I was actually interviewing her daughter! Oh well, never mind. I'm used to them now. I got in the queue to be greased up and took some photos which have really made me laugh when I got home (apologies - no offence meant to anyone - honest)...

Above: "OK - just lift your arms up and I'll do the left one first!" - "Hurry up that really tickles!".

Below: "Come on let me give you a hand. I'll do the right one". (Great job being a channel swimmer greaser upper isn't it!)

When I got in the water, first of all I was cold. Really cold. It was dull, misearble, and my right shoulder was now killing me wheras my left was fine! I think I must have compensated too much the day before. I went through the same routine as the previous day, with the feeds, but I was shivering constantly. I honestly didn't know how I was going to do 6 hours. However, Cliff and Barrie were always there to spur me on. "Great Swimming" said Cliff. "You are like a different swimmer compared to yesterday". I kept thinking he was talking about someone else because I felt like shit! Somehow, just somehow, I swum into hour 6, and headed towards the shore at 5 hours 58 minutes on my watch. I waited in the water until 6 Hours, then thought "YEEESSS!!!". Split channel swim complete!

13 hours and 38.225 KM in two days. I was now willing the channel attempt on with all my heart. I am now ready for it!.


I can’t put into words how great it was to meet Cliff Golding at Tooting Bec Lido in March, which resulted in me training in Dover each weekend since the start of May.

I honestly believe that if I do get across, it will be because of Freda, Barry and Cliff's enthusiasm each week. I can’t believe how inspirational all three of them have been to me. Week after week they are always there, rain or sunshine. On Saturday I struggled badly due to shoulder pain. On Sunday I was cold for 5.5 hours out of 6. The thought of giving up in front of all three of them kept me going. It wasn’t an option. For that I am eternally grateful, and will remember this in the channel. Thank you so much for all of your help.



Monday 25 June 2007

A day off and visit to Dover Castle for Father's Day - Sunday June 17, 2007

Above: Dover Harbour from Dover Castle. The swimmers can be seen as little white splashes if you look carefully. The General and feeders etc., can also be seen on "Swimmers Beach".

The day after the "Champion of Champions" event, Sunday June 17, 2007, was Father's Day and I promised my son that I would take a day off training and visit Dover Castle with him. It was a great experience and I would recommend it as a "must do" if you visit Dover. However, when I got up there and looked down, I could see all of the group gathered on the beach, and I could also see swimmers training in the channel. I knew I should have been there, but I felt I needed a day off after yesterday's efforts! I'm glad I did, it was a great day out with my wife and son.

After the visit to the castle, we drove to the marina to take a look at the boat that will escort me across the channel, Andy King's new boat - Louise Jane. I really wanted to see it and get a feel of what it will be like for my support crew on the boat etc. Having seen the boat, it is another little tick in the box of things I wanted to do before the swim.

Above: Sebastian and Paul Hopfensperger explore the Louis Jane on Father's Day 2007.

It's a great boat and am looking forward to swimming alongside it all the way to France, then riding back to Blighty on it in triumph!



Monday 18 June 2007

Hoffy takes 5th Position in the B.L.D.S.A. "Champion of Champions" event in Dover Harbour, June 16, 2007

Above: The running start at the start of the first "Champion of Champions" event in Dover Harbour on Saturday June 16, 2007 - the 5 Mile swim.

This week's weekend training session was something quite different to the previous few weeks. This weekend I had entered in my second British Long Distance Swimming Association event (the first was the Colwick Park 4KM race). It was the "Champion of Champions" event, so called because there were three events the 5 Miles, the 3 Miles and the 1 Mile, and the fastest cumulative time was the winner, and thus the Champion of all three events.

I had never raced in the sea before. Until Colwick Park I had never raced in cold water before, but this was all good training for the channel. Having remembered the start at Colwick Park where there was much digging in the ribs with elbows, jostling for position and kicks to the face, I sharpened my elbows prior to the race. We all assembled on the start line (the beach where the waves brushed the shore) and waited for the whistle. The men and Women raced together, even though they were in separate races. Before I knew it, the whistle was blown by The General (Freda), and we ran into the sea, elbows flying all over the place. Once I got to a position where it was difficult to run any further, I dived into the water and started to swim. Looking up, I was already abut 50 Metres behind the leader. (Note for next race - Start right over on the left, there is a definate advantage!).

