Wendy Trehiou’s English Channel two-way

david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
edited March 13 in Swim Reports
Though there was quite a bit of excitment about this swim in England, I think it might have passed under the radar over here, so for those of you that don’t know the details.... here is the report from Wendy herself:


My Story of my 2 Way Channel Swim

In 2006 I completed my first Channel crossing in a time of 13hrs and
36mins. I expected to take at least 18 hrs and after landing just after
midnight in the pitch black I felt it was all a bit of an anti-climax. I
also felt I could have carried on swimming so when I got back on the boat I
said “I must do this again but I think I’ll try to swim back next time”


Since 2006 it has been my dream to complete the 2 way swim, however, due to
things beyond my control I could not make it happen until this year.


After being treated for breast cancer in 2011 I was advised to complete
another 1 way Channel to ensure I was strong enough to go for the double.
So last year I completed the 1 way after just 5 ½ months training in
exactly 15 hours and that set me on my journey for the 2 way.


In the build up to my swim I trained at least 5 – 6 days a week, my longest
pool training swim was 12000 meters. I also went to Spain to do some long
sea training swims, the longest one being 11 hours. Then as the sea started
to warm up in Jersey I continued to build on my time in the water. I
trained most mornings before work for at least an hour. At the weekend I
completed longer swims, often spending between 6 and 10 hours in the sea on
Saturday and Sunday.


Then the time came to head off to Dover and I was being asked “how do feel,
are you confident?” I remember always having the same response “I have done
all I can, I have trained hard, I have put my life on hold so if this is
not enough I could not have done anymore, I must remain positive”. Was I
scared about the feat ahead, for sure; the success rate is 1 in 4 so the
odds were stacked against me. But I wanted this and I wanted it bad. I
wanted to understand how far I could push myself and how much my body could
take. Yes I know it’s stupid but then so are most endurance challenges.


So on Sunday 11 August I set off to Dover with my 6 strong crew, every one
of them selected by me and each one of them selected for different reasons.
I was extremely confident in my crew, I had a great rounded team of mixed
ages and skills and collectively I knew I had the top team and they would
keep me safe.


On Monday evening we had the call to say we would go out on Tuesday lunch
time for a look, there was a force 6 forecast for a short period of time
but my pilot and I agreed to give it a go and if the forecast did not
settle we would put it down to a training swim.


Well it was one hell of a training swim, top end of a force 5 touching 6,
my crew were thrown around on the boat, 2 came away with bruises, 3 were
sea sick and it really wasn’t very pleasant. Every time I took a breath
away from the boat I could see the mast above me and when I breathed to the
side of the boat I could not see the hull. I was most definitely better off
in the water! So after 4 ½ hours we agreed there was no way I could do a 2
way in the conditions I was battling against so we agreed to return back to
Dover and wait for a better weather window.


So back at the guesthouse we reviewed the situation and long range weather
forecast and we could see an opportunity but it was on a spring tide and I
always said I would not swim on a spring tide. Spring tides bring more
water and potentially a tougher swim and you need to be pretty fast to deal
with it. Until recently Channel swims did not take place on a spring tide!
What do I do? I had trained so hard and I did not want to train for another
year. I had several conversations with my pilot, other very experienced
swimmers and my crew and collectively we agreed to hang it out. So now it
was just the waiting game, constantly looking at the weather and trying to
remain positive.


By Friday 1 of my crew had to make their way home for other competing
priorities and on the Sunday I lost another 2 of my crew as they needed to
return to Jersey for other commitments.


Then on Monday morning, 19th August we got the call we had been waiting for
“be at the harbour for 6pm tonight we will look to get you off at 7pm”. My
crew (now 3) got everything prepared and sent me to bed for a rest. I was
going to have to start my swim through the night. I had convinced myself
this would be good as I would have a daylight landing in France and I would
get the longest stretch of darkness dealt with whilst I was still fresh.
When we arrived at the harbour the flags were blowing and I was beginning
to panic as I did not want to go out in rough condition again. My pilot
took time to check a number of different forecasts before telling me to go
home and come back at 6am the next morning. I was not in a great place, 2
false starts, was I ever going to get this job done.


Tuesday morning I get up and there is not a breathe of wind, I arrive at
the harbour and I realise that this time it is for real, there is no
turning back! I had to go through all the nerves and build up again, but
listening to Tina Turner, Simply the Best helped to get myself in the right
place. I’ve waited long enough for this, today/tomorrow is my day and I’m
having it!


We headed out of the harbour and around to Shakespeare beach. My team
greased me up and then I’m off to the beach. I clear the water, the whistle
goes and I’m off, it’s 07.12am.


