English Channel swimming in a relay
Blog from Harkara:
As an international team we swam the English Channel from Dover to Calias in 13 hours and 41 minutes at the 21st of September 2010.
Members of the team are (from left to right):
Viharin (Czech Repulic, Prague)
Harkara (Germany, Augsburg)
Angikar (Serbia, Nis)
Jatansheel (Germany, Heidelberg)
Mahakulina (Slowenia, Ljubljana)
and our selfless helper Vlado (Czech Repulic, Prague)
When you click on the pictures, you can see them in a higher resolution.
Today Jatnasheel and me (Harkara) arrived in Dover. Viharin, Mahakulina and Vlado arrived two days earlier and gave us a warm welcome. We had a great meal and a lot of joy together.
Today we went the first time into the channel. The water is not so cold as expected, 17°C, but it takes some effort to go in. The water of my cold-water-training was much colder, 14°C, this feels like a burning on the skin. But from now on the words “cold” and “freezing” are not allowed anymore!!
The weather was great, blue sky and a middle-strong wind. In the morning I was swimming for 40 minutes and I had some difficulties to find my rhythm. In the afternoon I swam 45 minutes and everything went well.
The atmosphere is fantastic, there are about 15 channel-swimmers training at this spot.
The great thing about channel-swimming or „open water swim“ in general is, that you can eat like a pig, because you want to gain fat to have an good isolation. Biopren instead of Neopren.
By the rules of the "Channel Swimming Association" it is only allowed to wear a bathing trouser, a bathing cap, goggles and earplugs, otherwise the crossing is not valid. That means either the isolation against the co.. (upps) not so warm water comes from the fat of your body or you are swimming so fast, that this keeps you warm.
Today Angikar our 5th team-member arrived. He swam the channel as a solo-swimmer on August 8. 2010. It took him 19 hours and 24 minutes. He said without Supreme’s Grace it would not have been possible. The longest time he swam before the crossing was 8 hours, unbelievable… or in good disciple-english: mind-blowing. He has a lot of Biopren, that’s for sure.
This afternoon the weather became bad, strong storm and a little rain. No problem, you get wet anyway. But the wind is adding a chill-factor, even with swimming, because your arms and shoulders are outside the water and get co.. (mmh, how do I express this) not warmed up. The waves are an additional challenge. But I had a lot of fun, you feel the dynamic of the ocean and can play with the waves or the waves are playing with you.
Imagine you are lying on the beach in Bali. It is unbearably hot and you go into the water for refreshing yourself, but the water has almost the same temperature as the air and is therefore not refreshing at all. This is how it is in Dover now, water- and air-temperature 17°C. But fortunately there is a strong brize, so it is not so humid as in Bali :) Because of the strong wind the swimming felt like in a washing machine.
The boys say I am looking like an alien.
Today we met our boat-pilot. He was very nice, a true English gentleman. We are now at second position, before us a solo-swimmer swims. Maybe we will start at Saturday morning at 4:00 o’clock.
Our daily schedule is like this:
8:30 Channel-Swimming-Meditation on God’s grace and sing the channel-song
9:00 swimming 45 to 60 min, depending on the personal goal
from 10:30 warming up
cooking, eating, eating, eating
15:00 resting, sleeping
17:15 second swim sessions
cooking, eating, eating, eating
falling into bed
This time we had been at a sandy beach at Folkestone. Then sun was shining and the sky was blue. Sun, beach, wow... but swimming was tought today.
Then at 17:00 o’clock we drove to London for meditation. We where warmly welcomed and we had a huge Prasad. The swimmers where allowed to take first and it was quite clear who are the swimmers… everyone with a “little” overweight and strong shoulders. The extra huge Prasad seemed to be a coincidence exception specially arranged by the Supreme for us. The meditation was very nice and we had a lot of fun small-talking afterwards.
Today we went to the sandy beach again. It is simply more relaxing for the feet’s, instead of the stony beach in Dover harbor and also it gives us a kind of holiday feeling.
My first idea was to rest for today, because my muscles where quite tired yesterday, but the during meditation I stumbled over a poem about lethargy and was immediately "trapped". Mahakulina added: "This will be our last training-day. Tomorrow we have to rest before the swimming". Ok, ok let's go into the refreshing water.
I swam for one hour and everything went extremely good. I felt like a torpedo piercing though the water, I was swimming so fast.
