After competing in triathlons for 9 years, I decided it was time to try something different. In the back of my mind I had always had this idea that I would try to swim the English Channel some day. Now, after almost 2 years of distance swimming training, that day is almost here!

Plot of my course

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Getting close now

I started the day with a 1.5 hour/3 mile swim in the harbor. It was the same temperature it’s been all week as far as I can tell but I felt better in it. The sun was out on and off. Each time I get in I really think my tolerance is improving. It’s still terribly uncomfortable but I am now able to make myself think about something other than the cold. When I can do that, it really helps pass the time rather than dwell on how much I want to get out. The water was rougher today too. In fact, what woke me up this morning was high winds and rain beating on our building. It had died down considerably (I was picturing 5 foot waves) but the harbor still had some swells and a lot of chop or irregular peaks and valleys. I am learning to just relax and not fight it when I get in that kind of water. I try to expend the same amount of energy as I would when swimming in flat water. I think the big swim is going to come down to a balance of exerting myself just enough to stay “warm” but not so much that I exhaust myself completely. My wife Lauri came to watch me swim today and take some video of me. However, had she wanted to show me in a good light she would have recorded me stroking smoothly through the harbor apparently unaffected by wind, waves, and cold. But no. Instead she took video of me walking awkwardly down the stone beach (aka golf balls) cold, fat, stuffed into a Speedo and slathered with Vaseline. I assume the video will serve some evil purpose later.

We took the afternoon to drive about 20 minutes north to see the Canterbury Cathedral. By the way, I think I really have the roundabouts down now. Even the bigger multi-ringed ones. Anyway, the Cathedral was as spectacular as I had imagined it would be. The scope and scale of it, the incredibly detailed stone carvings everywhere you looked, the history was all magnificent. The picture above was taken about halfway into the church. There's much more beyond and back behind me not visible in the picture. Being Episcopalian it also holds a special meaning as this is where our denomination began and is still our world “headquarters” where church business is conducted. We opted for the audio tour which proved a great way to keep the kids occupied and provide them with an educational experience at the same time.

After the tour, we found a nice little Italian restaurant in the Canterbury shopping district outside the Cathedral. As we finished up some excellent thin crust pizza I checked my BlackBerry (surprise, surprise) and saw an e-mail from my pilot Eddie. He said Friday may be swimable, Saturday was looking good. So I need to keep waiting and see what the weather does next. But we are coming down to the wire now and I am feeling good that I will get a shot. So that's great! Now we'll just have to see what that shot is going to look like. There are three swimmers contracted with Eddie for this week. It is my hope that all of us will get a good day and have our chance to go.


Anonymous said...

You have 3 supporters in NYC ! STEPHEN, JULIE, & FRED....!!!!

Hope you get good weather on your day!

Anonymous said...

We are wishing the best for you! The blog is so informative. Thanks for all the great details of what's going on. Tell Lauri and the kids hi for us. We'll be tracking your swim when the time comes. And I know it will! Best of luck!
Lorraine Smith

Anonymous said...

Good luck Allan, drop me an email. cant believe I have been searching for a training partner and you live maybe 5 miles away!!!

good luck on the big day

Mark Robson

Anonymous said...

We've been checking your blog everyday and the suspense is killing us! It sounds promising that you'll get your chance after all! Good luck and we're cheering you on. Tell everyone hello and assure the kids that there is absolutely no homework to make up next week. Lauri, I can't wait to see that video!

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! I hope you get your chance to swim today. Please tell Ben, Jacob, and Anna that I said hello and to enjoy their time in England. The history there is awesome! Tell Lauri and Bonnie hello and that I will see them soon. Good luck to you and continue to blog. I am enjoying your adventure!
Linda Ann

anita said...

We are praying for you to have a good weather day and the strength to complete the crossing. We are with you all the way!

Also, tell Lauri we are looking forward to the pictures of you at the beach.

Sam and Anita

Allan said...

Thanks all! It's coming down to the wire now. Either I will get my shot or I will have a long winter of training for spring swims here. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Good luck, Allan; hugs to you, Lauri, Ben & Jacob !!

Marion & Ricky