I don’t know when I first thought about swimming the Channel. I recall sitting on a bus with my friend Simon in January 2011 on our way to the Sydney test of the Ashes (being Welsh-Australian I was, of course, rooting for the green n gold) and discussing facts and figures about the channel with the help of wikipedia. At that time I do remember clearly saying that there was no way I ever would or could swim the channel: why would one want to spend over 12 hours in cold grey water swimming a distance most people could not walk, let alone swim? But as one enters the world of marathon swimming one meets progressively more people who have succeeded; normal people, with families, 9 to 5′s, the same concerns and burdens as the rest of us… but with a special dream that can only be achieved with dedicated focus.
So… how did I end up here? Like so many things a series of small steps rather than a giant leap. I think it started with the decision to go to Lake Argyle for a 10km race in May 2012. Having swum a Bold and Beautiful 10km swim in December 2011 I found myself wanting another more challenging swim,when Iain McGregor suggested a boys’ weekend in the arse end of nowhere (outback WA) to enter the Lake Argyle Swim. So, three months and some distance training later I was flying to Darwin to meet with Iain, Ben Hutt, James Goins, Gaetan Guilhon, Stephen Coulter and Brendan Maher. Iain, James and Ben were all swimming 20km but I was biting off what I thought to be a pretty hefty mouthful with 10km.
I did it in 3h21m… it probably wasn’t that pretty but I got it done and felt pretty good… A breathtaking swim across a 1000 square km lake, 25,000 freshwater crocodiles (but none seen during the swim!), water about 26 degrees; amazing!
The joy of achievement was somewhat diminished by my return journey, a crazy rush across Northern Territory in order to get to Victoria River by dark. Within 20 minutes of getting a speeding fine from some bored (so very bored) cops in Timber Creek I had hit and killed a kangaroo, causing a surprising (and disappointing) amount of damage to my brand new hire car. Wiping out the aircon then having to drive another 500km in temperatures up to 38 degrees really took the sheen off my great swim… but I’d got the bug! Pretty soon after that I decided I wanted to swim Rottnest Channel (19.4km)… but that’s another story for another day, and is one of lows and highs!