I am writing to you from Varne Ridge on the white cliffs of Dover, overlooking the English Channel with a clear “Sunny” view all the way to the French coast.
The memories flooded back arriving into Dover Priory yesterday. Twenty one years to the day when I achieved my Everest; swimming the English Channel solo crossing (27/8/1990) in 9hrs 27mins, becoming the first Western Australian to achieve this feat.
It is a formidable sight as I stand in awe of her.
The English Channel that is.
Notice how they call the English Channel a she. She can be very harsh and rough on you way out there.
The English Channel is totally unpredictable and is known to change her mind with no warning (like most women someone said)…
And she is known to teach you a lesson or two too.
All English Channel swimmers (including successors and those who have gotten oh soooo close) will tell you they learnt something on their journey. About themselves. Their mindset. Their mental toughness. Their resilience. Their human vulnerability.
Why the English Channel you may ask? Why climb Mt Everest?
Sir Edmund Hillary was once asked why Mt Everest and he replied “because I can.”
And he did!
In the past six weeks four West Australians have attempted to swim the English Channel and three succeeded (with three more West Aussies attempting in the window 5-10 September 2011). All in the name of charity: Breast Cancer Care Western Australia having raised in excess of 60,000AUD.
Geoff Wilson (15hrs 15mins ), Lisa Delaurentis (10hrs 34mins) and Ceinwen Williams (12hrs 55mins). All three normally finish within 15mins of each other in the 20km Rottnest Channel Swim. But as they found out for themselves, it is not about time, it is about the journey that Mother Nature dishes out to you on Your Day in the Channel!
Geoff Wilson said: “In a strange way I felt like I could have gone for ever. All up, what a great adventure. Two years in the making and totally exceeded my expectations 10 fold.”
Lisa Delaurentis shared “I knew the weather and sea gods were most definitely on my side. I started at sun rise and the sun was definitely my best friend out there! I even thought ouch I don’t have suncream on! I have one weird cap tan to prove it too!”
and Ceinwen Williams thoughts included “I think I thought of everyone while I was swimming, who had given me good luck wishes, who I had trained with, who I train, and all my family and friends. Just having positive thoughts to pass the time was a key to keeping me going.
Last week on 24th August was the 136th anniversary of the first person to successfully swim the English Channel across to France. Captain Matthew Webb swam the channel with a mix of breaststroke and side stroke in just under 22 hours and covered an astonishing 64km (straight line being 34km) in a course dictated by the strong tides and currents – not too dissimilar to those encountered by Geoff Wilson.
On a plaque erected in honour of Matthew Webb it states simply… NOTHING GREAT IS EASY
…and this has become the motto of all those that have followed him.
And the harsh reality of the English Channel and how cruel she is…
Is the heart wrenching story of West Australian Wayne Morris‘s two 8hr attempts in 6 days.
Attempt #1: Unfortunately due to gale force 8 winds at 40knots the boat had to abandon Wayne’s swim as it is too dangerous to carry on after 8hrs. Attempt #2: Unfortunately he experienced major problems with his shoulders and after eight hours he had to abandon the attempt.
And regardless Wayne was the true Champion as he said “what an amazing experience and adventure even though “she” (the Channel) refused to let me cross her. All the messages were such a great source of encouragement.”
What is your Everest, English Channel, Rottnest or Manhattan Island?
What goal are you focused on achieving for your own personal satisfaction and achievement?
Please share in the comments below. And together we can rise above and achieve what our hearts so desire and we so richly deserve!
Cheers Head Coach Shelley
PS: Watch this space!!! Wayne Morris will be back… I know that for certain. How well you win is determined by how you lose.