Published on June 23, 2017 Comment(s): 0
In 2012 I was a recreational swimmer, swimming occasionally, plodding up and down the pool for about 20 lengths (500m, which is my warm up now) maybe 30 on a good day. I lacked drive, and would often just stop and look around with no real purpose, but it was fun and I enjoyed it. I had also splashed about in the sea a few times for a bob, but never did any proper sea swimming as I always thought it was too cold. My inspiration came from the London 2012 Olympics, and in particular, the Paralympics, if these Super Humans could achieve such incredible things, then maybe I could too, and along the way raise some funds for good causes. So, in 2013, I did a 44 mile triathlon, the following year I swam a new 7 mile route diagonally across The Solent from the Isle of Wight to the English mainland, and then swam the same route, 14 miles two-way the following year. My love and passion for open water swimming had taken off with rather a big bang! Alongside this I raised £10,000 for charities close to my heart.
A few days after the 14 mile swim I started to think about the English Channel, and that dream is about to come to fruition in about 10 week’s time. I’ve been training for it for 2 years, although I suppose you could say I’ve been training for it for all my life, I just didn’t know it. I’ve overcome lots of challenges, as we all have, and feel stronger for it; this in part has helped me immensely in the mental preparation to swim 21 miles to France. My head feels stronger than it has ever been, ready to face whatever the wild sea throws at me, and physically I’m now back in shape and fighting fit after having several months last year where my training was affected heavily by a bad case of pneumonia, a result of carrying on training when I wasn’t well and trying to pretend I was ok, when in fact I had a bad chest infection but wanted to try and get a PB for a 5k, I did, (1:35!) knocking ten minutes off a previous one, but it wasn’t worth it, a lesson learnt the hard way, but not one I will ever forget.
I haven’t got to where I am on my own though, my husband Robert, who used to row for Scotland, writes all my training plans and has helped to get my endurance fitness to where it is now. We use the Periodisation Training method, which has worked well for worked for me for the past three events, bringing you to your peak just in time for your event. My swim buddies have also helped me, joining me on my endless training swims and being so supportive over the years, and the social media community have been incredible, the positivity I get from messages about my swims are overwhelming.
For this final big swim and fundraiser, I decided to do something a little different to the normal way of just asking people to sponsor me because I’m doing a big challenge. So, I wrote to lots of companies, including Charlie McLeod, asking if they would donate a prize for an idea I had. This little acorn of an idea has become an oak tree, and people have been so very generous. I now have 102 prizes! And Charlie McLeod have very kindly donated not only a Sports Cloak, but a Driathlon Robe as well and kindly given me one too, I must say it is a fab little bit of equipment, it packs really small and is very lightweight, keeps the wind out and modesty in when getting changed and dries you off quickly, and can also be used as a cover up in the heatwave when you forget your sunscreen…as I did yesterday on the beach. All the 102 prizes can be seen on my Just Giving page here https://www.justgiving.com/teams/DeborahsEnglishChannelSwim .
I have many prizes specifically for sporty people including a Suunto sports watch, a PoolMate 2, signed gear from the Olympian Keri-Anne Payne, and the first Brit to swim the Oceans 7 - Adam Walker, goggles and swimsuits from Zoggs, Deakin & Blue and Kinamara, as well as spa days, fashion vouchers, a flying lesson, a bungee jump and much, much more. For every £5 donated people get a raffle ticket and will go in the draw which will take place after I’ve swam to France. So the more you donate to the charities the more chances you have of winning one of these amazing prizes. I’m swimming the English Channel for five charities that are close to my heart, Macmillan Cancer care, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Canine Partners, The Oakley Waterman Caravan Foundation who help children with life-threatening illnesses have a respite holiday, and The Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital in memory to my mum. I’m trying to raise £5k, £1k for each of the charities, and I’m currently exceeding all my expectations and have raised 81% of my goal. If you would like to help please visit the Just Giving link above. And if you would like to follow my training and the boat’s tracker on the day, my swim page is -https://www.facebook.com/QuantumofSolent2ReturnoftheTide/
I’m also on Instagram @deborahschannelswim and Twitter @DHerridge68
Training wise, all is on track. I did my 6 hour English Channel qualifying swim last October, this has to be in water less than 16C, and I’m slowly building back my endurance after a winter of pool training fairly short speedy sets. I got back up to a 5 hour sea swim and then a 3 hour last weekend, and will be working up to 7/6 ers.
So just under 8 weeks and my Channel tide will open, this means I’ll be waiting for the call, I could go anytime between the 28 August and the 4 September, and I’ll be ready and waiting, and possibly a little nervous as I always am before a big swim, but as soon as I get in the cool sea my worries are literally washed away, and I get into my zone and start my rhythmical stroke. The sea is my happy place and the element in which I am most comfortable. I’m nearly ready. Wish me luck!