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Critical Splash - Swimming for Survivors

Critical Splash - Swimming for Survivors Image
Raised toward our $21,000 Goal
152 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on August 13, at 12:00 AM AEST
Project Owners

It's not too late to make a difference

August 08, 2017

Hi Critical-Splashers

Memories come back to you in strange ways. The last week has once again been full of bad weather in Dover, especially for Channel swim attempts. We’ve been watching the tracker to see if one of our friends, Steve Payne, would get the opportunity to swim and when we accessed the CSPF website and Facebook page we found the below photos.

These were taken at the end of my swim. The first photo shows me running out of the water in front of the crowd who had gathered. Although my legs were not very coordinated, all I can remember was that I needed to clear the water without any assistance and so I was terrified that somebody was going to congratulate me and get me disqualified. The second photo is of me and Kathleen after I had collapsed on the floor, and she had swum in behind me to congratulate me.

The amazing story is that these pictures were taken by a man called Arnaud Chassery, who swam the Channel himself back in 2008. Arnaud has also gone well beyond simply doing the English Channel swim and has accompanied a friend in swimming between 5 different sets of continents, including the Bering Strait from Russia to America. What makes this truly amazing is that his friend is a quadruple amputee, who with the assistance of special prosthetics has achieved this mind-blowing feat. Please see the story below.

Hearing this story of unbelievable human spirit summarises what Critical Splash was focusing on; giving people who had been through a huge amount of suffering the chance to reconnect with the world and make sense of their experiences through access to post-ICU discharge follow up clinics.

I would like to give final thank you to all of our donors, and ask if you can give one final heads-up to friends and colleagues about Critical Splash - Swimming for Survivors. It’s not too late to give.

We have appreciated all the amazing support you have shown us.

Thank you


Thank you for supporting me on this journey

August 04, 2017

Hi Critical-Splashers,

We are now enjoying a real holiday for the first time in two weeks. It’s nice to not have to worry about my training and preparation for the swim.

The scars of the Channel are still very evident. I have significant sunburn over my body because the sunscreen washed off in the first few hours of the swim. Although the sun was never enough to make me feel warm, the UV was obviously there all day. I also have severe chaffing on my neck and shoulders from repetitive movement in sticky salty water, and I still can't lift my arms above my shoulders. However, I have finally stopped having vertigo and the feeling that I am still bobbing up and down in the sea (or, more correctly, getting smashed around by the French inshore waters).

It’s been 48 hours since I finished the swim and there a few aspects that have become apparent to me about what it means to take on the Channel. 

1. You don't know when you are going to begin swimming, which makes it very difficult to time preparation and training. When I received the call that I was setting off on the Monday evening, I had not considered the prospect of spending the majority of the swim in the dark, let alone finishing in the dark. But this was the reality of the potential window. Having spent the whole day adjusting my mind to dealing with this, I then found out a change of weather meant I’d have an early morning set-off instead and would have to readjust all over again.

2. Similarly, you don't know when you are going to finish or how far you will actually swim in terms of distance, you only know when you actually finish. This makes everybody's channel swim unique, as they all have different tides, winds, sunlight etc.

3. Once you’ve started the swim you can’t stop or you’ll end up going backwards. You have to either continue or get out. It is brutal and unforgiving.

4. I had always thought the day would be enjoyable, and the finish very special. However the majority of the swim was not pleasant, aside from a few small moments where I really enjoyed it (they were few and far between), and the finish was far more overwhelming emotionally and physically than I could have predicted. To sum it up, it was more than worth it, but it was not fun in the slightest.

So, here we are now as a family, enjoying looking back on what has been a remarkable journey for all of us. We are currently in Milan enjoying the sights, and the gelato.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has supported and taken part in Critical Splash - Swimming for Survivors. I’d especially like to thank the generous donors who have helped to raise over $10,000 for the post ICU discharge follow-up clinic.

I would also like to give an enormous thank-you to my wife Kathleen, for without her support and encouragement this would never have been possible. And finally, to my three wonderful children, Ryan, Josie, and Teddy. As I wrote on the wall of the White Horse, this one is for you.

Thanks everybody.



We did it!

August 03, 2017

Yesterday was a momentous day for the Critical Splash team - we successfully swam the English Channel!