All of the sudden Mahakulina is at my side. He is our fastest swimmer and can swim at least 4km/h. Wow, I can catch up with him, men I am so fast today! Oh no, he just wanted to know the time and then speeded up again. No chance to keep his speed even for a short time. I was happy anyway, because I transcended my own speed.
In the morning our boat-pilot had some bad news, the wind is too strong and we cannot start Saturday morning, we have to wait longer. My mind was prepared for a break and had to digest this new situation.
This time we did a relaxed swimming with some fun-actions, synchronous swimming, plashing and so on. We all can stand the water temperature much better than in the beginning. The body is a genius instrument, he can adopted to many situations.
In the afternoon the british television BBC came for a interview. They talked to us and some other channel swimmers. This was an interesting experience.
"Same procedure as everyday" This time we went swimming in the harbor of Dover. There trainig is more serious than in Folkestone, you can feel the cannel-swimming-vibration.
BBC filmed us, how we startet swimming synchronous. Luckily we practiced the day before :)
At the evening we had a very, very delicious dessert. Mahakulina baked apples with rasins and creme and lots of icecream, really a lot of icecream, mhhh.
In the morning there was a big gathering at our caravan park, two Australian solo swimmers, a man and a woman, one Irish solo swimmer and a team had conquered the channel! The Australian girl was totally excited, it took her 11h and 3 minutes. Almost every swimmer knows the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and speaks highly about the Zürich-lake swim. The girl was wearing a Zürich-lake t-shirt when she was interviewed by the BBC and told us: "I love Sri Chinmoy". She had also been in many of our events in Australia. Because of all the congratulations and talking, we went late to the training, it was already 12:00.
In the harbour we met Kevin Murphy. He is the King of the Channel with 34 successful crossings. At 16:00 Evelyn and David invited us to their party to celebrate all the successful crossings. Kevin Murphy and his wife also came and told a lot of stories and gave us some tips and advice.
Hurrah the weather forecast speaks about optimal weather for tomorrow. The boat-pilot scheduled us for tomorrow Tuesday 6:00 o'clock (7:00 middle european time). We went for a relax swim. It was very stormy, a good practice how to swim and breathe in high, strong waves.
We tried to rent a satellite-tracker, where you can see our crossing in realtime. But Mike Oram was not sure, if the tracker will be avaiable tomorrow, so just check the tracker webpage:
Click satellite-tracker 4 to see our crossing.
Hurray, we did it!
We had optimal conditions for our channel crossing. The sun was shining and the airtemperature was between 17°C and 20°C. The water was calm and 17°C "warm". There was almost no wind, we just had a strong current, because we started at the end of the neap tide.
You cannot get better conditions, so the crossing became a relaxed boat-journey with powerful swim-sessions. In a relay everyone swims for one hour and then has a 4 hour break. After the break you swim again for one hour. Therefore you could give really 100% in the swimming session.
We started at 6:58 o'clock and the day greeted us with a wonderful sunrise. The order of our relay was from the fastest to the slowest swimmer: Mahakulina, Viharin, Jatnasheel, Harkara, Angikar.
We felt great and no one got seasick, except our selfless helper Vlado. Even being a little seasick, he was still helping.
After 10 hours the boat-pilot said: if we do not speed up, then we will miss the goal Cap Gris-Nez and have to swim at least 5 hours more. It was Mahakulina's turn and everyone was pushing hard. We could see the french coast already, but the strong current takes you away, parallel to the coast.
For about 20 minutes three dolphins accompanied us. That was a nice experience!
Jatnasheel swam already in the dawn and when my turn came, it was pitch dark. The swimmer gets a light attached to his swim cap and trunks, so that the boat-pilot can still see the swimmer. It was a great honor for me to be the final swimmer.
Close to the goal the boat stops, because it cannot drive to the shore. Angikar joined me and we swam together to the cliffs of Cap Gris-Nez. My muscles where burning and it was hard to catch up with the rested Angikar. Shortly before the cliffs you can already see the rocks underwater. Only a few more meters, my arms felt like heavy stones, because I was sprinting before. Then I felt the rocks underneath my feet and climbed up. The rocks where very sharp, because of all the shells attached to the rocks, but luckily I got only a few small scratches.
We did it!! Everyone is happy.
It took us 13 hours and 41 minutes to cross the English Channel. We are the first successful men team of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team since 25 years - and the second one who tried. The first team failed in 1985 due to seasickness, strong winds, 13°C water and night combined!