The race was long and very tough. The sea out between the 2nd and 3rd of the 4 Bouys was extremely rough, and the arms took a real battering as they came out of the water. I just put my head down and tried to keep a rythm 1,2,3, breathe right. 1,2,3, breathe left. 1,2,3, breathe right and so on... It was difficult. but it was the only way I could get across. It worked, and after 2 Hours 28 minutes and 52 seconds, I crossed the finish line, having sprinted and been flat out for the last 600 Metres or so, to keep the swimmer behind me at bay (Rob Deakin I think). I slowly came ashore and was greeted by my Coach John Stemp, wife Beccy and son Sebastian. I had really enjoyed that! It was tough but enjoyable.

Above: preparing for race number 2 - a 3 mile swim this time.

After a break of about 1.5 hours, we assembled for the second race. I was surprised to hear, that some regular weekend channel swimmers had not completed the 5 mile race because of tiredness, shoulder ache, cold and " was too rough" etc. I think the only way we are going to get across the channel is to turn all of that off in your mind and just swim through it. "Winners never quit. Quitters never win" springs to mind. Come on guys, we're in this together fight through it!!!!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the start of the 3 miles. This time I started right over on the left. The whistle blew, and I smoked it down the beach, into the water, dived forward, and I was right near the front! As can be seen from the picture below (in the middle - blue hat) I was about 4th at the start. Mentally, knowing we only had to go round the buoys three times rather than five, I picked up the pace and was in a medium fast sprint for the whole race. Again it was tough, with large waves pushing us backwards across the harbour, but I came in with a time of 1 Hour 15 Minutes and 21 seconds. What helped was that every time I came round to cross the finish line, Beccy, Sebastian and John were there shouting and cheering me on. That was a real motivator.

Above: The start of the 3 mile race in which I got a better start than the 5 mile race. Below: Formation swimming next to The Prince of Wales Pier during the 3 mile race (far right, blue hat).

Still getting my breath back, I plodded very gently to shore resting my arms. Just at the moment of standing up, a Jelly fish brushed right across the front of my face stinging both sides and my lips before proceeding down my left arm and stinging all of that. I stood up and screamed and swore my head off at it. I looked down and there it was. An ugly looking bastard with some kind of black core. F#@K I let him have a gobful! That spoiled a good race. However, after about 5-6 minutes the pain was gone and I was fine and recovered waiting for the last race - the 1 mile.

Above: Getting ready for the 1 mile race.

The 1 mile race started at about 4.45 pm. I got a great start and literally sprinted from start to finish. I remember thinking at the time, this was the equivalent of 64 lengths of a 25 Metre pool and I was flat out. I don't think that I have even done that in a pool! I had a massive battle with Simon Lee from start to finish. Try as I might, I just could not get past him. I was thinking of the Grand Prix how cars got in the slip stream then used the car in front to get past. I swam behind him then 1,2,3 pull out overtake, I got alongside him on the outside, but then he got me on the inside at the buoy! And so it went on. On the finishing straight alongside the Prince of Wales Pier, I pulled as fast as my arms would take me. I was touching his feet all the way down, but he beat me by 1 second! He finished in 20 Minutes 07 seconds, and I finished in 20:08. It was a great race.

At the presentation I was astonished to find out that out of the 28 starters, I was placed 5th in a total combined time of 04:04:21. It had been a great day (apart from the sodding jelly fish!).

Above: The finishers at the end of a hard day (I'm the one second left with the ski hat on!). The Mayor of Dover pictured 9th from the right.

The Mayor of Dover presented the trophies and we had a good chat about channel swimming, and town and county councils among other things. We were given a finishing certificate with our times on (see below).
The whole day was a different experience, and it gave me some idea of what it will be like in the channel when I am asked to sprint for a period of time to get past ships or heavy seas etc. Next week, back to training with Freda and the group! Looking forward to it. Oh, and by the way, my title sponsor, Dangerous Films, may be there filming for part of the TV documentary. That should be an interesting experience!

Click here to download the men's results (Requires Adobe)



Thursday 14 June 2007

Another 6 Hour, 17.15Km swim just to make sure!

Above: Ecstatic about the thought of another 6 Hour swim the day after the first one!

