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.