Deborah Herridge is training to swim the English Channel in the summer of 2017. You may have already read about her training or her other Q&A's here. With such an incredible challenge ahead, Deborah's friends and family have been asking all about the swim. She continues to share with us some answers to the questions they've been asking.
Why swim it when you can take a ferry? Or as some people put it "just why?"!
Good point. It would be quicker, cheaper, less painful and not so cold, but the swim a good way to raise funds for charity. It’s also a life changing challenge; the training, the big day itself, I'm not sure there is anything quite like it. I love long distance swimming, and it seemed like the next step up after previously swimming 14 miles. Some may say I could have stopped there, but I do love a good challenge. This quote I saw says it all:
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined".
I would add to that "and work hard for it, harder than you've ever worked".
Is it weather dependant or sea dependant?
Both. I'm no expert on the weather but I've learnt a lot over the past few years. The weather usually dictates what the sea is going to do. Stormy weather usually means a no go unless it's about to pass through and become a lot calmer, but even then the sea will be churned up for a while so it would be a very tough swim. The UK weather is so unpredictable, it's a tough call, it could start off calm and then the weather could change for the worse, like on the two-way Solent swim, which came out of the blue, literally.
I have every faith in my pilot Neil Streeter who is the captain of Suva, and crew mate Sam Jones to say when it’s the right time to go, and guide me across safely when the time is right. But the saying "train for the worst, hope for the best" very much applies. I have confidence in the knowledge I managed the last few hours of the last swim in very challenging conditions.
Why don't you wear a wetsuit? Wouldn't that keep you warmer?
Yes they do keep you warmer, and also more buoyant, so more streamlined and thus faster. But under Channel and Marathon swimming rules, for it to be classed as an 'unassisted swim' we're only allowed to wear a swimming costume, one hat, and goggles. So my trusted Zoggs Predator Flex Polarised will be helping me during the daylight hours of the swim, and the clear Predators for the night.
Are you an ex competitive swimmer?
No. I was a "30 lengths of the pool a few times a week" swimmer until I was inspired by the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics to get fit.
How many people are in the support crew and do you have to find all these people yourself?
This is up to the swimmer, but the boats don't advise anymore than about 4, as the boat would become overcrowded. I have a team of three people on my crew.
Is there a particular point you have to start from and land for it to count?
Swims usually start on either Shakespeare's beach or Samphire Hoe near Dover and aim to finish at or near Cap Gris Nez (between Boulogne and Calais).
How long does it take to warm up after a swim?
Everyone is different, but for me it depends on how long I've swam for, the temperature of the sea, the wind chill factor and whether the sun is out or not. In the coldest months when the sea is around 5°C, I'll swim for no longer than 15-20 mins max and will have a bath when I get home, and it takes me an hour or so to warm up fully. After my longest ever swim of 7 hours 18 minutes when the water varied from 16 - 17°C it didn’t take too long, but my toes remained blue and numb for a while until the blood flowed back from my core. I've never gotten into any difficulty and I'm very aware of my limitations when it comes to the cold.
Do you have other plans beyond the Channel?
One swim at a time, but yes, if I get to France, then I hope to do some more long swims.