Saturday, May 2, 2009

Review of Marcia Cleveland's "Dover Solo" book

Yesterday when I got home from the WFTTC with Austin (11:00 pm) I noticed the book that I ordered last month had arrived - Dover Solo, Swimming the English Channel by Marcia Cleveland. I only discovered the site after googling "english channel swim". She swam the channel back on July 29, 1994. (Only a couple weeks before Cathi and I were married)

It was a reasonable size book and started reading a few pages thinking I just let the first few pages whet my appetite, then put it down, go take a shower after a great night of playing table tennis, and then get to bed soon so I wasn't totally groggy at my Triathlon Clinic the next day. Problem was I was "hooked" from the beginning. I got a pen and started underlining phrases that shot out like a warning:

  • "the odds of success [at swimming the English Channel] are now about 1 in 6"

  • The average time for crossing is slightly less than 13 hours

  • The most important component was acclimating to cold water. [I] can not emphasize this enough and it is one of the main keys to any successful swim.

  • In retrospect, I think I could have swum the Channel as well or better if I had gained only five to eight pounds... I did not realize my acclimation would be such a major contributing factor.

  • The intense training I did from September 1993 to July 1994 is what got me across the English Channel. (See Chapter 5 for what that training involved)

  • It amazed me to see how my body adapted to this intense cold water training (referring to an intense three week pre-channel training near Brunswick, Maine)


I could go on and on about this book. I ended up reading the entire thing from cover to cover (just over 200 pages) in about 5 hours. Needless to say I didn't get much sleep at all. I was impressed with how well written the book was. It included feelings she had involving relationships that grew during her journey as well as critical tips and lessons she learned. Because of this approach it made the book read more like a novel. I'm not a big reader, but this is the first book I've read in less than one day. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is considering starting to train for the fantastic achievement of swimming the English Channel. Definitely a must read! I'm sure I'll be re-reading and referencing this book several times over the next few years.
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