Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Torn tendon @ rotator cuff

Had followup visit with Dr. Richards after the MRI, and sure enough.  I have a tear in one of the tendons attached to my rotator cuff.  It is about 1.5 cm, and not a complete tear so that I can't lift my arm at all, but it's significant enough to warrant surgery as we discussed before England.

So next Tuesday I discuss with the surgeon and hopefully we can get this thing going, so I can get to healing, and then back in the water!  Right now,  I'm hitting the weights (legs only), and the bike.  Upper body is getting some rest.  Looks like Slam the Dam is out for me.  But I'm definitely planning on starting up the WFPBC end of October.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

MRI of left shoulder

Left shoulder is giving me a little trouble.  Giving it some much deserved rest.  Yesterday evening I had an MRI of it at LDS Hospital.  I will see Dr. Richards on Tuesday to review the images and schedule a date for surgery.

I've already been looking into Catalina.  I've decided to go with John Pittman on the Outrider.  I've emailed him asking about the date I want to go with.  I'm aiming for mid-August 2013.  Hoping to get my surgery done in early September that way I can be back at it by Christmas.  That would mean that I'll have to pass up Slam the Dam, but that is a hit I'm willing to take.

Oh, I also made arrangements to attend the 2012 Global Open Water Swimming Conference in Long Beach on Sept 21-23rd.  I'm so excited.  So many HEROES in one place!  I can't wait!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Serpentine Swimming Club

Nick is such a cool guy!  Very welcoming host.
This morning I met Nick Adams at 7:45am at the Serpentine Swimming Club.  He introduced me to quite a few other channel swimmers.  It was amazing being in their company.  Every Saturday they have a race.  They gave Nick and I a 43:20 handicap.  So after they sent off the first old chap, we stood around and waited for our "mark" to go.

For those of you who don't know of Nick Adams is.  He is a legend! He is collecting quite a collection of his own English Channel Crossings.  He has 8 under his belt, including a two way crossing.  He's a Triple Crown swimmer, and a top notch person.  It was awesome to see him greet swimmers at the club this morning.  Alot of character and a fun person to be around. 

I wore my GoPro, but it failed to capture.  Argh!  Nick was kind enough to stay back with me.  He's a much faster swimmer.  In fact he's got nearly half the records of this club (which was formally created in 1864).  I was there to enjoy the experience and not necessarily win.  But I did go fairly hard and my shoulder held up just fine.  After the 800 M race, I did another two laps for an additional 800 M for a total of 1600 M.

Past President honored.
It was really cool to see that the club at the end of every race awards the winner with a cup and then gives a tribute to a member of the club that has passed on.  It was really cool to see.  They also gave a "Hip Hip! Hooray!" and a bouquet of flowers to one of their members that just returned this last week from her own successful English Channel crossing.

Afterwards Nick invited us to join him and other members for breakfast, but we had to get going back to the hotel to get Austin and Jacob and head out for a Thames River tour. Nick is leaving for a Gibraltar crossing with 3 others.  Sounds like a cool adventure of his own this week!

Total: 1600 M (1750 yards) in The Serpentine at Hyde Park!

I also registered for the 2012 Global Open Water Swimming Conference in Long Beach on Sept 21st!  This conference is gonna be awesome.  Amazing lineup of people who are coming to present topics.  Cannot wait!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review of Aquagear's Soft Pull Buoy

Several weeks ago Aquagear sent me a piece of equipment that I have delayed writing a review for.  I was sent a soft pull buoy.  At that point I was swimming exclusively open water and occasionally a non-equipment pool swim.  At that time I was also envisioning my feeding system for the English Channel.

I've seen feeding pole systems and rope systems.  I prefer the rope system, because when the feeding is administered the boat slows down.  However it is still moving.  With the pole system the swimmer has to expend energy to get to the end of the pole to grab the food/drink.  With the rope system he just has to be behind it, and can either swim up to it, or let it float to him.  I preferred the greater flexibility that the rope system offered.