The first 7 hours were tough, what on earth was I doing, what made me think
I could swim to France and back, the mind games were tough. But then I
reminded myself that I was already half way to succeeding my challenge as
that was done in training, I also told myself that I had to leave all my
doubts behind me and that for every stroke I took I was a stroke closer to
achieving my goal.


Although my first leg was my slowest ever crossing at 17 hours and 8 mins
(spring tide) I feed quickly, remained strong, consistent and very
focussed. When I landed in France I was accompanied in the water by one of
my crew (Chantelle), I cleared the water, raised my hand and got straight
back in. Chantelle was so excited, “Wend you have swum the Channel” to
which I replied “I need to keep going I’m here for the double” and I
started swimming back towards the boat where I was passed a glove and
grease to regrease for the return leg.


I was now in new territory as were my crew. I had never swum for this long
before. The return was tough, tougher than I had ever imagined. I slowed
down a lot but one of my observers said “Yes you have slowed down Wendy but
you are still very strong” The entire boat team kept telling me I was
swimming really well. The crew(Cliff Golding, Chantelle Le Guilcher and
Tasmin Powell), observers (Mick Ball and Jane Murphy), my pilot (Neil
Streeter) and his 2nd mate (Sam Jones) had now all been awake for more than
24 hours and so we all needed to try and stay alert. For me I never once
felt tired, amazing as this was my biggest concern.


The problem with this now being my 4th crossing is I was too well informed
I knew when I was in the French shipping lane, the separation zone and the
English shipping lane. So as time went on I started to ask more and more
questions. I also became more demanding and as the salt water had now taken
effect, causing my tongue and lips to swell up I became very thirsty and
was constantly asking for a drink, not a great thing as every time I
stopped we would get taken off course. The last eight hours were horrendous
the team worked so hard for me and did all they could to keep me happy and
all I did was shout and scream abuse at them when they did not do what I
had requested quick enough. In fact at one stage I asked to get out as I
was so desperate to know how much longer I had to swim for. Of course I did
not mean it, it was my request for information. I was so exhausted and I
needed to be reassured that I was not going to miss my landing as I didn’t
think I could go on for much longer. I don’t normally get cold in the sea
but about 3 hours before the end I started to shiver, I was running on
empty and I was physically exhausted, I asked for diet coke so the team
gave me hot diet coke! Yes I know it sounds disgusting but at the time it
was the best remedy.


I said earlier I wanted to understand how far I could push my body and I
certainly found out on this swim. It is the toughest thing I have ever done
in my life but after 39 hours and 9 minutes I landed at Samphire Hoe which
is where I set out for my first Channel swim in 2006. For safety I was
followed in by one of my crew (Tasmin) and then once back at the boat it
took 3 people to help me get back onboard. I was not allowed to get
dressed, I had to lie down and was covered in towels and warm articles of
clothing as the team were concerned about my blood pressure.


Back at the harbour I managed to walk off the boat on my own albeit wobbly!
I went for a shower and was then greeted by about 20 – 30 family and
friends.


It was tough, I went to hell and back and I took the boat team with me but
collectively we got me to the finish, a great team effort which I will
remember for the rest of my life.


So the stats are:-


13th lady in the world to complete a 2 way Channel swim


26th person in the world to complete a 2 way Channel swim


1st Channel Islander to complete a 2 way Channel swim


113th person to join the 24 hour club (Swims over 24 hours) and 23rd
longest ever open water swim


Yes I still have lots more swims I want to do but I will NEVER go for a 2
way again. I know my limits now, I was lucky to be successful once and I am
delighted with this result. I respect and am very grateful to the sea, my
crew, observers, pilot and his 2nd mate, my body, my family, my friends and
the many people that supported me on my journey.


Thank you everybody, stay strong, believe in your dreams and if you want it
bad enough and with the right commitment you will achieve it!





Wendyx


To date I have raised more than £11,000 for three cancer charities. You can
find out more and make a donation at:
http://www.macmillanjersey.com/sponsorship-page/show/39 — with Chantelle Le Guilcher and Tasmin Powell in Dover, England, United Kingdom.
...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
Tagged:

Comments

  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member
    What a truly amazing story! Thanks for sharing- I saw the short note about the accomplishment, but the full story is even more incredible.
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    I don't have it to hand, but someone should paste the GPS track up here - it's an almost perfect mirror of itself.
  • It's the most beautiful swim chart I've seen.

    image

  • Well done indeed!