The night of my first 6 hour swim was agony. Staying at the wonderful Sandown Guest House, I tossed and turned all night and barley slept due to the pain in my shoulders. When I got up I was knackered! I ate a full breakfast of a bowl of cereal followed by Bacon, Egg, Sausage, and beans, followed by a Herbalife Formula 1 Milk Shake, a cod liver oil tablet, 2 x Hebalife Schizandra plus tablets, a full flask of Maxim and 2 x paracetamol. I felt quite full after that lot! Somehow I was going to have to swim again and drive through the pain!

When we got to the beach, it was a totally different day than the previous day. It was dull, misty and not very warm. I really did not want to get into that water! I looked round at Beccy and she said "You wanted to swim the channel". My bottom lip dropped, she laughed and took the photo above.

I stripped off, and Cliff put the vaseline in the necessary places (armpits, side of face where beard grows and back of neck). I looked down into my Speedos just to assure myself that it really was a decent size, not the size it became after a 6 hour swim! I then slowly walked into the water.

God it felt cold. Much colder than yesterday, but then again it was probably due to the fact that there was no sun out. It makes hell of a difference when the sun is out. I dived forward and started to swim towards the Eastern Docks doing the same course as yesterday (It turned out to be 14.1 Degrees Centigrade actually, the same as the day before but just with no sun on your back).

After about two hours, the fog cleared. It was still cold, but not unbearably so and I received probably about 6 jelly fish stings. But this was old hat now, no problems. I came in for feeds (Maxim, Banana and pain killers) at 2 hours, 4 hours, 5 hours, then there was just one hour to go. My shoulders really hurt. On the last hour, I slowed the pace down, and just swum to get through to hour 6. I was relaxed and in pain, but whenever it hurt, I just thought about something else. I switched off the pain. I headed towards swimmers beach at about 5 hours 50 minutes, and by this time the sea was really rough. Far rougher than the previous day's swim, but I was nearly there.

At 6.00 Hrs. I swum to shore, kneeled on the beach and was chuffed to bits! In two days I had swum 2 x 6 hours swims covering a total distance of 36.75 Km. This was a real milestone.

Above: Coming ashore after 6 hours. Relieved and pleased with myself.

I had now qualified to swim the channel not once, but twice in two days. Next week is the British Long Distance Swimming Association "Champion of Champion" event (5 Miles, 3 Miles then 1 Mile) in Dover Harbour. That should be easy after this most challenging but rewarding of weekends!



Monday 11 June 2007

Hoffy qualifies for the Channel with a 19.6KM, 6 hour swim!

Above & below : Ecstatic after emerging from the channel after 6 shoulder numbing hours and qualifying to swim the channel.

Even though I had completed 5 hours in the channel the previous Sunday, I had beaten myself up all week thinking that I had mentally failed the previous week. I was determined not to mentally fail this week. All week I had been thinking "6 hours on Saturday". "6 hours on Saturday...". However, I have found that if you just get in the harbour and think about just swimming 6 hours, you will probably fail. You need to break it down into smaller steps. In my case, I know that swimming from swimmers beach to the Eastern dock (770 Metres), 4 times back and forward across the harbour (4,600 Metres) then back to swimmers beach (770 Metres) = 6,140 Metres = 2 Hrs. That's all I think about for the first two hours. After two hours, it's in for a feed, ask Cliff [Golding] "How long now?". "1 hour then in for a feed" he replies. To me that means swimmers beach to the Eastern dock (770 Metres), 2 times back and forward across the harbour (2,300 Metres) then back to swimmers beach (770 Metres) = 3,840 Metres = 1 Hr. and so it goes on. Before you know it, by breaking it down into little chunks, you have swum for 6 hours, and completed 19,625 Metres. A new personal best! However, there are small hickups.

Today, the sun was beating down, and the water really was a nice temperature (14.1 degrees centigrade). Swimming at one stage from the Easter Docks to Prince of Wales Pier, I remember thinking "Today is a great day to be alive!". The sea was dead calm, the sun was out and the breathing was bilateral and superb, no problems. "1,2,3 breath left". "1,2,3 breath right". "1,2,3 breath left". Right the way across the harbour. 1,150 Metres! No problems, no tumble turns like in the pool, no stops, I was in my element, in total control, not cold, the sun was out, it was beautiful!

Swimming back towards the Eastern Dock, I felt a quick pain shoot up my left arm starting at my thumb and finishing near my armpit. It worried me. "Was this a heart attack?" was my first thoughts. But I felt alright. It was probably nothing. Then I felt similar things all over various areas of my body. Little pains like which felt like running through stinger nettles or something. It was really weird but not too painful so I carried on.

