We did it!

Photograph – Lisa Cummins

The team in Dover the day before the swim. Left to right: Lynne Lynch, Caitlin Desmond, Eoin O’Riordan, Owen O’Keefe, Maeve Ryan, Carol Cashell. (Photograph: Lisa Cummins)

As most of my readers will already know, the team of Carol Cashell, Caitlin Desmond, Maeve Ryan, Lynne Lynch, Eoin O’Riordan and myself (collectively known as Crosóige Mara) successfully completed a 2-way relay crossing of the English Channel last Saturday. Our primary aim was to complete both legs but we also had a secondary target of breaking the Irish record for a 2-way relay. The existing record was 21 hours 12 minutes and was held by the Dublin Fire Brigade team, which included Tom Healy, the current Irish record-holder for a solo swim with a time of 9 hours 51 minutes. This was always going to be a tough time to beat, especially given that that team completed their first leg in just 9 hours 55 minutes! We were confident, however, that with the right training and a good day we could break this record…

After a reasonable enough waiting time of 5 days in Dover, our pilot Mike Oram told us that Saturday, 13 July would be the best day to attempt the swim. We were to meet him at Dover Marina at midnight with the aim of starting some time between 1:00 am and 1:30 am. At the marina we met Mike and his crew as well as our two CS&PF-appinted observers, Mike Ball and Jim Boucher. Once all of the gear was onboard and Mike and Carol had their “discussion” on the team’s speed and targets, we set off for the start point at Abbot’s Cliff on the western end of Samphire Hoe, the same spot where I started my solo.

Photograph – Lisa Cummins

Onboard Mike Oram’s “Gallivant” on the way to the start. All of the team a little apprehensive but excited about getting to swim… (Photograph: Lisa Cummins)

As per the carefully considered plan, Carol was the first swimmer in the rotation and so she had to go ashore at the start point to officially start the swim. Mike shone the torch onto the beach, at which point a fox scampered back to the cliffs, Carol jumped in and swam to the illuminated patch of shoreline, where she cleared the water and signaled that she was ready. At 1:14 am, the siren sounded and Carol began swimming her hour. Carol swam about 3.9 km in her first hour, just above our target speed of 3.6-3.8 km/h.

I started to get ready after about 35 minutes, this was too early, and had a bottle of High5 Zero electrolyte drink and a High5 gel. The gel was a bad idea as it tasted rotten and upset my stomach during my swim. A slight goggle malfunction was irritating me also but none-the-less I got through the hour, my only night swim of the crossing. Caitlin swam the third hour, by the end of which it was starting to get a bit brighter, and Lynne swam the fourth hour. By the end of the fourth hour, about 4:14 am, it was officially day-time. Maeve and Eoin were delighted that they didn’t have to swim in the dark!

Photograph – Lisa Cummins

Caitlin swims past Lance Oram’s “Sea Satin” with Arch-to-Arc athlete, Rachel Hessom, during the ninth hour of the swim. (Photograph: Lisa Cummins)

During Maeve’s first hour (4:14 am to 5:14 am), she caught up with and passed Neil Streeter’s “Suva”, which was escorting Australian swimmer, Libby O’Farrell. The two boats passed very close! About 5 hours later, Caitlin was back in the water for her second hour and passed Lance Oram’s “Sea Satin”, the boat from which I did my solo, which was escorting Rachel Hessom. Rachel was swimming the Channel as part of her Arch-to-Arc challenge, in which athletes run from Marble Arch in London to Dover, swim across the Channel (usually in a wetsuit but Rachel was going without) and cycle from their landing spot to l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Both Libby and Rachel were successful in their swims that day.

