Often, when I tell people my plan to swim the English Channel I am met with expressions of surprise and incredulity.
“What?! You’re going to swim the channel?! Can you do that?! How do you know you can do it? ”
Well, I don’t know. I don’t know if I can swim the channel.
There is only so much preparation and training one can do without doing the swim itself. It’s quite a mammoth task. Based on my swimming history however and my ongoing training, there is a good chance I can do it.
The longest distance I have swum is approx 18 km in Folkestone. That was a 6 hour swim organised by Coldwater Culture in 2012. Under Channel Swimming Association rules, in order to qualify to swim the channel one has to be able to swim continuously for 6 hours in the sea without a wetsuit. The water temperature must be less than 15 degrees.
It’s said if you can do that then there is a good chance your swim will be a success. There is no guarantee of this however.
Even the strongest swimmers fail.
Tim Denyer, my coach, is confident I can do it. He says the only thing that is likely to stop me is bad weather.
I am reasonably fit, I swim 5-8 km a day and can handle swimming in cold water. I am asthmatic but rarely get attacks. They usually coincide with bouts of flu or a weakened immune system. Or they are triggered by pollution.
I also suffer from anxiety and depression which can be quite debilitating. Swimming tends to help though.
The main challenge for me is maintaining a positive mental attitude. Self-belief and will power are key.
Can I do it?
I have my doubts. But then I often have doubts about my ability to do things, even things I specialise in like filmmaking.
I know a couple of swimmers who failed the Channel due to stress at work and relationship problems.
To swim the English Channel one must be focussed on the swim and nothing else.
This is what I have to contend with. The battle in my mind.