Pull buoy as extra buoyancy and visibility for feeds.
So I took the pull buoy and respectfully dismantled it to enhance my rope based feeding system with greater visibility and buoyancy to keep the food and drink right on the surface.  Here is a picture of it on dry land.

This system worked out great!  It kept the feeds right on the surface so it was easy to see.

Here is some video that includes a couple of feeds in action.  Notice the system lends itself to quickness rather than swimming up to the end of a pole.

If you need a pull buoy, of course the buoy is great for that as well.  Don't let the low price mislead you into thinking that it's an inferior product.  It is really is soft to the touch and of course would serve it's purpose quite well as a pull buoy as it was designed.  My use of it however will continue for many years as my feeding system's buoyancy.

Thank you Aquagear!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Saying goodbye to Dover, and hello to Brighton

David and Evelyn Frantzeskou were the perfect hosts!
I would definitely recommend them to anyone desiring
to stay in Dover for a crossing.  They really cater to swimmers!
And hoist the flag up of those who succeed.
The US flag was flown all week long.  
Last night Cathi and I said our goodbyes to Evelyn and David Frantzeskou and to the cliffs of Dover.

Watching the water at night with just the stars overhead to lighten the landscape made the lights from the boats in the channel really stand out.  I felt a connection with the Channel that really made me sad to leave it.  I pondered my future and I think I'll go on the record as planning for a swim next summer to do Catalina.  Cathi's on board with that and I just need to get the ball rolling on getting my shoulder bursitis looked at and fixed before the year is over.

Slug or dog poop?  Slug!
Anyway, we took Josh back to Heathrow airport, then met my parents at the London Temple and toured the grounds.  It was a beautiful place.  We walked and I saw up ahead on the asphalt walkway a piece of dog poop.  I thought, "Who would let their dog defecate on the temple grounds!"  But then it moved!  I was like "What the!"  I looked closer, and it was a huge brown snail, without a shell.  A Slug.  There were about four more at various places on the trail.  They were weird looking!  

Then we drove to Arundel Castle and toured that and all the grounds. How beautiful that was!  Lots of walking around and looking at really old pictures, weapons, books, furniture, etc...  I was most impressed with the architecture and detailed workmanship.  Cathi most enjoyed the flower gardens.

Then we drove to Brighton beach and I got in and swam for 30 minutes while the rest of our party enjoyed an ice cream bar watching me swim.

The water felt great!  It was 68 degrees and not as clear as Dover, but the sun was shining and the breeze was blowing.  It was a great day for a swim.

Then we went out for pizza and now am about to retire for the evening.  Tomorrow:  Stonehenge and Winchester Cathedral.

Total: @1 mile in 28:34

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The first couple days after

I should be sleeping a great deal more now.  But I'm still quite a bit excited about things and how they have turned out.

Josh, Freda Streeter, and Me
Josh, Kevin Murphy (King of the Channel)
and Me
Saturday morning Josh and I got up to swim at Dover Beach where every Saturday large groups of swimmers meet.  We met Freda Streeter, and Kevin Murphy also was there.  I saw Kevin very briefly before I met Paul on Thursday afternoon, but he couldn't talk, he was already very late as an acting observer for another pilot.

So on Saturday morning we talked further.  Then Josh and I got back in for another mile swim out to the eastern pier and back.  My shoulders were fine, it was my lats that were sore.  Wow!  Felt good to stretch them out.

Afterwards we went to Dover Castle and also the underground tunnels.  I could have spent an entire separate day there.  That place was awesome!!  I was so tired from walking all over, but now I wish I could go back!  So many neat things in history that I learned and saw!

On the way back to Folkestone, we stopped at The White Horse.  This is a very small pub that by tradition is the place where successful Channel Swimmers sign their names on the wall with their times.  I was overcome as I walked in and saw the hundreds of names up on the wall, ceiling, archways, etc..  It was humbling to be a part of it.  I was now the newest member of this extremely rare group.  I got lots of suggestions from Cathi and my Mom on where I should make my mark.  I found just the place and quickly pondered what I would write.  I absolutely needed to mention the Great Salt Lake in it.  So here's what I wrote.