At the last feed on hour 5, Cliff gave us our feed (a hot Maxim and half a banana). "Well done Hoffy" he said "only another hour". He is always full of encouragement, and he was right. All of a sudden, I was the past 5 hour mark with only an hour to go. I headed off towards the Eastern Dock. My shoulders were really painful, but all I could think about was that I was going to do my 6 hours qualifying swim, and breaking it down into small segments like I had, it didn't seem nearly as far as the previous week's 3.5 hour or 5 hour swims.

I swum the last hour, then as I looked at my watch with about 200 Metres to go, it said 5 Hrs. 58 minutes. I reached the shore and stood up at 6 Hrs. 02 Minutes and screamed "YYYeeeessss!". I had done it. I had qualified for the channel, and it was easier than the previous two weeks swims, because I had mentally prepared myself for it all week.

I walked out. I wasn't even cold or hungry. I was chuffed to bits. 19.625Km in 6 Hrs. 02 minutesand I had qualified for the channel. I walked up to Freda who congratulated me, then gave me a certificate (see below). I had no idea we would get a certificate! This was a great day.

Above: 6 Hours certificate signed by Freda, The General, to confirm that I was now qualified to swim The Channel (it's a bit smudged because I got it wet on the day in the excitement).

After a few minutes, Beccy asked me if I had seen all the Jellyfish in the harbour. "No" I replied. She told me there had been loads of them, especially to the left of where I was feeding. She said that lots of people had been stung. It was then that I realised that my "Heart attack" had been a Jelly fish sting! Well, I had experienced it all now, and it really wasn't that bad. Nothing was. This really had been a great day!



Tuesday 5 June 2007

Dover Harbour - Sunday June 03, 2007, 5 Hour swim, 15.6KM, still mentally challenging.

Above: Setting off for my longest and most difficult swim yet, on a foggy Sunday morning in Dover.

Getting up at 07.00 Hrs. on the day after my 3.5 hour, 9.4KM swim, I ached but was fully focused on doing a 4 hour swim. That's what I had thought about all the previous afternoon, and evening, and that's what I was going to do. I looked out of the hotel window and noticed how foggy it was compared to the day before. The sun was just about visible through the mist, but it was totally different conditions to the previous day.

I covered myself in suncream, and rubbed Radion B into my aching shoulders, put my trunks on and walked down to the beach. The General was there bright and early, and we had a good chat about getting the body to feed off itself in the channel. "It's really tough out there" she said "and you've got to let the body feed off itself and see how it feels. When you experience it in the channel you need to be able to fight through it otherwise you won't get across". Everyone arrived and we went through the usual routines. The same as yesterday she said "Red hats. 5 hours. Come in for a feed after 2 hours then every hour. Off you go". That didn't mean me of course because I was doing 4 hours. I got in and started to swim.

I went off on my own and swam at what felt like a comfortable pace. It was cold like the day before, but beacuse the sun wasn't out, there were no warm patches and so the temperature was better. After 2 hours, I came in for my first feed, which today was being given by Barry. Freda had told me before I got in that she prefered it if we all had the same mixture rather than me drinking my own. I came up to shore, and the helpers leant forward to give us our plastic cup full of WARM Maxim (I normally drunk mine cold). This felt good as it warmed the entire body up as it went down.

Above: Left, Kevin Murphy who has swum the channel an incredible 34 times, stops for the two hour feed while I swim off having just had mine. Cliff Golding (standing) administers the Maxim.

At the 3 hour feed, Cliff Golding passed me my Maxim and asked me how long I was doing. "4 Hours" I said. "OK" he replied. After the feed my shoulders really began to ache, and I was swimming along thinking about how good it will be when I got out in less than an hour. I passed the 3.5 hour mark and thought "Yes, this is my longest swim to date" and started feeling very pleased with myself. However, my shoulders really began to hurt. Unbearably so. On advice given by Ed Williams who swam the channel in 2006, I will be taking 2 x Ibuprofen tablets at the start, followed by alternate paracetamol and Ibuprofen at two hour intervals. However, I was not doing this today, and wished I was. At the 3.75 hour mark, I turned towards home and could barely get my arms out of the water because my shoulders hurt so much. God they hurt. As I approached shore at 3 Hrs. 58 minutes, I thought "Nearly there - then YEEESSSS! Done it. 4 Hours!! Awsome!".