Photograph – Lisa Cummins

Maeve has the honour of landing in France! (Photograph: Lisa Cummins)

Mike needed some power from us as we passed Cap-Gris-Nex heading south. We needed to into land as quickly as possible to avoid going further south, where the land would drop away from us and the swim would effectively become longer. Maeve got into the water at 10:14 am and powered into France, finding the only easy exit point for hundreds of metres either side! There was great excitement on the boat as the elapsed time since the start of the swim was 10 hours 18 minutes 59 seconds, just one second faster than my solo time. However, this time was well outside the Dublin Fire Brigade’s split of 9 hour 55 minutes. I was thinking at this stage that the record was not within our reach. As the swim went on, though, it became clear that we would negative split, i.e. we would swim the second leg faster than the first, so breaking the record was a real possibility…

Photograph – Lisa Cummins

I leap over Carol to start my final hour. (Photograph: Lisa Cummins)

The return leg was pretty uneventful for the most part. Conditions remained near-perfect and we were able to get some sleep as well as stuff our faces with ginger nut biscuits between our swims. During the eighteenth hour, the pilot asked for some serious power for the rest of the swim. If the likely last three swimmers (Carol, myself and Caitlin) swam fast enough we would both break the record and land at Shakespeare Beach, an ideal landing spot. Once Eoin had swum the eighteenth hour, Carol jumped in and sprinted off – she was hitting up to 80 strokes per minute during her hour! This was bringing us closer and closer to England and the White Cliffs of Dover were becoming more visible. We needed to keep up this pace so the pressure was on for me to give a “power hour” as Mike calls it.

I leaped over Carol at 19 hours and bolted off, kicking hard. The SiS caffeine gel that I took before the swim was working – I was able to hold the sprint – and the carbohydrate drink was helping to sustain my speed. I kept as close to the boat as possible, where I would gain some assistance from the boat’s drag – a trick I learned from watching Trent Grimsey during his world record-breaking swim last year. Still, I was really hurting from about half an hour in. I was managing to hold about 80 strokes per minute also but every one was beginning to hurt. I got comfort from seeing Lisa hold up an orange jacket every 10 minutes during the hour, though. Some noise from everyone else on the boat was greatly appreciated also! As the sun went down I was waiting to see one of the crew put the ladder in position and Caitlin get ready to takeover, but it seemed to take longer than on my first three swims. Eventually, Caitlin did appear at the gate in her togs but, as far as I was concerned, took forever to jump in. When she did, I was incredibly relieved. Catching the ladder was a struggle but I caught it eventually, my hip cramping as I did so. We were so close at this stage, it was time to give Caitlin plenty of vocal and visual encouragement to get into the beach.

Photograph – Jim Boucher

The sun goes down and the White Cliffs of Dover becomes more clearly visible during my last hour of swimming… (Photograph: Jim Boucher)

Caitlin did a great job of bringing us into Shakespeare Beach, where we swam the other day. When the boat couldn’t go any closer, Carol jumped in with her waterproof camera to take a few shots at the finish. Caitlin cleared the water 10 hours 10 minutes and 1 second after we left France, giving us a total time of 20 hours 29 minutes for the 2-way. Needless to say, there was great jubilation on the boat and plenty of patting each other on the back for a job well done. On the beach, Caitlin was greeted by her dad, Derry, as well as Maeve’s fiancé, Martin, and Lynne’s husband, Richie. The three lads deserve great thanks for putting up with us for the whole week and Derry deserves a special thanks for his great cooking, approved of by athletes!

Photograph – Jim Boucher

Caitlin sprints in to the finish at Shakespeare Beach. (Photograph: Jim Boucher)

Finishing before 10:45 pm meant that we could be off the boat and in the White Horse pub in Dover in time for last orders. It is a tradition after successful Channel swims that the swimmers write there names on the walls/ceiling of the pub for posterity…

Photograph – Owen O'Keefe

Our inscription on the ceiling of the White Horse pub in Dover. We were just back in time for last orders! (Photograph: Owen O’Keefe)

Writing upside-down on a ceiling after a 2-way Channel relay is not so easy so Carol and I ended up sharing the writing! The spot that we were allocated was next to that of Nick Caine, a swimmer my own age from California who swam at the Cork Distance Week in 2009 and swam the Channel that year also. Next to our spot, I also wrote in Pádraig Mallon’s swim. Pádraig is from Newry in Northern Ireland and swam the Channel on 6 July in a time of 14 hours 47 minutes.

