andy’s english channel swim: august 2007

March 30, 2006

2006 03 30 13h00

Filed under: Uncategorized — andy @ 6:13 pm
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We didn’t get very far this morning.

After a 03h30 phone call confirming that the swim was on, we met at the Harbour Island slipway in Gordon’s Bay, launched the boats at 05h15 and after a 30 minute ride in darkness, arrived at the starting point at Rooi Els.

After coating ourselves with layers of sunscreen & vaseline (for chafing), Ryan Stamrood & I were ferried from our boat to the beach by Pine, our paddler who would accompany us on a kayak and carry the shark shield, an electronic device which "discourages"  sharks from coming too close – see

We set off in relatively warm water of about 18% at a comfortable pace – it felt too slow for me, being accustomed to squad training sessions in the pool, but I was confident that Hugh – a very experienced open water swimmer – was setting a pace that he intended to maintain for the next 14 hours or 35 km.


Pic 1: leaving Rooi ELs at in darkness 06h30

Pic 2: swimming in formation next to the cage – a "sharkproof" metal cage attached to the yellow inflatable pontoons. Captain John at the helm. The nose of the red kayak carrying the sharkshield is visible at left. We stayed in close proximity to both of these – note Hugh closest to the cage. 

All went well until the first "feed" after half an hour – "sixty seconds only" as per the stern Mr Tucker – after which the conditions deteriorated progressively. The chop picked up and the jellyfish seemed to be going in the opposite direction to us at high speed – "with their air brakes on" one of the crew quipped. At the 2nd break after another half hour, Hugh & the navigators on the boat called the swim off. We had been swimming into a strong current, and had been making no headway – in factwe had been going backwards. We climbed back into the boats further from our destination than we had started!

Nothing left to do, but back to the harbour and a cup of coffee, before heading back to work for the rest of the day. 

March 29, 2006

2006 03 29 11h58

Filed under: Uncategorized — andy @ 4:14 pm
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Great Excitement – Hugh Tucker ( my friend & second for my Channel swim hopes to swim across False Bay from Rooi Els to Smitwinkel bay tomorrow (see Google Earth map below). I am one of the swimmers who is on standby to second him. This is significant because, in spite of about 20 attempts at the crossing, only three attempts have ever been successful. The locals regard this swim as more difficult than the English channel crossing – indeed even the most experienced local swimmers regard the swim as absurd (see Personally, I need to complete a 6 hour cold water swim to qualify for the English Channel swim – and this will be at least a 12 hour swim – I therefore won’t swim the whole distance. More importantly, it is reciprocation for the time & enthusiasm that Hugh has shown to my swimming; I hope that the company & the tempo help, but I have no doubt that I will be told otherwise while in the water, if either are not contributing!

Hugh Tucker's False Bay route 

The swim accross False Bay is an extreme expedition swim, due to its distance, cold water, strong currents, unpredictable weather and the presence of sharks, and Hugh has constructed a motorised cage for "shelter" if necessary. This swim is the culmination of years of long distance swimming for Hugh, which included a nearly-completed Channel swim 32 years ago, and a successful Channel swim 2 years ago. A possible swim was called off on the day 3 weeks ago due to local wind conditions, and the extended stand-by state wreaks havoc with everyone’s sleeping habits.

As usual, the  weather determines if  we get in the water, and 16h00 is the next weather check (see Final confirmation of the swim will be at 03h00 tomorrow morning, and we will meet at the Gordon’s Bay boat club at 05h00 to motor to the starting point.


March 28, 2006

Week 2006 03 26

Filed under: swimming training — andy @ 12:51 pm
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Week 2006 03 19

Filed under: swimming training — andy @ 12:50 pm
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A month of gala’s (1st in provincial masters champs in 200m individual medley & 3rd in the national master’s champs in 800m freestyle), a safari to my colleague Renault’s wedding in the Eastern Cape  and the  distractions prior to it, resulted in an interrupted training schedule for a month, as seen in the missing "teeth" in the total Manhattan.

However, the show is now back on the road. A good consistent 3 months training from April – June will break the back of the monster ahead. The tri-althletes in the training squad at the Point gym inform me that 16 weeks is the required training for the Iron Man events (3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42km run), assuming an appropriate base to train from. The Iron Man event takes between 8 hours and 15 hours to complete – similar to the Channel swim. I still have 20 weeks, so have ample time – provided the time is used wisely.

My target for April is to consistently swim 25 km each week. This will be the last month of indoor, warm water squad training in 25m pools, which I have been doing on Monday/ Tuesday, and Thursday/ Friday. Then the switchover to outdoor 50m pools, which will start the cold water conditioning for real. In addition, I am looking forward to some of the great open water swims around the Cape peninsula and Robben Island in particular.