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Swimming solo; my English Channel attempt

Swimming solo; my English Channel attempt

As you read this I may well be in the middle of the English Channel for my solo swim attempt as my tide to swim is between the 13th -20th of August. I’m fourth in line and as I turn 19 this week there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be completing this challenge on my birthday. I guess there are worse ways to celebrate and certainly won’t be a birthday I forget in a hurry!

The Channel is a 22 mile stretch of rough and very cold water. I’m hoping the swim will take me around 12 hours, however depending on the conditions this could take me anything up to 30 hours. Part of this challenge is to withstand the cold water so I will be completing the swim without a wetsuit and only allowed to wear a swimming costume, swimming cap and goggles.

During the swim I will be accompanied by my pilot Andy King and his boat The Louise Jane, who also made my English Channel, relay possible last year. As soon as I step foot off the boat I will not be able to touch it until I reach the French beach for my swim to count. This means I will be fed by my lovely crew who will throw a plastic bottle at me containing my food and drink, I am still yet to find something that goes nicely with sea water.

I am completing my swim on behalf of Meningitis Now which raises money and awareness for the illness. It’s a charity I’m passionate about raising money for because age two, I developed Haemophilis influenza B meningitis. The illness caused me to lose the ability to sit up, stand and walk as well as partial hearing loss in my right ear. I was lucky and slowly regained full mobility though was left with severe hearing loss in my ear. I consider myself blessed though as I don’t feel there are any limitations in my daily life, however many other meningitis sufferers are not as fortunate as me.

When I first had the idea to swim the Channel, I just thought about the physical challenges and it never occurred to me that it would cost quite so much money. It’s not only the expense of the support boat but the equipment and training leading up to the swim that has been so demanding on my bank account. To raise the funds I’ve been working at Bramcote Leisure centre as a swimming teacher/lifeguard and saving for just over 2 years throughout the age of 16-18. This cost is close to £6000 and so it’s been a massive challenge to fit in college and work as well as intense training and other commitments.

For my 18th birthday present I went on a long distance and Channel swimming training camp with Swim Trek in August 2016. Having never completed an open water swim before, as well as never having swum for longer than 2 hours this was a very very challenging week. The camp involved an itinerary of 16 hours swimming in 3 days in water below 16 degrees. I came home having completed my first ever 6 hour continuous swim in the sea and this meant I was now a qualified solo English Channel swimmer. Though the swims at the camp made me realise that this was going to be much harder than I’d ever imagined, I’d never experienced swimming like this; I was absolutely frozen stupid and constantly stung by jellyfish .

I went on two further training camps with Kings Swimmers, with a similar itinerary, and the improvements I made through this extra training was immense. At the second camp in April I was able to complete 66km (41 miles) in 4 days and this totalled to 22 hours of swimming! It was an incredible experience, despite questionable tan/burn marks, a fair share of jelly fish stings and a lot of aches and pains!

I thoroughly enjoyed both camps and met some amazing swimmers with very similar goals to me and that makes training much easier than on your own, when loneliness and tedium can creep in. However I feel both mentally and physically prepared for my swim and I am very excited and nervous to put all of my training into action.

If you’d like to support me, and a wonderful charity any donation will be extremely appreciated;  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ap-taylor18

I’ll keep you posted on how it all went!

Amy Taylor