Zoggs Swim Diaries: A solo swim to France? No, it’s a huge team effort!

The time is almost here! As Deborah waits for her channel swim to arrive she shares how she is feeling...

As I sit here in the middle of the night, wide awake with a mixture of excitement, trepidation and some nerves that are coming and going, mainly from not knowing when I’m going to swim, rather than the swim itself, I’m reflecting on so many things. The main thing that springs to mind is the phrase ‘a solo swim’, when in fact it is far from that. The amount of people who have helped me reach this point would read like an Oscars speech, so I will try not to do a Gwyneth Paltrow, but I would like to thank a few people:


Deborah with her swim group 'The Shack Sharks' Deborah with her swim group 'The Shack Sharks'


  • The swimming community, a worldwide movement of open water swimmers, social media support groups, swim groups that I am part of and all of their members, to Durley Sea Swims who provide a wonderful support network for people training for long distance swims and who have supported much of my training, to Dover Channel Training, who, although I have not attending any of their training sessions, have helped in so many ways with advice and support, and especially to my local community of swimmers, The Shack Sharks, with whom I have made life-long friendships, ‘my ladies’ as I affectionately call them, although there are some lovely chaps in the group as well. In The Sharks, I have a place where I can do the thing I love to do, a place I call Shark Bay, full of friendly sharks, great company as well as such support, they have all helped support me on my very long training swims, standing on the beach during 7 hour swims and passing me drinks and positive messages, you all know who you are, and one friend in particular has helped me recover and be well again after the little glitch I had last year.
  • All of my family, and especially my sister Patricia, for everything, (I’m glad you have stopped worrying that sharks are going to eat me, but there is a first time for everything I suppose…), and through my sister I feel close to my dear and much missed mum June, gone but never far away.
  • The five charities for all their support (Alzheimer’s Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, The Oakley Waterman Caravan Foundation, The Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, and Canine Partners for naming a new puppy after my mum). My aim was to raise £5000 for the charities, and so far I’ve raised over £7566, and I’m sure there will be more to come.
  • To all the team at Zoggs who have supported me with kit over the past few years and allowed me to talk about this swim journey through my Zoggs Diaries, and all the other companies including Zoggs who have provided over 100 amazing prizes for my Channel Swim Prize Draw, a way of giving something back something to my many sponsors over the years.
  • Finally, to the main man, without whom I would not be able to do this, he provides the training and guidance, he nursed me back to health from a woman who couldn’t walk upstairs without help a year ago to this, a woman who is going to swim across the English Channel, he made me fit again, he makes me laugh and is my world, my husband, coach and rock, Robert. He gets the gold medal, again. (an ex Scottish Champion rower). And Robert has done this without any knowledge of swimming – simply adapting the techniques used to make rowers develop and go faster – he has been ably assisted by a very good friend and swim coach based in Essex.

Deborah During her training

It’s three days into my tidal window, and there are 5 days remaining before the time to swim in this tide runs out, and the next cycle of swimmers, on the spring tide get their turn to swim. I’d heard about how hard the waiting was, but I never quite imagined how hard it was until now. I’m trying not to look at the weather forecast constantly, or try to find the site with the best weather, and constantly updating it, (who me?!) and wonder if I might go at the weekend perhaps before my tide runs out. One relay team has gone, and another will be going soon, and then it is my turn, hopefully, as long as the weather doesn’t change. It has been near perfect this past week as I watch all the swimmers go one by one, and then there’s just me all alone wondering if the sea will stay nice and calm, unlike on most of my training swims.

"I'm trying to remain my normal positive and cheery self but this is a waiting game"

I’m trying to remain my normal positive and cheery self but this waiting game is certainly testing my limits of positivity! I’ve not been blessed with children, but I guess it may similar to waiting for the baby to arrive and not quite knowing what to expect. Mindful that it’s probably going to be painful at times, but one of the most rewarding experiences when it happens, I hope I get to bring my channel baby home - it’s been three years in the making and I will certainly try my very best and give it everything that I have. Hopefully by me doing this I might be able to help change at least one person’s life for the better.

Deborah during a training channel swim

As the song goes, “Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye”. Farewell and see you on the French sand, not literally but hopefully in spirit.

For info on my prize draw, all the prizes and to support the five charities I’m swimming 21 miles to France for, please help me to raise lots more for them: https://www.justgiving.com/teams/DeborahsEnglishChannelSwim