the water is very cold…

Over the past few months, (as I mentioned before) I have become buddies over the net with a few other people who were also training to swim the channel.

As of last week,  4 of the 5 failed in their attempts, and the 5th after waiting two weeks, finally had to cancel his swim attempt and fly back to America because of bad weather.

Last week, the most confident (cocky)  I have met training for this, failed … he quit his attempt just 6 hours in the water because of the cold …

But during this same period where these people quit, a few others have succeeded.

Every single report I have read about the English channel swim challenge states this challenge is 90% mental.

Tonight I called my captain to find out how the weather was looking for my swim which will be either this Thursday or Friday.
He told me everything looks good for an attempt on Thursday, Sept. 2nd.

We will start at 2:00 am and he expects me in the water by 3:00 am … and he laughing said,  “the water will be a lot warmer than the air… because the air will be between 6-8 degree’s celcius” (40-43 degrees F) and the water 16 degrees celcius (62 degree F)

My first thought wasn’t   “great!  I cant wait to start my swim ….”
My first thought was   “damnnnnn…. that’s cold ……”

Sophie got me sorted straight away with her, “Of course its cold.  It’s the English Channel thats exactly why you are doing this“….

If I focus on the cold, before or during this swim  – I will fail.


It all depends on me.

It’s interesting to think about life and how mental everything is.

A week ago,  a friend sent me a book to help me mentally prepare for my english channel swim challenge.

The book “Running on Faith” is the story of Jason Lester, a multi-ironman finisher, 2 time ultraman, he created “EPIC5,”  5 ironman in 5 days on the 5 islands of Hawaii…

What makes Jason’s story unique is that he achieves all of these adventure, endurance challenges with the use of just one of his arms.

But I don’t think reading about JPL’s incredible story of making life happen in the face of adversity was the reason my friend sent me the book….

In the beginning of the book, Jason asks an interesting question:

“When does the human spirit give in to the limits of the human body and just close up shop?  Or can we go as far as our spirit takes us?”

Using his story, he shows how strong the human spirit can be when it is not blinded or consumed by negativity ….

I won’t go into the details of the book – but it’s an interesting question or thought:  “can we go as far as our spirit wants to take us?”

My 4 different forum buddies who failed to cross the channel over the past 6 weeks … what separates them from the several who succeeded?

Have you failed at something because you let negativity blind you/blind your spirit from seeing the finish?

I think everyone has.

Today – I fly to London to get ready for my swim on Thursday.


For those interested in reading more about Jason Lester’s “Running on Faith”

Great book —  I read it in one sitting.
I even read two of the chapters three times.


5 thoughts on “the water is very cold…

  1. Whether I train or work or just live, I strive for the exceptional, for the shift – and I struggle at times -but I get creative, I persist because we know: the joy of overcoming challenges has no substitute.

    Be kind to yourself.

    I wish you the very best of luck with the swim.

  2. loneswimmer

    First, well done on your swim.

    I found this post interesting though because it seems to imply that PMA (positive mental attitude) is all that counts. Let’s set the training aside, and assume one has done sufficient (not always the case).

    The Channel is also about LUCK. And PMA can’t always overcome luck.

    One of those who went home in the last few weeks was a friend who has trained for a year, is incredibly tough, but got weathered out. What has PMA got to do with that? It will be 2 years before he can return for financial reasons.

    Another friend, the toughest I know, and the one who lives on PMA, made it to 3/4 of mile from France. When pulled from the water he was still trying to swim. His weather had come up stronger than predicted and he swam for 16 hours in Force 5 winds. How many can do 16 hours in F5?

    I know a lot of Channel swimmers. And I mean successful swimmers, not aspirants. And they all acknowledge the importance of the day and the weather and the luck. One person’s swim on a good day should never be compared to anyone else’s Channel swim. You cannot know what they went through in most cases.

    And I think there is too much mythologizing of the Channel temperature.

    You talk a lot about the cold. The Channel was 17C. That’s not cold. I don’t care where someone lives. Once water is over 15C, so long as you keep swimming and feeding and hydrating, there is NO cold issue.

  3. I read a bunch of blogs while training for my swim, one of them said: “Remember, for open-water, it’s all about the mind, not the speed.” (I wonder if he changed his mind since his swim)

    On Sept 2nd, the day I swam, 9 attempts were made with only me and one other succeeding, and I was told the other was a relay … why did I make it when 7 others didn’t?

    I don’t think it was because I was “luckier.”

    I definitely don’t think it’s because I am a stronger, better fit swimmer – I guarantee I trained LESS than all the others.

    However, I had a great captain and crew who kept me positive and focused the entire swim, i.e. they never told me how long I had swum, how far I had to go, etc.

    When I was stuck for 3 hours in a current, they told me I was “flying” with the current at my back, thus when I finally finished my swim, I expected to be around 11-12 hours, NOT 14.

    The truth is … if I had known how much further I had to swim, or that the last 5 hours of my swim the winds were force 4-5, I bet my mind would have cracked and I would have failed, and surely justified my reason for failing.

    Not to mention the 56 year old woman who survived 28 hours in similar weather conditions… what kept her going?

    Was it luck?

    As for the cold … this is your opinion vs mine.

    Its impressive you don’t consider 15 or 17 degrees cold, but for me … even 18 degrees is cold ..
    CSA official and my captain said the channel temp was 16.2 the day I swam.

    And in my world, 16.2, 17, 18, and even 20 feels cold.

    lastly, the blog you left your comment on is not suggesting I know any secrets to swimming the channel, but more on exploring the concept of staying positive when times get tough.

    Exploring/discussing the power of positive mental attitude.

    Although I did 2 ironman this year and had some what of a fitness base, I started my channel swim training July 4th only after the ironman france end of June.

    I registered to swim 2 months past the deadline.
    I got “lucky” and found a “new” pilot (but i made my luck happen because i chased and chased and chased so many people to find a captain)

    I never tried maxim until 5 hours before my swim. (they dont sell it in Dubai or France, at least I couldnt find it and the UK stores wouldnt deliver it to France because I dont have a UK credit card)

    I am a good example of someone who shouldn’t have been able to swim the channel, but I did it anyways because we, my crew and I didn’t let any negatives bring me down.

    In the blog you refer to, I used the channel swim only as an example because it’s interesting to wonder why some succeed and others fail ….

    As someone said in his blog: “Remember, for open-water, it’s all about the mind……”