On Monday September 19, 2022 I had a successful swim of Bristol Channel (16 miles) following the rules of the Bristol Channel Swimming Association and the Marathon Swimmers Federation in a time of 12 hours and 55 minutes at the age of 71 years and 228 days old. Bristol Channel is known for having the second largest tidal flow in the world. It is located between Wales and England. Tides can be very fast and turbulent causing a swimmer to swim much farther. The Original Triple Crown of Marathon Swimming includes the English Channel (England to France), the North Channel (Ireland to Scotland), and Bristol Channel (Wales to England). This historic route chosen to complete the Original Triple Crown is the Porthcawl, Wales to Glenthorne, England also known as the Kevin Murphy and Ted Keenan route (both legends in the marathon swim world). There are several other swim routes from Wales to England but the Porthcawl to Glenthorne was chosen as the iconic route to earn the Triple Crown.
This swim entailed much planning and organization.....checking moon phase, tidal range, weather forecast, in addition to booking boat pilots, observer, and crew. I met with boat pilot Ceri Davies from Swansea and he said that I needed to finish my swim in 13 hours or less due to expected strong tidal flow or my swim would be stopped. Nothing like a little pressure to swim faster and pray for great conditions. There were two swimmers on that tide: Martyn Webster from Switzerland and myself. Martyn's boat pilot was Ceri Davies who navigated Martyn to a successful finish. My pilots Aston, Eliot, and Dave had a smaller craft (rib) and they charted my course. My independent observer was Tom Chapman from the Bristol Channel Swimming Association. He did an incredible job closely monitoring my swim. An observer must document many aspects of a swim for it to be ratified.....he needed to monitor/document my progress with photos/videos, take air and water temps, wind speed, stroke count, and that I followed all the rules of marathon swimming. I would highly recommend any swimmer who wants to attempt a swim across Bristol Channel to contact his association: bridgesR4wimps@gmail.com
For a pilot, I contacted the company Bristol Channel Swimming (Ceri Davies). I chose this company due to their team of experts in boating and safety. I would highly recommend them to any swimmer looking for a highly skilled pilot to help them safely cross Bristol channel. Contact information: Http://www.bristolchannelswimming.co.uk
I had booked this swim several month ago. With the untimely death of Queen Elizabeth II, many mourned the loss of this great queen. Her funeral coincided with my swim date of Monday, Sept 19. Out of respect for her, all onboard honored the two-minute moment of silence at 11:58 am. My crew Jean Murdoch-Gallant blew her whistle to let me know the start of this tribute. In addition, prior to my swim Jean wrote "Queen Elizabeth II" on my right arm. And, keeping with my tradition of having my brothers' names "Robbie and Johnny" on my left arm.
This swim was successful due to teamwork. My crew (sister-in-law Jean) monitored every moment of my swim. She did an outstanding job. She gave nourishment of Maple syrup (tapped from my trees behind my home in Maine) mixed with Poland Spring Water. My feed schedule was: first feed at two hours and every hour thereafter. Boat pilots carefully charted my course to meet the route requirements. Tom (observer) made sure that all the rules were followed. Many thanks to all of them. I set a record for the Oldest to complete the Original Triple Crown of Marathon Swimming, the first American to complete it as well as the Oldest to swim Bristol Channel (Porthcawl to Glenthorne route).
Many thanks to my husband Jim, children Sarah and Tom, and grandchildren for their ongoing love and support. Thank you to Tom Chapman for posting frequent updates to Facebook for my family to see my progress during my swim and for creating the video of my swim (posted under video section). A special thank you to Fergal Somerville and his wife Mags of Dublin, Ireland for their support after my swim. Also, thank you to Martyn Webster of Switzerland for his recommendation to swim the length of Lake Zurich (16 miles) in Switzerland next summer. Lake Zurich has been on my lengthy bucket list of swims for the past few years and it's part of the Stillwater Eight Challenge. (Above photo credit, Martyn Webster)
Also, I would like to thank the Westbrook Community Center's pool director John Smith for his dedication to the sport of swimming.