I am a Channel Swimmer! It’s been a long time dreaming of the moment I can say that and now I’ve done it! It was really really tough it ways that I didn’t expect. I thought it would be tiring and I would have to get over constant pain in my muscles, and hours of boredom but it was so bad I didn’t notice that pain at all and never felt bored.
On Tuesday the 5th August, I left the shore at Dover at 4.11am, the first hour was going well I was on the left so I could breathe on my preferred side and see the boat. I was also slightly sheltered from the waves but the boat fumes were blowing on me. Just before my first feed at around 50 mins in I suddenly was violently sick. A bit of nerves, seasickness and fumes I think. I took the first sip of the first feed 10 mins later and was sick again. I continued being sick every 10 to 15 minutes for the next 2 hours. The kind of bend double vomiting bile sickness that would have you in bed all day. So that but treading water. No feeds in and the sickness made me feel cold. After just 2.5 hours of Channel swimming I was very close to thinking the game was up. How could I go on like this? Luckily I knew so many people were watching the tracker I felt I could’t just give up so early in the game when it was so pitifully short compared to my training swims. Every time I was sick I turned away from my crew incase I caught a worried look from them or sympathy and I might crack. So I just carried on swimming in-between.
Things improved slightly when I moved to the other side of the boat where it was fume free but quite a bit choppier. I was having trouble navigating as I was in a bit of a physical mess already and trying to breathe bilaterally when it was so choppy was tricky. We left all my feeds and i was given sips of black tea with sugar. The vomiting was now only when I stopped for this so every 30mins for the 4th and 5th hour. Also much earlier than planned I hadTyler Jenkins jump in as a support swimmer next to me so I could watch and follow him for an hour while he kept an eye on the boat. Every other hour I had a support swimmer in rotation, so after an hour on my own then Melanie Hall, then another hour on my own then Peter Lowe. the vomiting subsided with the last after 6 hours.
The White cliffs of Dover never seem to fade away but when I realised I was surrounded by shipping I knew I was making great progress and was in the first shipping lane. Before I new it and around 6.5 hours in I think I was in the separation zone, by which time I was suddenly feeling much better, the sea was calm and I could bilateral breathe like a champ! I swam and swam as fast as I could for the next six hours feeling pretty good. I had some bad stings from jelly fish on my fore arms and ankle but the pain which stayed for a couple of hours was something different than the thoughts of “don’t be sick, don’t be sick” which had occupied my mind for the first few hours! My feeds were very slow. I was sipping slowly and cautiously, taking around 3 minutes which by channel swimming standards is really slow, adding 6 minutes every hour to my time. I couldn’t take that much on but it was obviously enough, although worryingly I didn’t need to wee for the entire swim! Somehow I found myself in the second shipping channel ahead of where I thought I’d be, especially since I had been so sick and taking time on feeds. but because of the timing I had just missed a good part of the tide to swim in on. I had assumed I’d be much slower and be on the tide as it came back south again but I was early. So had the final battle as the tide was going north again and the coastline falls away so I knew I had to swim as hard as I could for the last couple of hours, as this is the time when loads of people don’t make it. You can see the coast very clearly but it doesn’t get closer and it was so hard physically and mentally. For 3 hours giving it everything I had only shouting up to the crew “It’s getting further away!’ between strokes which apparently was my only moan of the day – not in my head!
Finally 15 hours and 3 minutes after leaving Dover I could could stand again on French land. Paul swam in with me to the shore. I had to go between rocks to get out rather than scramble over any thankfully! I can’t quite believe it! Thanks so much to my brilliant crew of Paul, Mel, Tyler and Pete, who kept positive when things were looking bad! And to everyone who sent messages to keep me going, reading through them all in the days that followed was just amazing!!!
The support I’ve had has been over whelming and with sponsorship and pledges for the Community Pool Project currently stands at £12,800 which is incredible! Thanks to everyone who has sponsored my swim already. If you haven’t yet but would like to please visit https://www.justgiving.com/Hannah-Young-Channel-Swim/, there is also a video of the swim on Youtube, under Hannah Young Channel Swim.