The English Channel: 13 and a half months to go… or thereabouts; who’s counting?

I am counting; I have Vlad’s training plan pinned to the wall in my office and I cross out the weeks as they come and go. Subtract 52 weeks and this will be me sat here, writing my blog with only 6 weeks to go until the point between 1st and 10th July 2014, when I will swim the 34km+ between England and France. I will spend at least 12 hours in 15 degree centigrade water, battling cold, fatigue, inner demons and possibly sea sickness while swimming across a very busy shipping channel, guided by my pilot Stuart Gleeson (Sea Leopard Charter), with my handlers Nics and Jennie.

Then I will be dropping nuts; right now I am just excited. I know that it is likely that I will swim over 40km; I know it is possible I may have to swim up to 60km. I sometimes wonder why I couldn’t have chosen a nicer swim, in warmer water, warmer, cleaner water… but this is the rite of passage for marathon swimmers!

So many things to think about, but at least I have ample time to do it; top of mind and the topic of so many swimming conversations is nutrition. I think I’ve got it more or less sorted and my formula has now been tested on an 8 hour cold water swim. Captain Matthew Webb the first successful channel swimmer, who used breaststroke to get across in August 1874, subsisted on bovril and beer, but then again if we stuck to tradition and did what was done back then we’d all be like the Amish. Times have changed, success rates in crossing the Channel have increased, due in part to increased focus on nutrition.

My next concern is weight gain; I know I need to gain some weight, but how much? My 84kg saw me through 8 hours in 15 degree water; in Des Renford’s autoibiography (Australian marathon swimmer who was once King of the Channel with 19 successful crossings) he says that the expected survival time of a healthy adult in 15 degree water is 6 hours, so I’m ahead of the curve already… there are just 2 problems… a) I think I might have lost a kilo or two since Melbourne and b) it is likely the Channel will be less than 15 degrees; it was 14.5 degrees when swim buddies did the first window last year and it is currently less than 9 degrees! So I do have to gain some weight… which can be pretty tough when you’re swimming 30km a week and that will only increase in the next 13 months! I want to do it right (thin layer of fat under my entire surface area) rather than wrong (middle age spread)!

I’ll have to start making lists soon and for now feel confident that I’m ahead of the game in my training, in the best physical shape I have EVER been in (I may not be ripped but I can swim heaps longer than many people who are) and have the funds, dedication and support to succeed!