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Lee Johnson

Porthcawl to Foreland Point 24-25/7-2023

Swim time:  12hours 8 minutes 11 seconds

Start: Sandy Bay Porthcawl (Coney Beach).

Finish: Foreland Point, Devon

Observer:      Victoria Lea & Marc Newman

Swim Crew:   Dan Whitaker, Josh Laycock

Pilot: Ceri Davies

Boat: Shee Ann      

Ratified by the BCSA

Swimmers report:

What inspired me to do the swim?

This swim was a 2 way attempt and was originally booked as a swim where I could test myself for an EC 2 way attempt next year. I planned to train hard up to this swim then analysis where I needed to improve moving forward in order to give me the best chance on the EC 2 way.

I have 2 young daughters and want them know they can do anything if they plan and apply themselves properly, regardless of how scary something may seem when you first dream it up.


How I planned for the swim.

I average 10-15h of swimming a week generally anyway but really ramped up the back to back swims. In the winter I worked more on technique and pace. Leading up to the swim mid-week swims were again shorter, pace and technique swims with long back to back swims on a weekend. I made sure I tried to get the right balance between hard training and knowing when to rest.

 I try not to put myself under pressure and prefer to approach the challenge as ‘its just another swim’

I swam the North Channel just over 3 weeks before this swim, it was for the perfect training swim for what lay waiting in the Bristol Channel.


How did the swim go?

The swim was always going to be hard, the weather at the time was very unpredictable with none of the weather forecasting models able to agree on what was going to happen.

What actually happened was that the first leg of the swim started well and as forecast for the first few hours, as darkness feel the wind picked up and the waves and swell also increased, however this only lasted 3-4h and by the time the sun rose we were well and truly through the worst of it with North Devon in sight. The first leg was completed in a time of just over 12h after the team decided the best point to land as we needed to feed etc before heading back.

The next 4h or so were pleasant enough with no issues, as the tide turned the wind also picked up and we were faced with a real battle on our hands, a force 5 wind was really making for difficult swimming, however I dug in and with the encouragement of the team we made steady progress back to Wales.

On the final few hours of the swim the wind was so bad that it was really difficult to swim at the side of the boat, I had to swim at 90 degrees to it as the wind and tide were pushing it along, this was seriously hard work. In the end we found ourselves on the wrong side of a sand bank meaning it would not be possible to land and the strengthening tide would push us away from land, the decision was made on safety grounds to stop the swim and despite my pleas with the crew I agreed to climb on the boat after swimming for over 23h and covering 55 miles.

I got on the boat, spoke to the team, cried a little and got some clothes on before crashing on the seating and instantly falling asleep to wake up 90 mins later back at Swansea habour.

Although not a successful 2 way, it’s my proudest swim to date, I learned a lot about myself that day and I will be back to give it another go.



Observers report:

Note there were two observers so there are two sets of reports and two sets of logs.


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