Brrr… Preparing to Take on the Channel

STA Tutor Sue Brown is currently in training for a 6-person relay Channel Crossing, and here she discusses her thoughts on the challenge that lies ahead in July and her fears.

This is My Challenge… What’s Yours?

6 Person Relay Channel Crossing 1st – 8th July

“Well, I hope it’s not going to take that long! I am part of Team 3 doing the crossing that week. I have to keep the week free and await the call from our Pilot. I will then be on my way to Dover with nothing but a swim costume, goggles and hat. The sort of things to look forward to are ice-cold salty water (14 – 16 degrees), jumping in day or night taking turns of 1 hour swim each, 5 hours of possible sea sickness between each swim, jelly fish and big tankers which will slowly cross our way and then leave you coping with a big swell!

I was born in warmer climates and learnt to swim in the sea, hence I feel comfortable in the sea but my biggest challenge and fear is the cold. My current training is to acclimate to the cold. This involves swimming outdoors twice a week in temperatures which are now between 1 – 3 degrees. Getting into cold water causes a hormone release known as ‘cold shock’. It causes an initial gasp reflex, followed by hyperventilation and an immediate increase in heart rate and blood pressure. These sensations fortunately last only a few minutes.

After getting out there is a very small window in which to get dressed before the ‘shivering’ starts, as this is the body’s primary method of heat production. Then it’s a hot drink while my colleague Sharon sings Beyoncé’s ‘I’m a single lady’ as I am apparently shivering in time to the beat! As I try and drink a hot chocolate it brings a whole new meaning to the expression ‘shaken not stirred’!

Mentally I have to prepare myself each time for getting in the water. I put on my waterproof watch each morning I do the swim. This somehow focuses my mind on the fact that I will be getting in. Once in I keep a mantra in my head of ‘I’m feeling good’.

I do suffer from sea sickness so that will be my challenge to overcome when doing the swim. If anyone has any remedies please let me know!

No challenge is achievable without support and encouragement and for mine I give heartfelt thanks to all at Moreton Hall Health Club where I work, and my fellow open water swimmers.

Why am I doing this…? My business partner, Judith, died of cancer last year and raising money for her two favourite charities, Wateraid, and Teenage Cancer Trust, is my motivation.

Good Luck Sue.

Images of Sue Brown training for the challenge.


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