Channel Swim 29th August 2013 Team Flipping Brilliant
The swim was brought forward a day from the original date due to weather conditions so we had no time to worry about it we were off leaving Folkestone harbour at 3.15 am on the Thursday.
We boarded the pilot boat Connemara with the 4 team members, my father Peter, Shaun’s Nan Shirley, the pilot Kevin and his son and the adjudicator.
It was pitch black as we headed out of Folkestone harbour but at least not too cold and not too windy. All feeling very nervous about the day ahead! Jason was the first one in and as usual no fuss just got his glow lights attached to his head and trunks and headed off towards Sapphire Hoe to start the relay. He described his first hour as surreal and I am sure it was. A fabulous start being such a strong swimmer and we were all encouraged as we pulled ahead of the two other nearby channel crossing boats and headed out towards France. We were well and truly on our way!!
Next in exactly one hour later was Shaun ready to take his turn and did another great swim. Sadly however for his Nan she was very sea sick due to the constant rolling motion of the small fishing boat. It would definitely be a day to remember but maybe for different reasons!!Fortunately my father also on board was in the navy in his youth and managed to cope with the very challenging conditions!
I was number 3 swimmer and was very lucky to have the sun rising as I swam, so had an awesome time however not easy swimming hard for the hour .Rob was next in to complete our first 4 hours and we were all in high spirits. This had been helped by bacon sandwiches, the jovial timing hooter, the amazing sunrise and the fact the sea was not too choppy.
So the day progressed with more swimming and an increasing desire to see France it was quite hazy. It was difficult to judge progress with tides and winds to take into account but with the navigation system we slowly headed towards the separation zone on the map. Spirits remained high despite Shaun feeling very seasick which meant he was unable to eat so gallantly did his swim on a gel and a few chocolate buttons.
France suddenly became quite visible after about 11 hours and this gave us all a sense that we might actually pull this mad challenge off. We were no means there as the strong tides were pulling us down the coast but with some really strong focused swimming we edged ever closer.
I was fortunate enough to be the swimmer who did the final leg to arrive on the lovely sandy beach at Sangette accompanied for the final 5 mins by Rob as my support swimmer. I was greeted by a lovely French lady on the beach who handed me a gorgeous heart shaped stone. Strict regulations mean you cannot stay for more than a few mins in France so I did a cartwheel hugged Rob and then swam back to the boat. Full throttle to get back to Folkestone with an amazing sunset to end a perfect day!
The sense of achievement was huge but it was the formation of the team and the journey to get to that point that had been so amazing and left a lasting impression .Flipping Brilliant was an awesome team lead by a superb team captain Jason and it makes me think anything is achievable with the right people backing you.