Saturday, September 4, 2010

English Channel

by Jim Meier

One must appreciate that the Channel always calls the shots. This is part of its allure. Swimmers hope for calm waters or, even better, rolling waves with a tale wind to help push you toward France, and are tortured by the possibility that you won't get a chance to "go out" – the reality for perhaps two dozen swimmers in the tide before mine. There are days that are unswimmable, a few days that are perfect, and everything in between.

From my start yesterday at 3:00 am (Thursday), I had washing machine conditions, very tough. I swam for a little over 11.5 hours into the southern shipping lane when I called it quits. My crew had informed me at my prior feeding (feedings every 30 minutes) that I had been fighting currents and had made no progress for the half hour preceding. I had tried to pick up the pace and, regardless of whether I succeeded, had been pushed backward during that last 30 minutes. The day before two friends – Dave Barra and Nick Levine – had been stuck in place for about 4 hours but, both much faster swimmers than I am (and with calmer conditions for the early part of their swims), were within two miles of the coast and both finished in under 15 hours. I have no regrets. I got what I came for. I later learned that of the 5 people swimming on Thursday, only one made it to France.

My crew of five including my kids, Jacob and Joslyn, and friends Nir, Bernard and Ken were fabulous. I could write pages about the unique and collective contributions each one made to the experience.

One learns a lot about many aspects of one self in the months of preparing for this endeavor. Yesterday, after the swim, I saw things I would do differently the next time in my training, prep, etc. A very large percentage of swimmers (I know at least a dozen) who did not succeed the first time come back for a second try. This magical pull is another aspect of the Channel's allure.

I came here with the clear realization and conviction that this would be my first and last attempt; the intensity of training and mental focus over the past year and a half have been consuming, and my age is an immutable limiting factor. So I will not be making another attempt ….I think.

1 comment:

BrooklynMermaid said...

Jim, I think you should wait 5 years and go for the "oldest man" record!