Ilfracombe to Swansea 19/20-9-22
Swim time: 21 Hours 47 Minutes
Observer: Madeliene Rumble
Swim Crew: Nicola Court, Kate Hartright
Pilot: Ceri Davies
Breast stroke swim! Ratified by the BCSA and believed to be the first Breaststroke swim on this route across the Bristol Channel.
I am an Open water swimmer and plan to embark on a tough but inspiring challenge for Charity next year. This includes swimming across the 4 routes of the Bristol Channel, equating to a distance of approximately 100 miles, depending on tides. To add to this challenge, I am planning to do this as a breaststroker and hope to be the first swimmer in history to achieve this! With the recognised positive effects open water swimming has on mental health, this has been the focus for choosing a charity to support whilst planning upcoming swim challenges. MIND will be at the forefront of money raised to honour and recognise the work they do for people with mental health issues. I have personally suffered with depression but I am now able to recognise and manage this through swimming and awareness of issues. I have also completed a recognised Mental Health First Aid Course in order to help both myself and others. On deciding to embark on this challenge, for both myself and to raise money for charity, I have trained hard in open water and at the gym. Increasing time in the water and strength training has been a massive help for the goal I hoped to achieve. I have trained at caversham lakes most days in the week and joined the durley swimmers in Bournemouth, and kings swimmers in Dover for additional sea training and coaching with experienced swimmers. I have trained in the Bristol Channel also in order to gain experience in the tides and channel for the crossing. It was so nice to have my friend Mark meet me at the start! Words of encouragement from my swim buddy before I set of on this crazy challenge I’d been aiming for this last year! I was initially nervous heading off into the dark waters of the Bristol Channel. Within a few minutes I could feel myself getting into my stroke, and the plankton floating past me in different colours created a light show! It was mesmerising! I actually felt good! I had no concept of time , stars, a blood moon in the distance and the boat to my side was all I could see to keep me pushing through. As the sun started to come up, it gave me a huge lift as I knew I was well on my way. The view now was literally just water ! The crew giving me my feeds was what I was aiming for. I would glance up and the would nod of smile to encourage me. This kept me going. I was getting some discomfort in my hips, but I wanted this so tried to ignore it and was determined. I was joined by numerous dolphins during the swim. A change of scenery and simply incredible! Swimming with them out there in such a vast space was beyond amazing and just what I needed as a boost. I could see the land and had this in my mind. My crew asked if I wanted a support swimmer in for a bit and I agreed. I needed another lift to keep me pushing to the coastline. I felt less isolated. I had the boat to my left, nic just off to my right and the land in front of me. Mentally this made a huge difference As Nic pulled back and got back onto the boat i had mixed feelings. Daunting being on my own again but The feeling I was almost there and she was rejoining the crew to prepare for the finish. That was my focus. I kept pulling, even though I hurt everywhere now and was knackered! It seemed like an eternity again swimming stroke after stroke. How much longer?! I asked the crew on several occasions but they just encouraged me and pointed me towards the land! Come on! The currents felt strong, and the wind seemed to have picked up. The water was a bit bumpy now but the land definitely looked closer. I kept thinking how much I wanted this and thought of how close I was on my penarth to Weston super mare swim when I was pulled out due to the tides- I didn’t want that feeling again! I caught glimpse of something to my right again…Nic was back in the water! She shouted I was close and I was going to do this! Just what I needed. All of my crew were talking/shouting to me. I felt like I wasn’t moving. I was but VERY slowly. I was doing head up breaststroke now as I was so tired and wanted to see the land. The sun was setting. It was so hard to focus. I was shouted at to stand up! My feet finally touched the floor! I was so unsteady and couldn’t really feel my legs but I pushed through to stand and raise my arm to tell them I’d done it! I couldn’t believe it! I literally had no energy. Thank goodness Nic got back in the water for the finish. I don’t think I’d have managed to get back to the boat without her pulling me now. I felt rough, couldn’t focus and needed the crew more than ever. To help me dress and look after me. They knew I wasn’t right and called for an ambulance to meet us in the harbour. I couldn’t stand. I was lifted out of the boat and onto a stretcher where I was taken to hospital by ambulance. Not quite the finish I had visioned. But even on that ambulance stretcher, and in hospital, I was and always will be now…a channel swimmer! 21 hours 47 mins of breaststroke!!