Deborah Herridge is training to swim the English Channel in the summer of 2017. She's been sharing her journey with us from 30 lengths in the pool to a 21 mile Channel Swim, and now here's the latest from Deborah.
'New Year, New Me', I’m seeing this everywhere, but what I would like is 'New Year, Old Me', the '2015 Me' for 2017 please.
The 'Me' that progressed from a 7-mile swimmer to a swimmer who could complete more than 14 miles.
A 'Me' who could swim in very tough conditions.
A 'Me' who was fit and healthy who would never give up.
A 'Me' that when the going got tough, thoughts of the charities she was doing it for and all the people that had generously sponsored her and were supporting from the sea and shore, she would never give up for them either.
A 'Me' that had a brilliant crew and safety boat pilot supporting her, willing her on, a 'Me' that will not stop for them and all the work that have put into getting her here.
So that is the 'Me' that I wish for 2017, and I will achieve it with some good solid winter, spring and summer training. I am dedicated and will do everything I can to make it work.
But this 'Me' will have a few additions, a 'Me' who can swim 21 miles or more, across a bigger, deeper, busier, and possibly much wilder stretch of water, the English Channel, the busiest shipping lane in the world and one of the toughest swims in the world.
2017 is upon us and the year that I can finally say "This year I will swim to France", none of this "This year I will TRY and swim to France" that I have been known to say, a positive mental attitude is what I need, without that there's no point in setting off, because without a strong mind and belief in what you can achieve, all sorts of demons could creep in when I'm growing tired, and I'm sure I will grow tired in what could be a 15 hour plus swim. But my supportive crew will will me on, and the reasons why I'm doing this swim will help me collect that elusive French pebble. To raise money for 5 charities close to my heart.
I'm putting all the negatives of 2016 behind me, the 3 months with no swimming and not being able to do anything other than rest, the post viral fatigue from the pneumonia that struck me down like a bolt of lightning, and which seemed to last forever.
Instead I will be taking the many positives out of the past year.
My lungs have repaired and are strong again.
The whole horrid experience has made me mentally stronger. I've learnt even more patience and acceptance, which will come in very handy if my pilot tells me I’ve missed the tide and have to swim for a few more hours.
I also have many positives from the swimming I managed last year to take forward as well.
Before I became ill I had some good solid pool training, which saw my speed increase and I had also had a brilliant intensive training week away in Wales at the Olympic sized pool in Swansea where I felt like a proper athlete, as all I did was train and treat my body like a temple - sleep, eat, swim, eat, rest, swim, eat, sleep and repeat, and where I covered 21 miles over 4 days, and I felt fit and strong afterwards.
I also completed 2 x 5k Swimathons over a weekend in March and got a personal best, knocking 3 minutes off the previous year's 5k, getting a time of 1 hour 35 minutes and 19 seconds and knocking 9 minutes and 31 seconds off my first ever 5k two year’s earlier in 2014 when I got a time of 1 hour 44 minutes and 50 seconds, so the pool training had worked well to increase my speed.
I had to cancel some planned swims and was very disappointed to have to do this, so the one thing I clung onto was getting fit enough to get my 6 hour Channel Qualifying Swim, so I could take something positive away with me into the winter.
I knew this wasn't going to be easy, especially as my first swim back in the sea at the end of June was just ten minutes, I was simply too weak to do any more. With the guidance of my team, we built me back up gradually and sensibly, and I did some good strong sea swims each week building the times up hour by hour, so through September I did 1,2,3,4 and 5 hour swims, and I felt strong again, and timed it perfectly with the water dipping below 16°C, I was able to get my 6 hour Channel Qualifying Swim in October when the water was 15-15.4°C during the 6 hours of my swim, and it felt good to swim that long in that temperature, I am built for endurance and enjoy the hours and hours in the water. My nerves vanish when I start swimming and my body relaxes. I feel at home in the sea. But I must find some more songs to sing other than "Somewhere beyond the Sea", which was the only song I could recall for 6 hours!
I will remember all these many positives as I swim to France later this summer wearing all my Zoggs gear including my trusted Zoggs Predator Flex Polarized goggles for when the sun shines (hopefully) and my Zoggs Predator Flex Clear goggles for the night swimming.
Now to set about doing what this is all for, to raise money for charity, and what inspiring charities I am supporting. I call them the 'Fantastic Five' and I hope all my efforts in training for this swim in the past three years, all the ups and downs, and the swim itself will help them all carry out their good work. To see the charities I'm supporting click on the link below.
With the help of Zoggs ongoing sponsorship who have generously given me kit, I’ve finally saved up for all of the costs needed for my channel solo swim, and will be paying all of those costs myself, the Channel pilot boat, the registration and membership for the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, which is about £3,300 in total, so any money donated from here on in goes directly to the charities and will help them enormously.
If you can help, please sponsor me here. Every pound counts.