My Catalina Channel swim was first booked for September 2014. Sadly, I had to cancel this booking with Captain Greg and the boat Bottom Scratcher due to a tear in my bicep tendon – an injury I picked up during my successful English Channel swim on 1 September 2013. Undeterred and still out of full marathon swim training and very unfit – I rebooked my swim for 21/22 September 2015, feeling confident that all would be well by then! This decision was not based on medical advice, purely my drive to finally plan my next swim and start building up towards it.
There’s always a story and a journey leading up to any of these big ocean, channel/strait swims. Mine of course started with my English Channel swim. I LOVED it and I wanted more!! However, injury did slow this down! During my stay at Varne Ridge English Channel Accommodation, I had a chance meeting with ocean legend Roger Finch. Roger and I clicked immediately and a wonderful friendship grew. The following year, Roger asked me to help crew for Otto Thaning’s English Channel swim and attempt to be the oldest person to succeed. I look upon my injury and subsequent cancellation as a ‘meant to be’ moment in life. Had I not been injured, I would not have been available to crew for this great man’s swim and help my friend Roger out. Everything for a reason indeed! Crewing alongside Roger for Otto’s incredible world record swim and then, the next day, for Charlotte Samuels’ successful English Channel swim and world record as the youngest Triple Crown recipient (at the tender age of 16) inspired me to get training and prepare myself for Catalina the following year. How could I not be inspired when I was in the company of such ocean greats! Everything, of course, relied on my injury continuing to progress and allow me to train and swim for hours on end.
I booked a swim training camp with Adam Walker in Malta for the following March. I decided my stroke needed a complete overhaul and I liked Adam’s practical and relaxed approach to this. I was still getting pain in my left shoulder during any lengthy swims – which of course I wasn’t telling anyone about! With Adam’s technique I managed a six hour swim in Malta PAIN FREE. Three months after the swim camp, I got to complete my next crossing which was the Gibraltar Strait on 9 June alongside Roger Finch.
With regular pool sessions and ocean swims, I also completed Ned Denison’s Cork Distance Week – which is actually 9 days long!!! The reasoning behind this is because you never know how long these ocean swims are going to take, so a week becomes 9 days! I met the most wonderful and inspiring friends in Kinsale, Ireland. We swam in 10-14 degrees water and bolstered each other on in the rough water and cold temperatures. We got the shakes and the giggles together!!! Truly wonderful experiences with fabulous people! This training added to my mental confidence to be Catalina ready.
Welcome signs made by Liz Schlicher and Brian Tabor my hosts in San Diego.
Liz and Brian. Watching some American Football.
Swimming with Channel legend Anne Cleveland.