I have been in training for the past 18 months for this, my third English Channel solo crossing. Having succeeded in 2006 and 2010 I have been fortunate on both times to become the oldest woman in the world to swim the Channel.
None of this is possible without the strong support of your coach, in my case Paul Newsome from Swim Smooth, Ben Heath of Activate Physiotherapy and his team of Owen and Katie, fellow swimmers and supporters. Ben has been a great advisor and Physio working hard to get me in the best possible physical and flexible condition.
To achieve success I have committed to weekly sessions of physiotherapy and Pilates with the team at Activate Physiotherapy. As well as pool training six days a week followed by further sessions in the ocean or river all with increasing times and distances. Further cross training is conducted in twice weekly sessions in the gym under the guidance of a personal trainer
I have been very lucky as the team from Activate have taken an interest in my overall health and fitness, working with me to ensure I have the best possible chance of success. As the English Channel is regarded as the most difficult open water swim in the world it is necessary for the swimmer to be physically and mentally prepared ensuring that they are fit and strong for this test of their endurance. In fact the bottom line is that without all this hard work you can put your life at risk.
It all sounds like a rather boring life and an odd way to spend your retirement constantly having sore and tired muscles and not much of social life (I have been known to fall asleep at a friend’s dinner table and my own!) but it is a choice I have made and I would make again and again. The pleasure I take from swimming and achieving my goals makes the hard work, sacrifices and total commitment worthwhile.
I have wonderful friendships with like-minded people, take pleasure in the hard work needed to achieve success, and I don’t ever want to let my supporters down, nor any of the people who have helped me get to this fitness level, nor my skipper. There is a sense of elation when you have got to the other side – all that hard work is worth the effort, and the unbelievable knowledge that I have swum the English Channel, as an older person (endurance swimming suits older people) from a non-swimming background who has achieved one of the most difficult stretches of water in the world.
I hope that my achievements can demonstrate to all older Australians fitness and strength can lead to an active happy and healthy life.