It was never going to be long before I would have to mention the community that is open water swimming generally and channel swimming specifically. The camaraderie in the community is unbelievable. I have numerous examples of how the Dover beach crew give up hours upon hours of their time to support people like me, who until our first trip down the M20 are completely unknown to them, but one trip to the beach and they make you feel incredibly warm (well untill they tell you to get into the water (then you feel very cold))
However the story to share with you on this blog is with regard to my trip to Chicago. 4 weeks before departing for the States, I emailed the channel swimming website group and asked if there are any swimmers in Chicago who I could swim with over the weekend. 3 replies came back – Vinnie (sorry we never actually hooked up Vinnie) another telling me to pop down to Ohio beach and see “Steve ‘The Man’ in open water swimming in Chicago” (in fact his website is www.openwaterchicago.com and then the first person to contact me was Mike (can’t pronounce or spell his surname) who offered to ‘host’ me for a swim. Mike and I corresponded a few times over the weeks, but in summary, he and his mate John (both successful channel swimmers 2009) came and picked me up from the hotel, drove me to Steve’s gaff (Mike, in fact, went out of his way to do a recce the day before) and they both chaperoned me for a swim this morning (Saturday). They were both fantastic guys and I am very grateful to them.
The swim – mill-pond conditions (or milk-pond as Christine calls them) clear blue fresh (Michigan Lake)water and a temperature circa 63-64 degrees. with the Chicago skyline to watch as we swam three miles down and back it was a beautiful morning.
Over breakfast we discussed channel swimming tactics (I wont forget the fried crisps – John – but forgive me if I don’t go for ‘SALT & pepper’) and I called Freda so that Mike and John could pass on their best wishes to her. Unfortunately Steve wasn’t able to join us for breakfast, but his welcome and hospitality was absolutely in line with the theme of this blog – Thank you Steve!
Next week I am back down in Dover for the last swim of the season, and will again pass on best wishes from Mike & John.
Thank you guys – see you again soon – I hope!