Monday 28 September 2009

British Long Distance Swimming Association - Lynn Regis Championship 2009

Above: British Long Distance Swimming Association (BLDSA) 2009 President, Jacky Classen, with me prior to handing back the 'Senior Men' (right) and 'Veteran Mens' (left) Trophies which I won at the 2008 Lynn Regis event - eventually! (click here for more).

On Saturday September 26, 2009 we set off for Kings Lynn in North Norfolk, to hand back the two trophies I had won at the 2008 BLDSA Lynn Regis Championship. Not having swum much this year, I would not be trying to defend my titles, but will hopefully be able to do so next year. When we got there we sat next to the BLDSA Hon Publicity Officer, and English Channel Swimmer, Dee Llewellwyn who I had such a great race with last year. She told me she had been ill for much of the year so was also not swimming. We wish you a speedy recovery Dee.

Race secretary Stephen Smith called everyone to order, men first followed by the ladies to enter the water. In the men's race was 2009 English Channel Swimmer, Ollie Wilkinson, and in the ladies race was Dee's sister and 2009 2-Way English Channel Swimmer, Lianne Llewellwyn.

Above: Swimmers enter the water. Second left, No. 26, is 2009 2 Way English Channel Swimmer, Lianne Llewellyn and her sister Dee, holding the camera at the front.

Above: The start of the 4.5KM race in The River Ouse, Kings Lynn, Norfolk.

Above: Beccy and I watch this years race with Luca and Dee Llewellyn.

Above: 2009 Senior Men's Winner and 2009 English Channel Swimmer, Ollie Wilkinson who won the race in 59.3 minutes.

After the race, we headed up to the beach in Hunstanton. The sun came out and it turned into a beautiful and very hot day. During the day, we started the ball rolling to organise a pretty unique swimming challenge for summer 2010. I will update the blog very soon with further information as soon as it is finalised.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Sylvain Estadieu's English Channel Swim. England to France, September 20-21, 2009 - 14 Hrs. 44 Minutes

Above: Me (left) with Sylvain Estadieu on the quayside at Dover Marina prior to his 14 hour 44 minute successful swim of The English Channel on Sunday September 20, 2009.

On Sunday September 20th, I was one of three crew members to crew for Sylvain Estadieu, a French national currently living in Ireland. The other two were Niall MacCarthy, a Sandycove Swimmer from Ireland, and Dan Martin who will be attempting to swim the Atlantic in 2010. We had stayed the night in Lisa Cummins's caravan at Varne Ridge the night before. Lisa was just hours away from completing a historic, 35 hours and 20 minute 2 way channel swim, the first Irish person and only the 20th person in history to complete a 2 way (click here for further information). We boarded 'Gallivant' captained by CS&PF Honoury Secretary, Mike Oram, and set off for Samphire Hoe.

Sylvain entered the water and swum ashore to be greeted by a group of people who had assembled to see him off. This included Ned Dennison a well known and respected open water swimmer who had also stayed at Varne Ridge the previous night. Sylvain entered the waters and set off on the swim he had been training for for many months.

We hadn't gone out far when a Belgian film crew pulled up and started filming Sylvain. Dan, speaking excellent French, found out that they were doing a documentary on swimming the English Channel. They were a bit invasive, at one stage the cameraman entering the water, swimming up to within about 3 Metres of Sylvain and filming him in the water. However, after about an hour they sped off into the distance.

Above: In the South West shipping lane, dodging the oil tankers.

It had started fairly calmly, but the wind and therefore the waves really picked up and I actually felt quite cold on deck. Niall did a sterling job mixing the Maxim feeds, while Dan and I took it in turns feeding him. It was good teamwork, and an essential part of a channel swim. He fed every hour for the first 3 hours, and every 1/2 hour after that. It worked perfectly.

Above: Niall and I on deck watching Sylvain on his swim. It is important that at least one person watches the swimmer at all times.

Above: The P&O and Sea France ferries can be constantly seen on any channel swim.

Not once did Sylvain moan or even speak. His feeds were awesomely quick, mainly about 10 seconds, the longest probably 20 seconds. He just put one arm in front of the other, head down, and headed for France. As night fell, the wind dropped a bit and it felt a little warmer. We were swimming on a 7 Metre Spring tide, and what happened next, will linger in my mind for any future swims I may do.