Chart – Mike Oram

Our chart as produced by Gallivant’s technology.

We have loads more photographs from the swim than the ones in this post. Keep an eye on our Facebook page to see all of the photographs from the swim and our few days in Dover. Don’t forget also that we’re trying to raise €10,000 for Down Syndrome Ireland through the swim – you can support this cause by going to our iDonate page and clicking on “Sponsor Me”. All donations are greatly appreciated.

Thanks to everyone for their support on Twitter and Facebook during the swim!

The Wait is Over!

Good news! The pilot for our 2-way English Channel relay, Mike Oram, called this morning to confirm that we will be meeting him in Dover Marina at midnight tonight with a view to starting our swim for about 1:00 am tomorrow. We’re all packed now and ready to go!

Photograph – Lisa Cummins

The Team! (left-to-right: Caitlin Desmond, Maeve Ryan, Eoin O’Riordan, Owen O’Keefe, Lynne Donnelly, Carol Cashell)

You can follow our progress on Twitter @CrosoigeMara and on our Facebook page. You can also track the boat on bit.ly/Gallivant or on the CS&PF website. Don’t forget that we are doing the swim in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland and you can donate via our iDonate page. I’ll update when we’re done…

Preparations Almost Finished

It’s hard to believe that it’s July already – the summer is flying by! This Saturday, the best event of the year, the “Vibes & Scribes” Lee Swim, takes place in Cork City. I and all of my Crosóige Mara teammates will be there for our last swim at home before leaving for Dover the following day! Everyone on the team has put in a lot of training, including our 2-hour qualifying swims, a night swim and relay changeover practices, so we are ready for whatever the English Channel has to throw at us…

Logo – Maeve Ryan

Crosóige Mara Channel Relay Team 2013

We are doing the swim in aid Down Syndrome Ireland, a very worthy cause, and if you’d like to sponsor us just go to our iDonate page and click “Sponsor Me”. Any support is greatly appreciated by all of the team!

Preparations for Jersey are coming along also. Last Thursday, I had a very nice 7.5 km swim on my own from Fermoy Rowing Club to the rapids above Castlehyde and back. The water seemed quite warm so I decided to try a 6-hour (Round Jersey solo qualifying swim) on Saturday. After a tough pool session with Chris Mintern and a river swim with James O’Mahony on the Friday, I wasn’t 100% sure how the 6-hour would go but I knew that it was possibly my last chance to get it done before heading to Dover…

I started the swim at 7:00 am on the Saturday morning. It was very dull and a bit cool, but the water was still about 15ºC so that was good news! I was swimming upriver to various points on the bank and then back down for my feeds. I got a but cold during the second hour but this soon passed – no harm to get that phase out of the way early in the swim! After about 2 hours, Dave Mulcahy joined me and swam to Glenabo Stream and back, taking about 1 hour 30 minutes. After just over 4 hours I switched from 30 minute intervals to 20 minute intervals as planned. This made the last 2 hours seem a bit quicker.

I finished after 6 hours 3 minutes of swimming, a bit sorer than when I did the 5 hours in the sea in Myrtleville as long swims can be harder in fresh water, with just over 20.5 km swum. Thankfully, Niamh Fleming of Blackwater Tri Club was there to drop me home as my tracksuit pants (with keys and some small change), warm jumper, shoes and even underwear had been stolen from my gear bag during the swim…

The fact that my belongings were stolen caused me great upset. Somebody had obviously meticulously searched through the bag for their target items, i.e. clothes and cash, and left what was on little use to them. For the last 48 hours my major concern has been my missing keys, which included keys to the front door of my own house and my grandfather’s house, as well as keys to the side gates of my house, my bike lock and, most importantly of all, my father’s car. Luckily, I just this minute found that the thief had taken the keys out of the pocket of my tracksuit pants and hidden them in an unused side-pocket of my gear bag. To be honest, I don’t care about the clothes or the small change that I’m not going to get back, I’m just relieved to have my keys and some sense of security back.

