2017 English Channel swim

Friday, August 30, 2013

Results on my North Channel swim

Yesterday, I started my swim from Donaghadee, Ireland at 5:07 a.m (time zone in Ireland). My escort boat pilot was the great Quinton Nelson and his crew.  Also on board was Sheena Paterson, Vice President of the Irish Long Distance Association, and my experienced crew, my brother David and his wife Jeannie. Also, I hired an expert kayaker Conleth McCambridge. The air temp was 60 degrees F. and water temp was 59 degrees F. I found the water temp and air temp to be better than I expected. Within 5 minutes I was stung by a Lion's Mane jellyfish. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't find their sting very painful. On a scale of 1 to 10. With # 1 scale being mild pain and # 10 being excruciating pain. I gave my sting # 1. The largest jellyfish I saw had a dome the size of a dinner plate and their tentacles were about five feet in length. I saw thousands of jellyfish one foot to three feet below the surface. My crew reported only a few floating at the surface of the water. The jellyfish were actually beautiful. I saw thousands with a few very small one. I thought they were their offspring. They were awfully cute but their sting was equal to the larger ones. I was stung over every inch of my body. During my swim, I tried a lower carbohydrate diet and it worked very well. A few hours into my swim, I was startled by a large grey object below me.  Then it suddenly came toward me in great speed. It was a curious and friendly seal. We were face to face about two feet apart. I smiled at the seal and then it left. I then started with episodes of vomiting and dry heaves from the smell of diesel fumes. During these episodes, I swam the backstroke. The currents were very strong and I was pushed back a few miles off course . After swimming for 16 hours, I noticed that I was starting to develop hypothermia which was evident with my small finger cramping and my fingers were separating. I alerted my crew who are well trained in this potential crisis. After 16 hours and 43 minutes I was less than one mile from the finish line. I had no doubt that I was going to finish and claim a world record for the oldest person to successfully swim it. But then, tidal flow changed and I was being pushed backwards due to very strong currents. As a slow swimmer, it was a disadvantage. My boat pilot, channel official, and crew said that I needed to stop my swim due to outgoing current pulling me away from Scotland. At first I argued with them that I would continue swimming until the tide changed a few hours later. However, they saw that my hypothermia was worsening. But I quickly realized that they were observing me and I needed to respect their decision. It was a correct decision to stop my swim. I quickly went into the stage of moderate hypothermia. My crew was well trained in dealing with hypothermia. They quickly dried me off and placed two sets of LL Bean thermal underwear. Then applied several hot packs in my groin, armpit, and neck. Then they applied my L.L. Bean fleece jacket and gortex jacket. I was shivering beyond words. And, to think I never felt cold in the water. Again, hypothermia can set in quickly. I can't thank my crew enough for recognizing it. And naturally I felt disappointed not reaching the finish line, but that comes with the territory of marathon swimming. But I learned so much about myself...I have determination beyond words, at the age of 62 I have more endurance that I never imagined possible, and my love of open water swimming continues to grow. I would like to thank my crew for their incredible job, my boat pilot Quinton for his honesty and great piloting skills and his crew did a great job, too. Many thanks to to my kayaker Conleth McCambridge, my ILDSA official for her support, a special thank you to my family , friends, and co-workers for their support. It was greatly appreciated. Now onward to my next adventure of swimming Cook Strait in New Zealand. Thank you everyone.


Algie Graffam Jr. said...

Pat....You are unbelievable.....so much courage,determination,and spunk!So proud of you! Keep us posted on this next swim adventure in New Zealand !

pj kimball said...

What you are doing and what you have done is impressive ---
The glass is half full,

Jill said...

Aunt Patty I am so proud of you. You are the bravest woman I know and you are an inspiration to all of us! Congratulations for making it though such a difficult swim and getting so close to the finish line. Better luck in New Zealand!

Paula said...

Ditto on everything sung and said......

Melly Mel said...

What an amazing and unique adventure you had. I want to say, that as far as women from my hometown go, you and Dr. Rosalyn Randall (R.I.P.) are my hometown heroines!

Swimming with seals sounds like fun, but were you afraid sharks may be following them for a food source? I'm so sorry you got sick from diesel fumes. Throwing up and dry heaving while swimming in open water sounds harsh! Could you explain how that happened and how you dealt with it a bit more in detail in a future blogs, please? I'm amazed that the L.M. jellyfish sting only hurt at a level #1. Do you think that is because you were in the zone and very focused or because they really don't hurt much to begin with? Is there any post-swim lingering issues with their stings that you have noticed; i.e. marks on skin, swelling, or lingering pain?

Lastly, the next time I travel back home, I hope to shake your hand. It would be an honor.

Most sincerely,
Melissa Roberge
Albuquerque, NM

Anonymous said...

Congrats on a super strong effort! Hope you had a few pints after to rehydrate.
Ron in Falmouth

docshock said...

PAT, you are a heroine! So brave, so challenging. I know you are disappointed, but obviously you will be back! I hope to see you again back in Maine. I am amazed by your determination and courage. Congratulations on many hours of hard, cold, jellyfished swimming!
Ellen Shockro

Dave Cyr said...

Everyone here at OTFC were rooting for you. See you all soon
The other Dave

BC Friends said...

Dear Pat
You are just amazing. We are so proud of you and your strength and determination. Hope you are able to rest and relax.

BC Friends