I slowly crawled out of the water (pictured above), physically unable to stand. "What are you doing" said Barry. "Getting out I replied". "He says he's getting out" shouted Barry to The General. "WHAATT!!!" she replied. Barely able to lift my head because my neck and shoulders were so sore, I slowly did so. It was like slow motion on the telly. The General came storming down the beach shouting and waving her arms at me. I have got no idea what she said but all I heard was "...5 hours...5 hours...across the channel...get back in there!". Something like that. It was like a bad dream and all souned quite surreal. I lifted up my arm and took a Maxim drink, not even having the energy to speak. Cliff Golding stood beside me. "Bad news?" he said with a wry smile on his face. "Yes" I said in a soft voice. "I've got to do 5 hours". "Yes. She often does that" said Cliff still smiling. I looked at him, turned round, crawled back into the water, and started to swim.

Above: Having the last and unexpected Maxim drink at 4 hours before turning round and crawling back into the sea.

I didn't know where I was, what day it was or how I was going to swim for another hour. I plodded off with the aim of doing one complete 2,395 Metre triangle in the harbour. Swimming off my arms were barely coming out of the water. To cap it all I was hungry. I was really hungry. "How much Maxim was in that cup" I thought. "Was there enough?". Because I hadn't mixed it I had no idea. I was cold, hungry and in pain. Nothing serious then. On the Friday evening, Beccy had had a huge portion of chocolate gateaux. I started imagining it. I started imagining diving into it and covering it all over my face. I was so bloody hungry. I could have eaten anything that anyone gave to me.

Eventually I reached the point where I was to turn for home at 4.75 Hours. The last hour had gone quite quickly really. I plodded home, with arms that felt the size of Arnold Schwarzennegger's, but with the strength of a sparrow's legs. They were shot to bits. I reached swimmers beach and crawled out. "Well done!" said Barry and Cliff. Beccy threw a towel round me and I said "Give me some food please. anything. I am absolutely starving". She gave me a half eaten sausage roll, and some cold "hot chocolate" which I gulped down. I got dressed into as many clothes as I could, the most important thing being to cover the head up (see below).

Above: Dressed for a skiing holiday, on a warm sunny day in June after a 5 hour swim in Dover Harbour.

After about 30 minutes of shaking profusely, and eating everything that was put in front of me, I realised that I had done 5 hours at 13 Degrees Centigrade covering 15.6KM. Even though I had thought that I couldn't go on any longer, I had done it. It was mind over matter. I can assure you I am now fully focussed on doing my 6 hour channel qualifying swim next weekend. I hope The General doesn't make us do 7 hours!



Dover Harbour - Saturday June 02, 2007, 3.5 Hours swim, 9.4KM, a mentally tough day.

Above: Head up looking for Beccy as I come in for a feed in a very choppy Dover Harbour.

We were told by the General to arrive at Swimmers Beach at 09.00Hrs. this week. It will be like that now for the rest of the season. Getting there early we assembled into two groups, those swimming in July, and those swimming later. The General gave us all a lecture, which was 100% spot on. I will not repeat in here but all those who were there know what she said.

"July Swimmers" she said "Red hats. 5 hours. Come in for a feed after 2 hours then every hour. Off you go". I looked across at Beccy and said quietly "5 hours" lifting all 5 fingers to emphasise the fact. I did it again. "5 hours" I said looking at all 5 fingers to to make sure they definately added up to 5. Barry put the vaseline on the potential sore spots (neck, armpits, inner thighs), then I looked round at Beccy and said "5 Hours" once again, just in case she might have said "You don't have to do 5 hours" or something similar. But she didn't, she said, "I'm going up the town to get a book". My heart sank. The reason was that I simply hadn't prepared myself mentally for 5 hours. I had prepared my mind for 3.5 Hours having done 3 Hours the week before. I got into the 13 Degree Centigrade water and swum away in shock, repeating "5 hours, 5 hours". The water was dead calm, like a mill pond and easy to swim in.

Now this is a funny thing. When I got up in the morning, it was very hot and sunny, so had coated my entire body in Nivea Sun - Children's Sun Lotion - Utra 50+ Long-Lasting Water Resistance sun cream. When I entered the water it felt really cold. But as I swum, I kept entering warm patches which felt like a bath. When I suddenly hit a cold (13 Degrees patch again) it felt REALLY cold and I screamed out loud unrepeatables! It really knocked you off your stride, and I preferred it to be just cold, rather than warm, cold, warm, cold...etc.....