This morning Josh, Cathi and I drove really early to London to attend church at the Hyde Park ward.  Then we walked a couple miles east to watch the Men's Marathon.  It was so crowded, but we expected that.  It was cool to be a part of the Olympic action.  We saw Ryan Hall, but he was a way behind the front pack.  Probably near the middle of the field.  After watching them pass twice in the loop we drove home.

When we got back, we discussed plans for the coming week.  Tomorrow we'll do more exploring of Dover instead of going out to France.  I have yet to get souvenirs from Dover and really want at least a T-shirt.

Tonight after the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics, KSL will air their short video clip of the swim.  The perspective Alan was able to achieve with his Go Pro was completely original.  I was very impressed with the pics he took!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

English Channel Swim

I'm not really tired after getting back. It's 5:23 am right now and got back about an hour ago.  Been reading everyone's thoughtful comments.  Thank you!!!

So it's official 11:30 was the time.  Way faster than I had ever hoped for.  

Paul Foreman gives us some instruction
Paul Foreman was my boat pilot,  Ray Weatherall was his first mate, and Sam Weatherall (Ray's son), the CS&PF Observer.  After a brief explanation of some boat rules Paul gave me a warning,  "When you take a feed get it in your mouth and get back to swimmin'!  The best swimmers take the bottle roll over on their back take the feed while they do one stroke on their back and then rotate back over and throw out what they didn't get in during that time.  But 20  second feeds are fine, but not much more than that.  Also if you're hurtin' don't whine about it."  He said something like "Most guys get to hurtin' and then they whine "Oh my shoulder", or "My back hurts".  Women swimmers are the best, they don't complain."  

That really got me fired up.  I've seen a lot of Channel crossing videos and one thing I take great caution to avoid is whining.  So my goal wasn't to say a single word of complaint on my entire swim, and hoped he would notice.  I said farewell to my son Austin, and my Mom and Dad, who were going back to Varne Ridge to man the computer.  The plan was to have the crew call them every hour or so and update the blog. There was a a problem with making outgoing calls and Mom was getting frustrated and finally called the boat, which worked out and was the standard from that point on.

Paul had us board the boat and then took us out of the Marina to the starting point, only about a 25 minute boat ride.  I got all greased up and ready to go.  On the way, my CS&PF Observer, named Sam Weatherall got some information and reviewed the simple rules of the swim:  No touching anyone, or the boat.  Start on dry land, and end on dry land.  Sam's father, Ray, was Paul's first mate.

When we got to the beach, Paul told me to swim over, get completely clear of the water and when I was ready, raise my hand and they would acknowledge that I was going to start and set the clock.  I took a moment to thank Heavenly Father for preparing me for this moment and providing this opportunity which has been a dream of mine for a long time.  I then motioned to the crew I was about to start and they flagged me into the water to start.  This was just before 3pm.

The water was flat as a lake the first two hours so I took advantage of it and really pushed it.  Once we got out that far, we started to enter the English shipping lane and from there it started to get choppy and some pretty good swells, but I was feeling good still so I continued at that pace.  

Josh got in after a while and swam side by side with me.  His purpose in pace swimming is to encourage me to swim faster by swimming side by side with me.  If he pulls ahead that makes realize I'm slowing down a little and makes me pick up the stroke rate to keep up.  He's only allowed in the water for an hour, which is good, because he really pushes me and after he gets out I can slow my pace down just a tad.  

I had heard about Jellyfish in the channel, and had seen a bunch in Catalina Channel, and stung once in Catalina.  But I was disappointed a little to not even see any jellyfish.  I did hit a couple of very small patches of seaweed on the surface, but it was only about 5 seconds of fun.  I did see about a dozen time throughout the swim what appeared to be pieces of paper.  One even was a completely intact 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper just floating about 8 feet below the surface.

