Later this month, I will be swimming across the English Channel as part of a relay to raise money for Aspire, an organization helping people paralyzed by spinal chord injuries. This will not be an easy swim because of the complexity of the route and environment.
Our team, Team Octopus, will be swimming in very cold water of 13C to 17C (54F - 61F). The Channel Swimming Association disallows wetsuits, any material that may add buoyancy or insulation, and, for men, nothing covering the top or reaching to the knees. Depending upon the conditions, our team will hopefully finish in about 15 hours. A boat pilot will be supporting us the whole way and constantly readjusting our course, taking into account the tide, the conditions, our speed, and Channel traffic (freighters, ferries, etc).
Our target start date -- our current slot -- is July 30 (Thursday) at 2:30am (that's Thursday early morning, not Thursday night / Friday morning). But the exact time, and date, may shift depending on conditions. A team left this morning at 7:30am. A start of 2:30am, or even 4:30am, would be ideal as the bulk of the swim, including the 'invasion' of the French coast, will take place in the light of day. As I'm the first swimmer for our team, I get to start us off at night from a beach at Dover.
The main wildlife to be encountered will be jellyfish, most of which are apparently not of the stinging variety. Hopefully not of the stinging variety and hopefully most will be no higher than several feet below the surface.
The rules of the relay are simple: a team rotation is set and each member does a one-hour swim in the water. There is no variation from the rotation and each swimmer must complete their one-hour time. I'm first on the rotation for Team Octopus, so besides my (likely pre-dawn) start, I will have at least one other time in the water, and possibly a third (that may also be in the dark). There will be a live track of the boat to monitor progress.
Please consider donating to Aspire via Team Octopus's JustGiving website. Just £1, or $1, or €1, or one of the several other currencies the website accepts will make a difference. Thank you in advance.
I'll let you know how we do, but you'll know sooner if you donate.