U bent hier

More free advice from Channel pilot Michael Oram

From an e-mail sent to the channel discussion group on 2009-08-28

Greasing

Firstly the "Channel Grease" formula that used to be supplied and used is
90% lanolin + 10% Vaseline -- heat gently and stir together (do not overheat, just enough to allow the two to be mixed together). Defrost setting on the microwave is one method.
You can use any % mix you want that suits your needs and trials.

When applying get a helper with latex gloves to cover the places required liberally but do not overdo it as in 16°c , or there abouts the lanolin tends to go hard and form lumps which cling to the body hairs, or are washed off.
Removal usually requires getting dressed in old clothes (including a hoody of some sorts for the neck and head) to allow the body to warm up then finding and standing in a shower with a scrapper of some sorts and a large bottle of washing up liquid. It may take 2 or 3 applications to make any inroads.
Finish with a shower gel with a strong perfumed additive.

Temperatures

Acclimatising ones self and body to the required temperature for cold water swimming is a much longer and involved setup than just starting open water training in May or whatever.
You need to consider changing your lifestyle.
Wear less clothes, do not put the heater on in the car, turn down the central heating, sleep with just a sheet, take colder showers -- the list goes on - and you have to be dedicated to do it all, plus hope your partner will understand you.

Swimming / training in less that 10°C requires research into muscle damage. Know how when you stretch, etc, etc.
I have my opinions on the subject but think you should make your own minds up about it. I'm sure there will be a lot of comment to help you along.
Personally, and to start you thinking -
Think seriously before doing hard training in less than 10°C (or even think hard about swimming in less than 10°C)

Training

Stretching before getting into cold water is not a good way to start. Stretch at the end of the period.
Allow yourself (your body) a few minutes to acclimatise before getting hectic.
Train on an empty stomach
Train using TBC (total body confusion), long boring repetitive swimming does not help the mind or prepare you for the unknown. Channel swimming is full of the unknown.
Try swimming in waves and sea conditions that you can expect on your crossing.
The word "expect" is an important one here - finding a weather gap that will last for 24 hours is hard.
We use the phrase "Good conditions for the Channel". Swimmers then just read "good conditions" and visualise calm waters.
"Expect the worst and hope for the best".
More importantly know what "the worst entails".
The Channel does not have tiles on the sea bed and we do not use lane markers. It's cold, it's busy, it's "Lumpy" -- it's the worlds top swim.
Know your enemy before you face him if you want to win the fight.
Know your limitations before you exceed then.
Try and get experiance before you commit, 6 hour swims in shelter waters give a false sense of security - if you can mange do them. Do not use them as a bench mark.
You should be doing 6 hours and longer often. Realise that they are less than half the time you need to be in the water for an average Channel Crossing.

Harbour training Dover

A thought for those of you that swim in Dover harbour.
The Admiralty pier, along the beach to the swimmers / slipway area is about 520 yards.
From the swimmers beach to the Eastern docks wall is 840 yards
That's a total of 1360 yards
A Channel swim is a minimum of 30 times this distance.
If you use the straight line route between the Admiralty Pier and the Eastern docks wall that is 1260 yards
A Channel Swim is a minimum of 30 times this distance.
It's not the hours you do: it's the distance you cover in them.
As well as working in time work in distance:
Keep a log of your training.
This is not for reminiscing in the future it is to keep reminding the body what you want it to do and how you want it to improve.
Unless you have a ring through your nose with a long rope attached don't be lead by others.
Read, listen, talk and digest - then add experiance and a bit of testing - before you make YOUR decision. We are all different.

Feeding

Introduce your feed into your training program early and get used to it.
Try different feeds.
Avoid feeds with electrolytes mixed into them.
Read up and understand the bodies water balance and electrolyte consumption. (The chat site archives and the internet are crammed with information on these subjects)
Read the labels on the feed container, understand the mixing rules and why they are there.
Water is one of the most important parts of your feeding program.
Understand calorie use by the body and it's powers of replenishment. Understand and use a "T" chart to lean how your body uses and replaces it's calories.

This year has seen more than the usual number of failures, in my opinion mostly through lack of understanding or correct preparation. Sorry if this offends and if you feel your attempt was not in the above category - but ask yourselves
"Why did it fail?"

Your were sick - why?
Was it a health problem or a feeding problem? Do you suffer from sea sickness (yes swimmers do have this problem)? Do you suffer from stress?

You were cold - why?
Lack of preparation? - not enough long swims? - not swimming constantly or with enough effort? - lack of comprehension of the challenge? - a body that suffers from the cold?

Your mind just lost it's direction - Why?
I will leave this for you to ask the questions.

Be Honest with yourself - the golden rule is you can lie to everyone or anyone else if you want but you must not lie to yourself.

Think that's enough for now.

Mike O