On the other hand, this could have been a very serious safety issue. It was a Saturday so there were no construction workers in the area and the Rowing Club were all away at a regatta, and had the weather been bad, there wouldn’t have been anyone around when I finished the swim. I was in the water for just over 6 hours and could have been very cold when I exited. I could have been hypothermic upon exiting without any means of getting assistance. If it came to it, I’d have had to walk into town in my togs – not an ideal situation, as you can imagine. So, I would appeal to anyone engaged in theft to think not just about the monetary/sentimental value of what you’re stealing or the upset that you are causing to the person that you’re stealing from, but about the very real danger in which you’re putting their life if you’re they happen to be swimming at the time.

The difference a day makes…

The weather finally took a turn for the better this Wednesday (the sun came out and we were well into double figures in terms of air temperature and I was able to get my 2-hour qualifying swim for the Crosóige Mara 2-way English Channel relay swim done. I did the swim in the River Blackwater in Fermoy, Dave Mulcahy observing. Here are a few of the photographs that I took during the swim:

Photograph – Owen O'Keefe

At the start of my 2-hour qualifying swim; view of the Bridge obscured by the sheet piling of the flood protection works.

Photograph – Owen O'Keefe

From the new slipway, looking upriver where I did most of my swim. Strange to see blue sky!

Photograph – Owen O'Keefe

This is the view from where we used to start our swims. On the left is Hanley’s Island, where I found live freshwater pearl mussels, and straight ahead is our open-all-hours and very spacious swimming facility…

Photograph – Owen O'Keefe

Looking back down Barnane from the 400 m mark.

Photograph – Owen O'Keefe

Just after fighting the rapids, 2 km upstream from the start, the long straight stretch to Castlehyde just around the corner. I turned back here for safety reasons as it’s out of public view (though it shouldn’t be).

Photograph – Owen O'Keefe

The trees (right) marking the end of the Third Field. This is the point at which swimmers will turn around during the Martin Duggan Memorial Swim on Friday, 14 June 2013. Why wouldn’t you want to swim here?

Photograph – Owen O'Keefe

The bank of the Second Field. There are often bubbles rising from the riverbed along the bank here, I think coming from a silted-up area. It seems odd that I hardly saw anyone on the bank (which is a public walk) during the swim, maybe we don’t appreciate what Fermoy has to offer…

Photograph – Owen O'Keefe

Looking upriver from the 700 m mark. The turning point for the Martin Duggan Memorial Swim just around the corner on the left…

Photograph – Owen O'Keefe

Looking towards Barnane from the 700 m mark, the house “Innisfallen” between the trees.

Photograph – Owen O'Keefe

Buildings in Pearse Square, Fermoy as seen from the Blackwater.

Photograph – Owen O'Keefe

Fermoy Bridge as seen from the water.

Measured by my FINIS Hydro Tracker GPS, the total distance for the swim was 7.12 km and it took me 2 hours 10 minutes to complete (a bit slow I know but I was taking a good few photographs). The water temperature was about 14ºC but the air temperature was very warm with unbroken sunshine! It’s great to have the official 2-hour swim out of the way but I still have my 6-hour qualifier for Jersey to complete (fun).

I hope enjoyed the pictures, even though it seems like a lazy way of posting… Don’t forget that entries are open for the Martin Duggan Memorial Swim on Friday, 14 June 2013 at this great location. That’s just two weeks away so it’s time to start entering!

Gearing up for Jersey

Well, today is the first day resembling summer! It’s very sunny, very warm (17ºC) if a little windy here in Fermoy and the forecast for the next week is reasonably good. This brings great relief as it seemed for a while like the summer would never come. The water has been very cold but now it has some chance of heating up – good news for those os us planning 2 and 6 hour qualifying swims for the next few weeks!