Setting off at 3:37am from Samphire Hoe, Dover, we had a fairly lumpy swim through the cold English inshore waters, with conditions improving slightly in the English and French shipping lanes. The French inshore waters, on the other hand, proved very difficult to navigate and added several hours to the expected swim with the wind and tides preventing us from turning towards the shore.

However, at 3:41pm we finally landed at Wissant Beach near Cap Gris Nez.

The team put in a phenomenal effort; every member played a vital part and should be so proud of the work they have put in over the last few months.

After the successful swim, as is the tradition, I wrote my name on the wall of the 'White Horse Inn' along with the rest of the successful Channel swimmers. I will give an update in a few days to reflect on what was an amazing day.

I’ve posted several photos which are described below:

1. Wissant Beach, where we landed

2. My swim track

3. Writing my name on the wall of the White Horse

Today's the big day

August 01, 2017

Hi Critical Splash supporters,

Today is the big day.

After being delayed by 10 hours due to rough seas and heavy winds, we’ve been given the all clear to set off from Samphire Hoe at 3:30am UK time (12:30pm Sydney time).

I have attached a few photos of our final preparation day. We found a pub which we thought was a good omen, or perhaps I just have a common surname, and on the second photo you if you look through the harbour heads you can see the outline of France.

Our next update should hopefully include a picture of me writing my name on the wall of the White Horse Inn.

Thanks once again for your support and being part of Critical Splash, and please remember to share my project on social media to spread the word far and wide!




Another update from Dover.

July 28, 2017

We have arrived in Dover to be greeted by the water in the harbour looking like a washing machine. Even the kids did not want to get in.

As per 8 years ago, when we never got a chance to swim because of the weather, the only predictable aspect of the English Summer is the unpredictable weather. Like numerous other swimmers we are now spending our time looking at weather apps every hour to see if a window is opening to get across, and waiting for the phone call from our pilot that we are good to go. At the moment, it's looking like Tuesday will be the big day, however we'll keep you posted of any changes.

Thank you once again for supporting the critical splash.

Cold-water training at Sandsend Beach

July 24, 2017

Hello again to all those following Critical Splash. Since our last check-in we have headed north to begin cold-water training, however we did not realise just how chilly it was going to be!

The photo below is of Sandsend Beach, 1km north of Whitby, where it was a wonderful mild summer's day. The water, however, was a crisp 12 degrees centigrade. Not 'refreshing', not 'invigorating', just very cold!!! :)

It did not stop Ryan, Josie and Teddy from having a ball jumping in rock pools and finding treasures.

Thanks again for your ongoing support of Critical Splash - Swimming for Survivors, and please remember to share my project on social media to spread the word far and wide!

We've arrived in Dover!

July 18, 2017

We would like to thank you for supporting our crowdfunding project. Today we returned to Dover for the first time in 8 years, and we couldn't even see France as it was cloudy. It looked quite a daunting distance, however the water temperature was reasonable although not exactly tropical. We are now 12 days away from the tidal window which starts on 28 July, and we are heading north for some real cold-water training. Once again thanks for your support, and please help us to keep the momentum going by sharing my project on your social media channels!

Below you can see two pictures of me looking over Dover Harbour again. Nothing much has changed, it's still cold.

Choose a giving level


One lap at a time

20 laps of an Olympic pool is 1km, which is the equivalent of swimming across the bay at Bondi Beach


Commitment to the cause

50 laps of an Olympic pool is 2.5km, which is the equivalent of swimming from the University of Sydney to the Sydney Town Hall


Just keep swimming

100 laps of an Olympic pool is 5km, which is the equivalent of swimming from the SCG to Darling Harbour


Nothing gonna break my stroke

200 laps of an Olympic pool is 10km, which is the equivalent of swimming from Sydney Airport to Hyde Park


Almost at the finish line

500 laps of an Olympic pool is 25km, which is the equivalent of swimming from Sydney Olympic stadium to the Sydney Harbour Bridge


Going the distance

1000 laps of an Olympic pool is 50km, which is the equivalent of swimming from Nepean Hospital Penrith to the Sydney Opera House. This is approximately the total distance Stuart will swim if he completes the channel, due to the tidal movement (see boat-tracker link)

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