Deborah Herridge is training to swim the English Channel in the summer of 2017. She's been sharing her journey with us in our Zoggs Swim Diaries. Deborah has been answering questions from friends and family about the swim. Here we share the last of her answers to questions that have been sent her way around her training and the swim itself.
What motivates you to go out and train when the weather is horrible?
I'm quite a motivated and determined person, and thinking of the end goal and the desire to raise another £10k for charity always helps, and my husband Robert, who is also my coach, also helps immensely with motivation. Last year on a windy cold day when I wanted to stay in and keep warm, and not train in the cold choppy sea, Robert said some inspiring words.
"When you set off from Dover the weather might be nice, and it might be nice when you step onto the beach in France, but it might also be windy and choppy in the middle, and you'll wish you’d trained on choppy and windy days, and then you will remember that you did train on those windy and choppy days, and it will make you smile, and you will be glad you did because it will give you the physical and emotional strength to see it through."
Why don't you swim the shortest distance of the Channel from point to point?
We try to, that distance is 21 miles, from Dover to Cap Gris Nez, but the tides push the swimmer sideways in an ‘S’ shape. The tides on the French side are famous for being very strong, so the swimmer may look like they’re about to land at the Cap, but then be swept further down the coast by the tides, resulting in a longer swim.
Are there "rules" to make it "official" and logged anywhere?
Yes, channel swims are certified by either the CS&PF or the CSA. There will be an official Observer on the boat who verifies all the rules are being met, no touching the boat or people, clearing the water at either end etc.
I’ve chosen three 'best bits'’.
Training, I love it. I like the feeling of working hard and seeing improvements.
The feeling of accomplishment in getting across a stretch of water.
Raising loads of money for charity (£10k for the last swims) and hopefully helping some people on the way.
The nerves I get before a swim event in a group or big solo swim, the nerves mainly affect my stomach, but as soon as I start swimming, they disappear, thankfully.
Do you become a member of an exclusive club having completed it?
Yes I guess I do! I would become a Channel Swimmer.
According to the statistics on www.dover.uk.com, at the time of writing, "1,619 swimmers have completed a total of 2,123 solo swims" although that figure will have increased by the time this is published. Compare that to the 6,871 ascents of Everest by 4,042 people, you can see why it's called the Mount Everest of Swimming.
What have you learned about yourself?
I'm mentally tougher than I ever thought I could be, and physically I've surprised myself in the short time I've been swimming properly, started training in the pool in January 2013 for a 4 mile pool swim as part of a 44 mile triathlon, and had my first sea swim in July that year, and then the proper regular training started in the sea in April 2014. I’ve learnt it's possible to turn a fairly unfit person into a fit one.
What decides the swimming style choice you make, i.e. breaststroke with head above the water, submerged breaststroke, crawl etc?
The swimmer. They do whatever they feel is their strongest stroke. Not many have done it breast stroke, even fewer butterfly (yes really!), most people swim front crawl. My strongest stroke is front crawl so I’ll be swimming that stroke.
Deborah will be keeping us updated with her training in our Zoggs Swim Diaries, and you can find her other three Q&A articles here.
Deborah is swimming the channel for a total of 4 charities, and you can help show your support by sponsoring her via her fundraising page.