I leave for Dover on 7 July, the day after the Lee Swim, for our Crosóige Mara 2-way English Channel relay and won’t be home before my Round Jersey solo window opens on 21 July. This leaves me with just the month of June to complete my 6 hour qualifying swim for the Jersey swim – doesn’t sound too daunting, but the weather so far this year hasn’t helped… Things are looking better now though so it’s just a case of getting the metres in the shoulders and the hours in the water. Being a student means that I don’t have any excuses  in terms of not having the time. We’ll get there!

Off to attempt my 2 hour relay qualifier now…

Guest Series: Ned’s SCAR Swim Challenge – Part 3

Here is Ned’s account of his first day of the SCAR Swim Challenge in Arizona:

I headed off to the pool today with Gracie while the others went shopping for water, trackers, video camera mountings and other stuff… Small world – she grew up with Julie Galloway who swam the channel while living in Dublin.

There was sort of an invitation to train at the local school pool, so she did all the talking as she is a swim coach and recently broke the long standing Catalina speed record. In her words: “Your reputation probably hasn’t reached Mesa, Arizona, Ned.”

She made her pitch to blank faces at the pool until a swim coach came up to me and said:  “You look like you are here for the SCAR swim. Welcome and swim as you want.”  Gracie claimed that it was the lumpy middle aged man in a Speedo look that did it … but she looked unconvinced.

I put on the zinc and some sun block stuff that she laughed at. She had 15 varieties of Southern California surf stuff. It was 104ºF with a blistering sun.

The girl can swim! I did manage to blast past here at one point. Ok, so she was sculling feet first at the time… 3,500 m – just to get the arms moving again and off to  lunch.

Liz Fry‘s (English Channel 2-way swimmer) sister hosted us with ribs, corn, beans and potato salad and my last beer for a while. I met Dave Barra (organiser of the 7 day Hudson River swim) who helped answer my staged swim questions a few months ago and Tori Gorman from Sydney, who brought regards from Dougal Hunt, who also swam the channel while living in Dublin. The world gets smaller and Tori spent a month in Dover last summer and met the Cork gang!

We then moved over to a sports bar for the official gathering … and met three more swimmers I knew from before and a few friends from Facebook. Lots of different mental approaches in the room: a few there to win, a few to prepare for the Manhattan race, some to complete and a few to have a lash (with seemingly no regard to completing). In fairness, a lot of confidence in the gang but it is early in the season and a lot of early season nerves.

Back at the house, it was like a scene from the TV show “The Wire”: white powder everywhere as about 50 bottles of carbo-drink and recovery drink was measured, mixed and divided between the freezer and fridge. My preparations were on the simple side, Barb has several varieties and Gracie was a real chemist with loads of different powders. Roger muttered something about drinking a can of Pepsi and the ladies looked concerned. I went to bed – Roger is a very experienced marathoner and will be fine in the 10 mile swim on Wednesday.

I need to swim in the shade if I am going to last the sun.  Despite seven sun bed sessions in Cork, I can feel a big burn coming!

Off to sleep now muttering “poli, poli, poli” – Swahili for “slowly”. Just like climbing Kilimanjaro, it is a long way, so go slowly.  The Cork translation would be “take it handy”. I have confidence for the 10 mile lake swim on Wednesday and this will help me.

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Lizard Point Swim

Lizard Point (Cornish: An Lysardh, Irish: An Lios Ard, “the High Fort”) is located on the at the end of the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall and is the southernmost point on the Great British mainland. One of my favourite swims ever was a 7.5 km swim around this infamous headland, starting at Kynance Cove and finishing in Cadgwith, in July 2008.

The Cornish coast is famous, or infamous, for the hundreds of shipwrecks that are scattered around it. It’s also well known for its smuggling, fishing, tin mining and even pirates! I’m very lucky to have an uncle, John Baker, living on the Lizard. Our last few family holidays have been to visit him and, for me, this has involved plenty of swimming…

Image – Google Earth

A Google Earth image of the swim route; Kynance Cove on the left, Lizard Point on the bottom and Cadgwith in the top right.

