Tracy Clark became the 14th New Zealander and possibly the 1st Hilversumer to cross the English Channel Sunday
Long term resident and well known volunteer Tracy Clark completed swimming the English Channel in 12 hours and 46 minutes.
“I want to thank everyone in Hilversum for their message of support. It was simply overwhelming. As the texts and messages came in my husband Andy would write them on a white board, and this kept me motivated to go on.” Tracy told HilversumToday on her drive back from France, after completing swimming the English Channel.
“Swimming the Channel is 20% physical and 80% mental. All those messages and the thoughts of my sons Connor 10, and Alexander 12, really kept me going.”
Tracy’s 32km swim was accomplished without the use of a wetsuit, as it is against the Channel Swimming Association rules to use one. 43 year-old Tracy had to gain 12kg to keep warm during the swim. Tracy, who is originally from New Zealand, spent about 18 months preparing for the crossing.
She had realised she preferred swimming longer distances while growing up in west Auckland and being a member of the Avondale Swimming Club, then later the Mt Eden Swimming Club.
“I’m not built for speed,” she said.
She had become involved in longer distance swimming in her 20s, although that had faded away when she began traveling and raising a family.
“With a challenge such as swimming the Channel it was necessary to be at a point in your life where you had time to commit to the training.” Tracy said.
“That’s why a lot of people who attempt the channel successfully are older.”
The most difficult part of the challenge was the weather, which began as calm but deteriorated 3 hours into her swim producing waves as high as 2m. Tracy became seasick and vomited.
About four hours before the end of the 12-hour 46-minute swim her left shoulder started causing her trouble. Fortunately there was not much pain when she was pulling the arm through the water.
“But lifting it out of the water to bring it forward again I was getting stabbing pains into my shoulder and down my arm,” Tracy said.
At that time she had thought of two friends dealing with cancer – one for the third time and the other for the second.
“I just kept saying their names over and over in my head … I thought, ‘get your shoulder moving’.”
After successfully crossing the channel inside her target of 14 hours, landing at Cap Gris-Nez in France, Tracy had to touch the rocks on shore in order to qualify. “The huge waves were crashing onto the shore and it was really frightening. My support team and the officials were yelling at me to get away from them and climb into the boat.”
“I threw up constantly on the trip back and fainted three times.”
Tracy decided to swim the channel for charity after raising almost €2000 in the Amsterdam marathon.
The three charities to benefit from the swim are human trafficking organisation Fairwork, Breast Cancer Research Charity, and Dalyan Dog Rehabilitation Centre based in Turkey.