After about an 15 minutes, I met Sandy and Connor and we swum back and forth across the harbour doing a few sprints, but due to the above, I was shivering in the water. After 30 minutes, a wave hit me, which I assumed had come from a ferry. Then another one, and another. I looked up, and just like that, the weather had changed. The water had become really rough. It was lifting the side of my swim cap up, and water was seeping through my ear plugs into my ears. It was really rough and unpleasant. At two hours and having swum 5,4KM I came in for my first feed.

Above: Feeding in the harbour. Beccy throws it in in my Herbalife Shaker filled with Maxim, which I drink throw it back, then continue swimming.

I continued for the next hour with Sandy and Connor, covering another 3.25KM. My shoulders were starting to hurt, but more than anything I was shivering in the water, even though the sun was beating down on my back. I did not know how I was going to do 5 hours in this. I was thinking to myself, "3.5 hours today, 4 hours tomorrow, then 5 hours next week." This is what I had in my mind before I got into the water and it just goes to show what a mental attitude does for you. We lost Connor somewhere, and Sandy and I looked at each other and decided to call it a day after 3.5 hours and a total of 9.4KM.

We swum to shore, and even though it was my longest swim to date (3.5 hours and 9.4KM), I was really pi#@ed off with myself. I had defeated myself mentally before I had even got in the water because I had not been prepared for 5 hours. I had mentally prepared myself for 3.5 hours, and guess what? that's what I did. Funny that isn't it?

Above: Early evening in Dover, having showered, slept and recovered, standing next to the two swimmers statues near swimmers beach.

I went back to the hotel room, showered, slept for 2 hours, then walked down to the harbour and had the above photograph taken. I thought to myself, "I will do 4 hours tommorrow, and 5 next Saturday, then 6 on Sunday". I was still having negative thoughts and went to bed that night feeling really annoyed with myself over the whole day. Beccy said to me "I really thought you would do 5 hours". I knew she was disappointed, but so was I. It was the first time I had given in. Having swum in 7 and 8 degrees all over the winter, I was cold and mentally defeated at 13 degrees. I had to snap out of it for tomorrow's swim.


Monday 4 June 2007

Virtual Channel Swim @ Culford School Sports Centre - Sunday May 27, 2007

Above: A small group of swimmers from Sudbury & District Swimming Club, West Suffolk Masters Swimming Club and Hoffy's "Virtual Channel Swim Team", assemble prior to each team swimming 1,344 lengths of Culford School's 25 Metre Pool.

As a means of raising additional funds for CLIC Sargent and St. Nicholas' Hospice, a group of swimmers assembled at Culford School the day after I completed my longest swim to date, and with shoulders still aching badly, and neck and shoulder raw from the previous day's adventures in the sea (see picture below).

Above: Shoulders and neck raw from 3.5 hours of pounding in Dover Harbour the day before the Virtual Channel Swim.

The idea was very simple. The English Channl is 21 miles across in a straight line. That equates to 1,344 lengths of a 25 Metre swimming pool. With six lanes between the three teams, we took two lanes each, and at 12.30pm we started to swim. At all times there was someone in each team swimming. We swam until we had swum 1,344 lengths per team. My team consisted of myself, Nick Amor, a solicitor at Gross & Co Solicitors, Glyn Hammond and Sean MacKenzie who swim with me in the mornings at Culford School, Mike Read who has swum the English Channel 33 times, Tom Gunning who swum the channel for 7 hours in 2006 before having to give up due to severe weather conditions, and two of Mike's friends Chris Berry and Gareth. I would like to thank you all personally for swimming. We all finished by 5pm and I think everyone enjoyed their day.

Above (left to right): Hoffy, Tom Gunning and Mike Read celebrate completing 1,344 lenths of Culford School pool.

I would like to personally thank the following people for all the effort they made to get the event up and running:-

There are two more clubs, Mildenhall and Stowmarket who are doing the swim in their own pools in June. Good luck to you all, and once I have an update with all the funds raised, I will post it here with all the photos.

Thank you eveyone for supporting this event, including my wife Beccy and my son Sebastian, who constantly give up their weekends to help me achieve my dream of swimming the English Channel.