Two years ago I did my first major challenge for charity. A great friend and mentor of mine had said that if I wanted to raise serious money and expected people I knew to contribute, I needed to seriously challenge myself. At the time it was a big deal for me to complete a 2km ocean swim without pausing to breast-stroke around buoys!
I decided to complete the swim from Bondi to Watsons bay in Sydney (12km), and with the support of Friends and Family managed to raise more than $11,000 for Opportunity International Australia. The money formed the basis of many small (~$200) loans to women in the Philippines who were helped to start and grow businesses. This enabled them to help themselves and their families out of abject poverty. As the loans get repaid they are recycled to other women, and so the virtuous cycle continues.
I was buoyed by the support received, and whilst many people suggested doing another challenge, I could not decide what to do. The decision was made in May 2011, after late night "bucket list" discussions with close friends.
In the second week of September 2012 I will swim across the English Channel. This is a ridiculously hard challenge, and whilst it's been a dream since childhood, the magnitude of the task is only just sinking in as I get into the detail of the preparation required and begin training. I intend to raise at least $50,000 this time around.
I have established this website to provide information about the swim and to help raise awareness of Opportunity International, the charity for which I take up this challenge. I also intend providing a bit of a diary / blog, and keep you up to date with the highs and lows of training, my diet, and the emotional roller-coaster which has begun.
The English Channel is regarded as the 'Everest' of ocean swimming. The waters between Dover (UK) and Calais (France) attract swimmers from all over the world. To date less than 1,400 solo swimmers who have completed the 34km (21 miles) swim, and nine of every ten attempts fail. I am determined not to be one of them.
I have begun to prepare for this challenge by learning how to swim better, and ultimately am going to build up to swimming between 30-50km per week. Closer to the time I will also need to gain about 10kgs of weight to help combat the 16c temperature water. My swim requires a support boat and pilot to guide me through the busiest shipping channel in the world. A wonderful team has rallied around me, and hopefully our combined efforts will result in a successful crossing.
To be 'officially' recognised as an English Channel swimmer I will swim under the rules of the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation (CS & PF). The rules require a swimmer to complete the distance without assistance and wearing only bathers and a standard swimming cap. No wet-suits or shark cages allowed. An observer from the CS & PF will be on the boat to ensure I completed the swim within the rules.