Having swept past Cap Gris-Nez down towards Boulogne, we tried to get Sylvain to pick up his pace. He was literally 1KM from the French coast. For 30 minutes he upped his pace, but the tide was just too strong. All of a sudden, we were swept around the cap at a speed of 6 Knots! It was incredible. The sea felt as though a volcano had erupted underneath. The boat was all over the place, and Sylvain was about 30 Metres away from the boat heading off to England. If I had not have seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it! Then, all of a sudden, dead calm. We were round the cap, and headed into the bay towards France.

Above: Nearly there, about 600 Metres to go until Sylvain reaches France.

Above: Dan prepares to swim in to shore with Sylvain, a large can of Guinness tucked into his trunks for them to celebrate with in France!

Above: Sylvain Estadieu - Channel Swimmer - England to France - 14 Hours 44 Minutes. Well done. Fantastic job!

We had a 3 hour trip back to blighty, then I headed back home to Bury, totally shattered, but really pleased to have been part of another English Channel swim.

A full set of photos can be found on my Facebook page by clicking on the link below:-

Thursday 17 September 2009

Abbeycroft Leisure - St Edmundsbury Sports Awards 2009

I am delighted and very honoured to have been nominated for the "Sports Personality of the Year" award at the 3rd annual Abbeycroft Leisure St Edmundsbury Sports Awards 2009. The event will be held at the Bury St Edmunds Corn Exchange on Sunday September 27th, 2009.

It was won last year by fellow open water swimmer Steffanie Biller of West Suffolk Swimming Club and Germany. I was runner up at the inaugural event held in 2007 following my first swim of The English Channel. The entry listed all my swim achievements from my 2007 channel swim up to the UK Cold Water Swimming Championships in January 2009.

I will update the blog after the award ceremony to let you know how I did, however, I am just very proud to have been nominated in the first place.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Boats, Waves and Automobiles - Bank Holiday fun in "The Far East" (Thorpeness & Aldeburgh, Suffolk)

Above (left to right): Me, Nick Clements (my brother-in-law) and Viv Clements (mother-in-law) on the Thorpeness boating lake, Monday August 31, 2009.

Having had a bit of a swimming sabbatical while waiting for our son Luca to arrive, on the last summer Bank Holiday of 2009 we decided to head for what I like to call "The Far East" for a swim in the sea, my first since my mammoth session in Dover Harbour back in March. So after negotiating all of the very frustrating Bank Holiday traffic, through which Beccy and Luca slept soundly, we finally arrived in Thorpeness, one of the most easterly towns in Great Britain (Lowestoft is the most easterly) to meet up with my mother-in-law, Viv, brother-in-law, Nick and his girlfriend Danni for some good old Suffolk fish and chips before heading for the famous Thorpeness boating lake.

Above (left to right): Danni, Beccy and Luca enjoying the glorious sunshine while being rowed around the lake by Nick.

Above: Me with Luca, Nick (doing a sterling job rowing) and Viv.

Having spent about an hour on the lake (the exact time was in dispute due differences in everyone's watches) we headed for the short trip (about 3 miles) to Aldeburgh, where I was going to swim. It is ideal there because there are no groynes, just a very straight beach of a couple of miles, so you can swim along the beach in deep water, and only be about 5-10 Metres from the beach at any one time. It is ideal for training in.

As I got in the sea and started to swim, it was simply fantastic. So refreshing after the heat of the day, and great to be back in the sea after such a prolonged break.

It was fairly rough in there, quite a few waves, but then again it was The North Sea. I really enjoyed myself, and it has fired me up in preparation for by next big swim which I am currently trying to organise. More details will follow as soon as I get the go ahead.

Luca was looked after during my swim by his mum and Nick. Apparently he did in fact open his eyes and watch me swim for a while before adopting his usual sleeping position!

After my swim, we headed back through the winding countryside roads to avoid the heavy Bank Holiday Monday traffic, stopping off for a glass of cider in Framlingham. It had been a beautiful day!