Virtual Channel Swim – Part 4 – French Shipping Lane

My good friend Sarah sent me an awesome workout plan for a week – just when pool swimming was starting to wear me down.  A virtual channel swim.  She divided the English Channel into parts – Dover to the British Shipping Lane (9.25km), British Shipping Lane (7.4km), Separation Zone (1.85km), French Shipping Lane (6.5km), and French Shipping Lane to Cape Gris-Nez (9.25km). I was positively ecstatic about the idea.  My imagination was already incorporating memories from my trip to Dover and my experience as crew with the boundless possibilities of what might happen with my Channel swim.  I thought it might be fun to blog about the different parts of this adventure.


Finally through the Separation Zone.  We are in French waters. Halfway there.  Maybe more than halfway.  I am starting to feel the fatigue.  Giddy.  Silly.  I’ve said things to my crew that were only funny to me.  Then I assure them I’m not crazy.  France is just ahead somewhere.  I’ve never been to France before.  And I get to make my debut by swimming!  What a life I get to live! It’s the first country I will get to stand on for the first time after having swum there…


I was really tired when I pushed off from the wall at Pico Sports Center in Vermont.  It was early morning and I was late because I overslept after getting home late the night before.  I contemplated this briefly for a moment.  I guess it was a lot to ask.  A virtual channel swim during the work week when you have a 3 hour daily commute and work overtime…


I look up at the boat.  I wonder if the boat captain or crew checked us into French waters already?  The fog makes everything eerie and soft.  The ships moving in and out of the fog disappear as soon as they appear, sometimes.  Did I actually see them?  Or just think I did?


I am going to be late.


No, like… really, REALLY late for my appointment.  But I have to swim.  I have to.  It’s only a season of my life – this dream.  It’s only now that it gets to be this important.  Only a season and then, the way that all seasons go, it will be done.  In my normal life vision after this season – there are more dreams and more things to do and there is a pool in Rutland, Vermont that I can swim in three or four times a week and talk to kids about swimming and maybe litter their lanes with kickboards and make them swim through them…  Or not.


…I am so tired.


No feed today.  I don’t need it.  It’s only 2 hours of swimming to get through the French Shipping Lane.  Only 2 hours.  It’s kind of neat that to break the English Channel into parts like this.  I like the empty feeling in my stomach.  I really, really like it.


My muscles are so tight and tired…


Oh wait. They really are tight and tired…


Oh, but out here… out here in the elements and the salt and the wind:  I’m just on the other side of halfway! That’s always, always, always one of my favorite places.  It’s like the ‘if nothing has stopped me yet, then nothing can stop me now!’ point of the swim.  I know it’s the Channel and nothing is ever really certain about the English Channel.  But there are a few things I know about me.  And this feeling is one of them.


“Cause we are alive… we are strong… can’t watch it go for nothing… watch until it’s gone… we are down… we can choose… we’ve got nothing else to live for, nothing left to lose…”


I wondered about my shoulders.  Would they start to feel sore?  I wondered about adding Advil to my feed.  The good news is that this feed seems to be working!  I thought about those times when I get really tired and swim with my eyes closed.  I wondered how many pairs of goggles I should have with me.  I wondered if I would have to change them… and should I try to find a better kind now?  It must be too late for that… goggle shopping.  Who knew swimming could be so high maintenance… or that I could be so particular about things like goggles.  Well, it is swimming – you don’t get to wear much, so you better make it count.  I laughed.


It wasn’t long until I was at 4 miles.  I had made it.  Even though I was going to be late. Even though I was tired.


After all, after this- I’m not halfway done… I’m mostly there!

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