    It would be interesting to rotate this and plot it against the interpolated tidal flow chart for the area at that time. The correlation (or lack there of) would be fascinating.

    Also, please ignore any posts under the name of "KarenT". As you know she was consumed by lampreys during her recent NYC swim and the person posting under her name is obviously a very sick individual seeking to reap the vast rewards that a swimming sociologist garners.

    -LBJ
    "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot
  • Having swum a one way in 17 hours, Wendy swims 22 hours further. Each hour increasing the duration of her previous longest ever swim. And I worry about my swim next week? I tell you this, I am in real trouble if I have to find that kind of courage, and I am only doing a one way (ish). I hope Wendy's swim pops into my head just when I need her to.
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    Very excited to hear from @Leonard_Jansen that there are vast rewards to reap from being a swimming sociologist. Mind you, my new office now has not one but two chairs, which is all very exciting.
  • bobswimsbobswims Charter Member


    On Monday evening we had the call to say we would go out on Tuesday lunch
    time for a look, there was a force 6 forecast for a short period of time
    but my pilot and I agreed to give it a go and if the forecast did not
    settle we would put it down to a training swim.


    Well it was one hell of a training swim, top end of a force 5 touching 6,
    my crew were thrown around on the boat, 2 came away with bruises, 3 were
    sea sick and it really wasn’t very pleasant. Every time I took a breath
    away from the boat I could see the mast above me and when I breathed to the
    side of the boat I could not see the hull. I was most definitely better off
    in the water! So after 4 ½ hours we agreed there was no way I could do a 2
    way in the conditions I was battling against so we agreed to return back to
    Dover and wait for a better weather window.

    I can absolutely confirm the description of the ugly conditions in the Channel that day. (Unfortunately)
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    from the Google Channel_swimmers group:

    Hello swimmers and friends worldwide,

    You will all remember Wendy Trehiou's incredible 39 hour epic two-way solo Channel swim this year. Wendy is a cancer survivor who, having endured chemo and radiotherapy with all that that entails, got the all clear to train for her second solo Channel swim in 2012. She completed that swim in 15 hours on 26th June - the first to solo swim of the year. That swim confirmed to Wendy that she wanted to try for a two-way Channel swim - a long held ambition and dream.

    Myself, Chantelle Le Guilcher and Tasmin Powell, from Jersey, were honoured to crew for Wendy on her two-way. Along with Jane Murphy and Mike Ball (solo Channel swimmer), who were the official CS&PF observers and pilot Neil Streeter and his crew, Samantha Jones (also a Channel swimmer), we witnessed a swimmer go to the very edge of endurance in the pursuit of a dream. Along the way, and especially in the last 12 hours, Wendy showed a courage and fortitude and dogged determination that humbled and inspired us all. From emails on the the Group during and after the swim it was clear that many of you were also enthralled and in awe of her achievement. Comparisons were justly made with two swims in recent years - Ros Hardiman's epic solo and Jackie Cobell's world record longest solo swim - and Wendy's achievement fast entered into Channel folklore. Afterwards, Wendy encapsulated those 39 hours with an, I'm sure to be oft to be repeated quote, "I went to hell and back - and took my crew with me!"

    Well, the reason for this post is to say that Wendy has just received a rarely gifted honour from the States of Jersey and I thought you would all like to know. To quote from the official press release, "Wendy has been awarded the Churchill Award for Courage in recognition of her outstanding achievement in completing her double English Channel swim on 20th/21st August 2013, during which she swam continuously over the 42 mile course in a time of 39 hours 9 minutes."

    The Churchill Award for Courage was established by an Act of the States of Jersey in 1965. It is granted locally for awards for acts of bravery performed by members of the uniformed services or by members of the public. 'Bravery', in the context of the award, is deemed to include acts of endurance and perseverance. To give you an idea of its importance, since its inauguration in 1965, it has only been awarded five times previously. It is worth mentioning the previous recipients:



    1966 - Denize Le Pennec for being the first Channel Islander to swim the English Channel on 8th September 1966, aged 16
    1997 - Eric Blakely for conquering Mount Everest on 23rd May 1997. (Eric is one of only a few athletes to conquer Everest and compete a solo Channel swim)
    1998 - Ian Blandin, Rob Cassin and Jon Searson for rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, October-December 1997.

    This award is decided at the very highest level in Jersey and a measure of it's importance is that Wendy will receive her award at a special ceremony hosted by the Bailiff of Jersey and attended by His Excellency The Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister.

    I say well done Wenders. An incredible honour and well deserved.

    Cliff Golding
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • Thanks for sharing the story!
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
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