|15 Oct 2020|
|ODs Around the World|
Iain Derrick (1985W) most impressively participated in the Channel Relay Swim last month. The project was to raise money for ASPIRE, a charity that helps people with spinal cord injuries. What ASPIRE does is outlined on their website.
Should you be so moved, donations for the cause can still be made HERE.
After many on-off-on-off moments it was eventually on, and Iain's short essay below describes, amusingly, this endurance adventure:
Standing “ready to swim” on the stern of the boat - 31 minutes to dawn:
Speedos - check
Swim Hat - check
Swim Goggles - check
The CS&PF official observer relays the message from the bridge… “one minute”.
How did I get here…? A thought, not unfamiliar to ODs who have attended ‘get-togethers’ hosted by a certain N. Bicket (F, 1973 ), as the ‘get-together‘ lurches towards a crescendo.
My mind wanders off… What a year it’s been. Pools shut, all training needed to be in other bodies of water. This brings its own challenges of safety, conditions and obeying government guidelines.
The doubts seep in… I haven’t done enough training… I’m not prepared/acclimatised for the cold of the channel… Is my shoulder feeling a bit tight?
This adventure has been an Off Again, On Again, roller coaster since we ‘Aspire Wallabies' teammates committed to the swim on 22 Dec 2019.
Initially we were all:
On Again, sharing training tips and working hard in our training sessions.
Off Again as lockdown in March came into effect.
On Again as lockdown restrictions were lifted in June.
Off Again as Social Distancing on a boat would be impossible.
On Again as the guidelines were eased - it’s now late July…
The nitty-gritty of departure dates began to loom. It seems that getting the ‘swim window’ sorted is a bit of science, common sense, scribbling on a napkin and the boat skipper not being too grumpy…
The Aspire Wallabies window opens on 05 Sept and shuts on 15 Sept - according the the napkin squiggles…
So the call on Aug 25th was a surprise …”yes I could make it”, “can you be here in 7 hours?”, again “yes”…. so could another team, conditions meant they got the slot…
The call on 05 Sept - “get here for 12.30am departure 07 Sept” was great news… the call on the evening of 06 Sept - “the wind has changed the the forecast is poor” was disappointing.
Off Again… weather forecast looks poor until Thursday…
On Again… Thursday morning starting to look spectacular
Off Again… weather forecast looks too good for relays - solos first
On Again… weather for Monday 14th Sept looks OK - “can you make 4am, Dover Marina?”
“30 seconds” the observer mutters through his moustache… as I put my foot in the water to feel the temperature, I wonder how portentous it is that the crew of our boat remind me of the movie “Jaws”.
“Ready“… ‘Richard Dreyfuss’ shouts from the wheelhouse.
I jump into the English Channel at the sound of the siren, swim the British side of my teammate to “take up the baton” and start my first hour of swimming. At 06h33 I watch the sunrise from the water, conditions are superb and I smile my way through my first swim of the day.
“Swimmer on board” is relayed to ‘Robert Shaw’ as I flop onto the deck like a geriatric walrus… now the ritual of getting warm begins - drying down, woollen hat, strip off swimmers, layers on and then hot drink and some food to stop the shivering.
So the day progresses with each teammate taking their turn to drive us on to France… As 18h03 and my third hour approaches, team leader Catherine leans over and asks for a “Big Push now”. This is the science part - as my hour finishes the slack tide will begin - our next swimmer needs to be as close to France as possible to finish… I nod and jump…
We land at 20h01, in the dark, scaring French fisherman with our atrocious accents and shouts of “Merci, mon ami” as they guide us to shore with their flashlights…
The trip across ‘La Manche’ back to Britain is happy but quiet, apart from third and fourth thought
I am thrilled that as a team, the Aspire Wallabies have raised about £12000 for the Aspire Charity - helping people suffering spinal trauma.
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