In November 2007, I booked my English Channel swim and decided that I should use the following summer to gain lots of experience of swimming in various conditions. When I found out that we’d be visiting John in Cornwall in July 2008, I decided to take up a big challenge, i.e. to become the first person to swim around Lizard Point. This would involve researching the location, planning a course, finding a local pilot and all of the other challenges in organising a big swim. At the time, this 7.5 km challenge was my longest swim to date!

Having decided on a date, starting locations, etc., I approached the Lizard Lifeboat (the local RNLI station) for information about tides and getting a pilot. The coxswain, Phil Burgess, was very helpful in all of these preparations and he said that there would be no problem getting one of the crew to take their own small boat to cover the swim. He was also very knowledgable about how the tides and the weather would affect the swim.

When we arrived in Cornwall, the weather was very pleasant but there was a southeasterly wind which was producing some groundswell which wouldn’t have been desirable for the swim. The Doveresque on-and-off possibility of swimming ensued – I hadn’t been expecting this but it did stand to me for the 10 days prior to my English Channel swim the following September. Eventually, we decided that the originally planned date for the swim of Saturday, 26 July would be suitable…

Photograph – George O'Keefe

Starting the swim at the very beautiful and quiet Kynance Cove on the western side of the Lizard peninsula.

It was to be an 07:40 start from the beach at Kynance Cove, an amazing place that deserves a post all of its own. The crew, which consisted of my father, my uncle and local RNLI crewman Nick Pryor, launched at Lizard Point while I went to the start by car, got changed there and gave my stuff to someone to bring to the finish (not the done thing on longer or colder swims when you need to have your stuff close at hand).

The conditions really couldn’t have been any better and I was feeling good – I had trained for the swim, planned it careful and sought local knowledge, made sure that I had gone through all of the proper channels to have the swim ratified by the British Long Distance Swimming Association and even raised some money for the local RNLI in return for their help – I was very satisfied that I’d done everything right and now I just had to swim, the weather was an added bonus!

Photograph – George O'Keefe

Another photograph from the start of the swim showing the serpentine rock which is a distinguishing feature of the Lizard and of Cornwall generally.

Once the boat came, my uncle started the clock and I ran into the clear blue water. The temperature was best described as “familiar”, i.e. it was 15ºC or thereabouts. I was able to relax straight away as the water was clean and clear so I was able to watch the white sand pass under me as it got deeper and deeper and there was barely a ripple on the surface, just a barely-noticeable rise and fall of the oceanic swell. The early morning sun added more to the atmosphere. This was all a far cry from what I had imagined that it would be like to swim along this coast which has claimed so many lives.

Photograph – George O'Keefe

Kynance Cove (far left) where I started the swim and the serpentine cliffs above Pentreath beach. A glorious morning and perfect conditions for the swim!

When planning the route, we had to take into account a large rocky reef which lies just under the surface and extends for nearly 1 km out to see from Lizard Point. We had the choice of either swimming outside it, making the swim more exposed and much longer, or going through a narrow channel called Vellan Drang right under the cliff, making timing with the tide very important. As conditions were good and we had timed the tide perfectly, we decided to take the short cut through Vellan Drang. Nick, being a local, was able to navigate the many rocks and reefs off Lizard Point like nobody else could – it wouldn’t have been possible to do the swim without someone with his knowledge on board.

Photograph – George O'Keefe

Approaching Vellan Drang channel about 20 minutes into the swim. A bank of sea fog started to roll in at this point but we also starting picking up some assistance from the current.

The flowing tide pushed us through the channel at about 3 knots, which was a great boost to my confidence. At this point, I was feeling great and could see that we were right off of Lizard Point – I had effectively completed the main objective of the swim, which nobody had done before, and knew that the last hour or so would be just putting one arm in front of the other until I came to Cadgwith.

Photograph – George O'Keefe

Having shot through the channel with about 3 knots of tidal assistance, there was a brief reprieve from the fog.

