The Dover Strait/Pas de Calais is the busiest shipping lane in the world. As the crow flies it’s a mere 22.5 miles but strong currents make some Channel swims as long as 56 miles.

Three years in the planning and training preparation have come down to one week before our swim window of July 26 to August 1 where, fingers crossed, the Crazy Canucks will don goggles and approved “swim costumes” and take turns launching ourselves into the salty drink so one of us get plant our feet in France. My pulse is racing as I type this in the mixture of excitement and trepidation that accompanies all crazy schemes like this.

Some or a lot of our swim may take place in the dark.

John, Chris, Charlie, Janet, Jaime, Elaine (me) and alternate Al are the Crazy Canucks. We arrive in Dover on Sunday and then wait for the call from our boat pilot Reg Brickell that the weather is favourable for our attempt. We head out on Reg’s boat…the Viking Princess and I take a quick swim and then clamber on a rocky shore to the high water mark on a Dover beach and with the sound of a horn we are off. Al and Chris (Janet’s husband) will help us as Reg, his brother Ray and an English Channel Observer coax us on as we take our hour turns avoiding ships, jellyfish and seasickness (good drugs and good wishes).

“We are going to need a bigger boat.”
“I cannot command winds and weather.” Horatio Nelson

Collectively we have many fears but our biggest is that we end up in England and the weather gods conspire against us and we go home without dipping a toe in the Channel. Long-term forecast is looking pretty good to me although I’m not sure what wind speeds are safe to swim in… The sea temperature is 16.7 C (62.1 F) today which is not too bad considering the 12 degrees we braved in May.

Half of the Crazy Canucks met for a training swim this morning in Lake Okanagan.

Here are some Qs and As from team members as the countdown begins…

How does this rank on your life achievement scale?

Jaime — Ironically, when I was young, I got stuck on my grey Red Cross badge as I could never complete the continuous swim. Who knew I’d ever be swimming across the English Channel? Not to take anything away from my marathons and triathlons but the swimming takes the cake. I took adult learn-to-swim lessons in my late 20s and for a long time dreaded the swim portion of my triathlons.

Janet — This would be number one on my life athletic achievement scale. I never would have thought I would be involved in anything like this — not in my wildest dreams! I have had to overcome a lot mentally to get this far but with Elaine’s and my Chris’ support I believe I am ready although the butterflies are certainly there.

It all seems better with our eyes closed.

Do you dream about it?

Charlie — Hard to dream about it when I can’t sleep worrying (freaking out) about it. Yes I am sick of swimming but I do use the time to plan mental strategies on how to get over hurdles that I anticipate. As of now, my theory is that the water is too cold for jelly fish and no matter how cold I get swimming, I know I will get colder when I get out of the water and so far, I have always warmed up eventually. Waves are just waves, roller coasters of the sea.

As scared to death as I am, I refuse to think of failing. We can do this! I committed to my sister that next year I will be normal again…, don’t anyone talk me into anymore crazy shit, ELAINE!

Charlie looking strong this morning.

Why do we humans need to do this shit?

Chris — I honestly believe that “normal” life has become too easy/boring/humdrum and we need to find something to scare the shit out of ourselves to get a rush. This ought to do it! (Editor — yup)

Chris is rocking the speedo this morning. Part of the Channel Association rules stipulate swim suits with no leg coverage.

Why do this?

John — I’ve always been fascinated by the English Channel. I’m a bit of a history buff and there’s a personal connection with Isabel’s father having landed at D-Day with the Canadian Scottish regiment. I’ll be thinking of that on our swim day. The channel was viewed as a barrier to overcome – initially, for Hitler’s plans for invading England and then subsequently the immense challenge of conducting the Allied landings at the Normandy beaches.

Chris — I have always viewed swimming the English Channel as a great challenge taken on by very dedicated, driven folks and never dreamed that I would be able to have such a unique experience. I would not have organized such an opportunity myself so I feel very fortunate to have been included in this group of Crazy Canucks.

Lucky to have Canadian lakes like Quarry in Canmore to train in.

Share your innermost fears with us.

John —  I’m a bit worried how my body will respond to the colder water. I’m not the most flexible guy and I’ve noticed that my back gets “tight” in cold water. Add that to the list of “things” !!

Elaine — I feel responsible for dreaming up this scheme and want an all’s well that ends well scenario. I hope we all have a great day out there and that one of us has the privilege of touching a French beach. I can’t even think of the possibility of trying to convince five people to have to try this again if we don’t get the call from Reg that we are good to go. It would be a bonus if we are all still friends afterwards as well.

An unusually calm swim day.
Charlie, Jaime, Al, Elaine, John
Chris, Charlie, Janet, Elaine

Some random quotes…

“Acupuncture is my friend,” Janet.

“I’m back and forth between thinking this is the coolest thing ever and wondering what the hell I’ve gotten myself into,” Jaime.

“Because it challenges us to push ourselves. Because it scares us. Because we can say WTF, let’s do it! Make it so. And so it was,” Chris.

“Are we there yet?” Elaine

“Next sport I choose will have more clothing involved and less cold…” Elaine

“I dream of octopus,” Janet

“I will be dedicating this swim to my mom and to my life buddy Chris,” Janet

“My swim is for Al and our kids,” Elaine

“Swimming for Ian and Ella,” Jaime

“I will be thinking about people who cannot do something like this. I’ll think about family members and team members,” Chris


Stay tuned for the end of our story eh?