Well, this crazy idea all began back in January 2011 once we'd done our Channel Relay and had well and truly got the bug. Only this time we thought we'd go for a record breaking attempt - we don't do anything by halves!
'We' have called ourselves The Lovelies (no laughing) and are made up of Kathy (team captain), Paula, Becky, Rachael, Jane and Lucy and not forgetting our honorary 'Lovelies' Ian and Kevin!
There has only been one successful relay swim round the IoW and that was back in 2000 with a team made up of 4 men and 2 ladies, so when we have finished our swim we will be the first ladies team to have completed it.
The first e-mail was sent by Kathy outlining the route etc and telling us Ian would be a general dogsbody. How nice to treat your own brother so nicely!!
We got the following info from Kathy and suddenly it all became very real! She has found a pilot, an ex - marine who had offered for us to have a kayak to escort us through the needles and possible St Catherines Point - OMG this is all suddenly real and the deposit has been paid, gulp!!
January: Pilot booked, rooms booked and Paula is chief designer for our beachwear! It has been decided (by Paula) that we will wear sparkly shellsuits with sequins emblazened across them, micro skirts for the boat, baywatch babe cozzies and of course jellyfish resistant hats. As our principle designer Paula will also be sporting the obligatory lippie and nail varnish!
Our qualifying swim at Dover harbour has been set for 3rd July and it seemed like a liftime away but boy, was it looming! We arranged to meet at 7am when all of this still seemed like a pipe dream. We considered 2 x 2hr swims or a straight 4hr swim in the cold grey water at Dover where there's a different micro climate to the rest of Kent!
March: Now this was all fast becoming a reality it was time to think of a reserve just in case disaster struck! Of course our honorary Lovely Ian was considered but it probably wasn't appropriate to expect him to wear a baywatch style cozzie and pretend to be a lady (most of us try and few succeed but this was pushing it a bit too far!) Anthea came on board but is now sadly unable to join us due to work commitments.
The water is a balmy 7 degrees and the toughies are already in - Kathy, Jane and Lucy and Becky is desperately trying to learn how to wee and swim at the same time - I just can't!
Ian is named not only an honorary Lovely but also a Wetsuit Woosie after joining us for training in yep, a wetsuit! His excuse was that he has a wetsuit compulsary swim coming up....... mmmmm, not meeting the criteria for a Lovely yet!
Henry, our pilot has made contact and a few of us are concerned that there might not be room on the boat for sick buckets a plenty and bags full of ginger biscuits to quell the nausea.
May: Well, the training is well under way and our Northern Belles, Jane and Lucy are definitely the hardcore members of the team, training in wind and rain in water that is still only 9 degrees. They are sporting fleecy trousers, puffa jackets and woolly hats but of course looking gorgeous.
Henry has arranged for us to have a 6.5m RIB with us to escort us through the needles.
Us Southern softies are up to a whopping 40mins in the lake but doing good impressions of smurfs when we get out. It's a big mind over matter thing this open water swimming lark and we ARE strong enough to do this.
We're desperately trying to figure out how not to be violently sick in, out, or over the boat.... There'll certainly be no texting anyone by me!!
June: Kevin has decided that we will do a 2-1-1 swim at Dover to sort out our swimming order. A police team attempted this swim last year with eight swimmers and completed it in over 16hours but the swim was not ratified due to changing the order of swimmers. Another team also attempted it but aborted it after 60hrs.... We certainly don't want that!
I've had a serious wobble about all of this as it seems so massive but thanks to the ever supportive Kathy and Paula I've got it out of my system and I CAN do this - I'm just a wimp in cold water! I'd better find some puddles to swim in and might even start swimming to work ending up in the delightful Quaggy River in Lewisham!!
Jane has informed us of her method which I might adopt - vertical BR/S then put your chin in, then nose, then eyes andhey presto your face is in. Now to master the horizontal swimming position......
July: 3rd July was a BAD day...... The least said about it the better. Let's just say that I had to attend remedial cold water swimming classes with Rachael as we didn't do what was expected at Dover harbour - ooops!
At 10am on 31st July we embarked on Dover Harbour mark 2 and yippee we made it. A huge thanks to Paula for her hard work and training ideas for us.
We now have a complete team -
Lucy and we've all conquered Dover and have been training hard ever since.
September: Well, we were due to set off on the first set of tides between 13-15th Sept but because of some technical reason we have been pushed back to 27-30th September.
The reason was -
I have had a couple of conversations with Henry, the Pilot for the swim these past couple of days. He has been waiting for the accurate Admiralty tidal predictions to be published, which came out on the second of the month. He has spent a couple of days digesting the data contained within, and applying this to the windows for the swim. There are a couple of very pertinent issues arising from that data.
The predictions that the Admiralty publish give a percentage of the tide to be expected. All charts have tidal calculations printed on them which is an average figure, based on the hours preceeding and following high and low water. Hope you are with me so far. The admiralty percentages can be applied to these tidal rates which will give either a below or above tidal prediction. On the first set of dates, the percentage rate varies from 85% to 95%. So for example on a spring tide, the peak rate at the Needles on the chart is say 4.4knots. Apply 85% to that (worse case) and you will have a max of 3.75 knots. Now on the second window the percentage rate is in the region of 130-140% apply this to the same 4.4 knot tide and you get approx 6.1 knots ! Henry has been working the figures onto the chart to work out the advantages that each window offers, and in the case of the second window, 28miles of the swim will be done with a noticible uplift. As regards how much will be done into tide, the course Henry is plotting will make use of back eddys (local currents which run the opposite direction to the tide) so that at worst the swimmer will be going into a 0.2knot tide. it is possible that one swimmer occasionally will only progress 1mile, but the swimmers either side will make increasingly better headway assisted by the tide. the key thing to remember is a difference of 40% between the windows means that you will do a whole lot less swimming on the second and gain a whole lot more advantage, and a 40% better chance of success!!
That is an excerpt from an e mail sent by Ian, I have no idea what it means but hopefully we'll go soon!
Latest is that weather permitting we'll set off at 1am on 29th September and will travel down to Southampton on Weds 28th to our plush accommodation. We'll be armed with enough clothes to start our own camping shop, enough food to feed a small army though I have to say I won't be going anywhere near any tomato soup, or any other variety come to mention it; as it'll no doubt be fed to the fish again!!
We will of course be sporting our sequinned shell suits.........
That's it for now and I'm hoping someone more technical might be able to post some pics of us!