Once we had rounded Lizard Point, a bank of sea fog rolled in and visibility was greatly reduced. Luckily, Nick knew that waters very well and was able to keep the base of the cliffs within view. There was no question of safety at any point, the thicker the fog the closer we stayed to the cliffs and once we followed them then we would arrive at our destination as planned.

Photograph – George O'Keefe

Local RNLI Coxswain, Phil Burgess, who was a great help in organising the swim, takes a break from inspecting his lobster pots to follow the remainder of the swim.

After about an hour we met up with Phil Burgess, who was out inspecting his lobster pots for the morning. He had said that he would meet us along the way but seemed surprised to see us so soon – he was expecting a slower swimmer! I now had the luxury of two escort boats which was very nice. The water was still flat and the temperature was constant. This swim was working out even better than expected.

Photograph – George O'Keefe

The dorsal fin of a sunfish (Mola mola) spotted by the boat crew about 1 hour into the swim…

A while later, the crew (not me) noticed a large fin breaking the surface off to my left. My father and uncle immediately assumed that it was a shark but, on closer inspection, found it to be a sunfish or Mola mola. These very large circular fish are regular summer visitors to the Atlantic coasts of Ireland and Great Britain. The crew weren’t entirely off the mark to assume that it was a shark as Phil noted that he had seen a basking shark in the same spot only the day before…

Photograph – George O'Keefe

The fog beginning to thicken after passing the iconic Lizard Lighthouse. The lighthouse’s foghorn began signaling not long after we’d passed…

As the fog horn began blowing, it was time for me to practise a new skill – feeding. I had never taken a feed from a boat before so this was going to ba a new experience for me. It went without any issues and was the first of hundreds of such feeds over the coming two years. It was around this time that I also urinated for the first time during a swim, this is a skill in itself and one that does actually take a lot of practice to perfect – some people have to stop, which wastes time, some (like me) have to slow their kick while a few experts can urinate and continue to swim normally.

Photograph – George O'Keefe

Feeding from the boat at around the 1 hour mark – my first time ever feeding from a boat! I believe that this was the first swim during which I peed also…

The swim carried on in the eerie fog. I passed the 5 km mark, my longest swim before that day. This last leg of the swim took us past Kilcobben Cove where the Lizard Lifeboat is currently based, having been previously based at Polpeor, right under Lizard Point and amongst the many rocks and reefs which we had to navigate earlier on in the swim. Through the swim, and with considerable help from my uncle’s colleagues, I raised a total of £1,200 for the Lizard Lifeboat. This money was used to completely renovate the lifeboat station and to buy a new lifeboat, which was well deserved for this very busy station.

Photograph – George O'Keefe

Swimming past the new Lizard Lifeboat Station at Kilcobben Cove (the old station was located at Polpeor). The money raised through the swim helped to upgrade the station and buy a new lifeboat.

A rocky promontory jutting out from the cliff marks the entrance to Cadgwith Cove and the end of the swim. 1 hour 59 minutes 24 seconds after leaving Kynance Cove, I finished at the steep stony beach at Cadgwith. At the beach were my mother, grandfather and various others, including Chris Maunder of Bosahan who had brought some fresh crab sandwiches and warm towels!

Photograph – George O'Keefe

In Cadgwith Cove after the swim (left-right: Tom Baker, Owen O’Keefe, Nick Pryor, John Baker).

We had a time dissecting the various aspects of the swim on the beach. I was particularly pleased with my time, not having been expecting to break 2 hours. I was also very pleased that the distance wasn’t a huge deal and that the temperature didn’t affect me much either. English Channel training wasn’t seeming so daunting anymore. The swim also gave me peace of mind in that my family took my English Channel attempt a bit more seriously after I’d completed this swim and all of the logistics around it.

Photograph – George O'Keefe

Bidding farewell to Phil Burgess and his freshly-caught lobsters, the fog still quite thick.

This was one of my short but great swims and great thanks are due to the crew of the Lizard Lifeboat, Phil Burgess and Nick Pryor in particular, as well as my uncle and everyone who helped make the swim happen on the day. It’s not one that I’ll be forgetting any time soon!