Porthcawl to Foreland Point 24-25/7/23
Tandem Solo with John Curley
Swim time: 10hrs 55minutes 36seconds
Start: Sandy Bay Porthcawl (Coney Beach), Wales
Finish: West of Foreland point, Devon.
Observer: Clare O’Connor
Swim Crew: Catherine Downes / Kate Steels
Pilot: Luke Warren and Aston Grindogh
Ratified by the BCSA.
John Curley – Swimmer 1
Monday 24th July the swim time was set 21.00. We would be swimming through the night. This was not my first through the night swim so I knew what to expect. In fact, I hadn't trained for a night swim but knowing there were no sharks in the water for this swim was a bonus! This time there was nothing in the water that could eat me so that put my mind at ease.
The swim originally was booked as a solo swim and part of the Original Triple Crown. It was my first part and to be used as a training step for what was ahead in the other two swims.
A couple of months before the swim my coach and adviser, Ger Kennedy, asked me if I was interested in doing a tandem crossing with Paul Georgescu. I was nervous about the swim and I agreed. Paul is a top open water swimmer from Romania and, if anything, his presence would add confidence to the swim.
Throughout out the night the swim went well. Needless to say, it was tough for both swimmers as we both swim at different pace. This would be hard even at the best of times. For our swim, there was a large bumpy swell it was pitch dark for a large part of the night.
The crew and the pilots did an amazing job.
Paul Georgescu – Swimmer 2
Everything started at ILDSA awards 2022 when I had just found out that one of my main swims of 2023, Cook Straite, was postponed for 2024. After a consultation with Ger Kennedy, we decided to put Bristol on 2023 list. I accepted immediately, especially when he told me I will swim in tandem with John Curley.
It was a tough swim with rough conditions in the middle of the channel but I am very happy that we did it.
After the crossing I found out that we are the first ever successful tandem in the history of Bristol Channel and also the first successful original distance swim of a Romanian swimmer.
I would like to thank all the people who make this swim possible, especially to Kate Steels who came a long way to support me in this difficult crossing.
Now I have another reason to join ILDSA annual awards 2023 and of course to meet the amazing Irish open water swimming community for receiving my Original Triple Crown.
24 July 2023 – Clare’s notes during the swim
18.00 – JC took 2 antihistamines before the swim started
21.25 – second stopwatch stopped. Restarted it exactly 40 minutes after the original start time.
21.25 – Paul asked for his next feed to be a warm one.
22.15 – Feed on target. JC following his feeding plan. PG warm feed approx. 150ml
22.47 – Stopwatch stopped again! Started backup watch on exactly 2 hours after start.
23.47 – Porthcawl fading into the distance. We have placed a red light at the front of the boat so the swimmers can see it and align.
01.45 – Westerly, wind has swung around and bringing with it a lumpy rolling sea. Both swimmers doing well and in good form.
02.00 – Paul seasick and only kept down a rice pattie at last feed. Less than 100ml of fluid taken.
02.15 – Pilot issued Paul with a warning for swimming too far away from the boat in the dark. Paul seasick and zigzagging as he swims. John took 2 neurofen plus his normal feed (per plan).
02.45 – Paul is still zigzagging but much closer to the boat so we can see him. Lumpy sea. Paul looking happier and swimming more consistently.
03.45 – Paul too soluble pain relief plus 100 ml of carbohydrate drink.
05.45 – Much easier for the swimmers in the early dawn. Steady pace by both. Feeds back on track
07.00 – John took another gel. Less than 1.8km to go. Push hard. Kate Steels joined the swimmers in
the water (support swimmer, always behind both John & Paul).
7.15 – the landing looks OK from my vantage point on the boat, large rocks. The swimmers appear to
find the rocks slippery and difficult to stand up on.
7.18 – official finish. John & Paul standing up Job done. Happy faces.
How did the swimmer approach the swim? What were the conditions like and did they affect the swim? Did the swimmer complete the swim in accordance with the rules and spirit of marathon swimming?
I am much more familiar with John’s swim preparations than Paul’s. John had his feeding plan prepared before he arrived in Porthcawl and prepared his box with feeds, treats and grease. It was Catherine’s first time to crew for John on a long swim and that was a bit daunting for us all. To be honest, I was also anxious about a night swim and the long time on the support boat.
In relation to Paul’s preparations, he was very fortunate to have Kate Steels as his crew and she is very experienced and helped out with feed preparations and planning. She was vital to the successful swim for both John and Paul. Honestly, if Paul had not had Kate as crew, or someone of a similar ability, the swim would have been abandoned and both swimmers would not have succeeded in the swim across the Bristol Channel.
Both John and Paul completed the swim in accordance with the rules and spirit of marathon swimming.