Thursday, July 10, 2014

Swimming with Friends

I like swimming. I know - an understatement, perhaps, but I have to remind myself of that on occasion when I'm freezing cold and wanting to barf up my breakfast while plowing through my 6th or 7th hour of it. Even then, it's not like doing taxes (sorry Kris) or cleaning out a nasty sink pipe full of slime and hair. It's still a wonderful way to spend time.

What's even better is swimming with friends. This trip has been an incredible experience because of getting to meet and swim with the fantastic people I've only known through Facebook and/or international swimming news. And another awesome aspect is swimming with a friend who's shared this journey for the past several months. He's shy, or something, and prefers to swim under the radar. I understand and respect that. It's more my style to be open about the adventure but everyone has their own way of navigating an EC attempt.

Gregg and I met at Anne Cleveland's Channel Swimming Clinic in April 2013. The whole group of us keeps in touch, which means a lot to me. I've cheered on clinic teammates through their Catalina Channel, MIMS, SCAR and Red River swims. Gregg was training for the Key West swim, which he successfully completed.

I was surprised, but delighted, that he was interested in the English Channel. It's not everyone's cup of tea. But this is the ONE. The historic swim by which all others are measured. The swim that made Gertrude Ederly an international star at the young age of 19 in 1926. It's a lifetime goal and an honor to be among the few other aspirants who have attempted this challenge over the past 130 years. And the appeal for Gregg - no sharks.

So after months of hard training, sharing ideas and commiserating over tough swims, we are finally here in Dover, swimming in the harbor and setting our sights on a mutual goal - to swim from England to France.

We swam with Marcy MacDonald yesterday, cruising from wall to wall. Marcy could have easily swum 4 laps in the time it took us to do 2, but she was in coach mode - sticking with us and sharing some tips along the way.

Marcy is incredibly friendly and generous, sharing what's worked for her through her 15 successful crossings. Plus, she has a wickedly funny sense of humor. I really enjoyed our time together.

After coffee, we made our way to the White Horse Inn for lunch. This is the place where the very, very few who have successfully swum the Channel get to immortalize their accomplishment by signing their name, date and total time of their swim on the pub walls. It's one part inspiration, one part intimidation and two parts awesome.

Gregg needed to get supplies, and Paul and I are always game for a grocery store visit, so we hit up the Morrison's for provisions. Grocery shopping in a foreign country is one of my favorite things. The British have more versions of potato chips than any other people I know -- salt and vinegar, cheese and onion, shrimp and cocktail sauce, ready salted and even fish-n-chip chips. For a self-appointed potato chip aficionado, it's the jackpot.

I made a delicious tortellini soup with chicken and kale for dinner. We had mousse cups for dessert. According to the package, it's "really chocolately and wonderfully bubbly." It was a good day.

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