What went through my mind?  Music - No (I wish I had that ability), Thinking of people occasionally.  But mostly my mind was like a machine:  Stroke, Stroke, Stroke, breath..... I wasn't bored with it.  Just the rhythm of the stroke and the feel of the water on my body and feeling triumphant that I was actually doing this.

I was looking forward to the sun setting, because that meant I would have been in the water for @ 6 hours and that would be fairly close to half way.  And when it finally set and the sky started to get dark I noticed that all the lights on the ship were on.  I continued to swim, and was planning to crack my chemical light that was dangling behind me attached to my suit.  It was starting to really get dark and I didn't want to wait for the next feed to make myself more visible to the crew so in between one stroke I quickly reached back with both hands and cracked the light.  That quick motion and the reaching back behind me that far caused a really sharp pain in my right shoulder.  I freaked out.  I said to myself, "What have you done!"  I kept swimming and the sharp pain subsided until it was completely gone within a minute.  Wow!  I really got lucky on that.  That could have been a deal breaker.  

What did I eat?  I stopped every 35 minutes and had one of the following liquids:  Orange/Vanilla Perpetuem & juice mix which I instructed Cathi how to prepare.  Defizzed Coca-Cola, Hot Chocolate.
Solid foods I had every other break (1:10) and had either a banana, Swiss Roll, Cereal bar (which I yelled back at the crew to stop providing because they took too long to chew and swallow.)  Had one Buzz Bite at half way.  And the crew put diced peaches/pears in my perpetuem drink as well.  The key was to keep the "feeds" to less than a minute.  Many of them I kept to less than 30 seconds.

I was surprised when I saw Josh get back in his wetsuit for another round of pace swimming.  At this point it was dark and I was worried I wouldn't see him and might run into him.  Originally he was swimming between me and the boat, that way I wouldn't get sandwiched.  But I found that I really preferred to be right up next to the boat because there was a bright light just outside Paul's observation window.  This light was acting as a marker for me to keep up with.  Up to this point my pace was really feeling strong, I was getting lots of kicking in, and I felt strong and fast.  I had only taken 100 mg of ibuprofen just before Josh got in because I was starting to feel a little stiffness in my left shoulder.   But within 30 minutes it was all gone and I was holding steady.

After Josh got out I kept on going and at some point during a feed Cathi tried telling me something.  With my ear plugs I couldn't hear, so I yelled out "Speak up!!!"  She jumped.  She yelled back, "The Pilot says that you've been going 8 hours and at this pace only have 3 more to go.  I nodded.  That did give me quite a boost of what to expect and motivated me to keep it up.  I found out after the swim that Paul scolded her, that the information was for the crew only and not for me.  Because the tide could have changed after that, and might have been a real downer for me.  But fortunately the tide only changed in my favor and I was continuing the strong pace despite the minor chop and swells from the very large freighter ships that I could see pass in front of us.

During the night time portion of the swim, I continued to let my mind relax.  Even though I kept my pace up and going strong, I felt my mind go into a trance-like state.  Even closing my eyes every once in a while.  I wasn't tired, but very relaxed, in an Alpha brainwave state.  

I noticed while breathing to my right that I could see the Cap Gris Nez lighthouse flashing at my 2 oclock.  Within an hour or so, it was at my twelve.  Cathi yelled out, only about a mile to go!  I responded, "Just one Gridley Straight!"  At this point I must admit that I slowed down.  I figured I was well ahead of schedule and the tide had still several hours in my favor.  This was a mistake.  I had slowed down and rather enjoyed it.  That made it hard once I got close to the cap, because we had missed hitting it head on and were now just barely west of it (with the south westerly current).

I could feel that I was getting close to the Cap, because I could see its silhouette, and the light house was at my 11oclock.  I spent the next 45 minutes or so trying to keep up with the boat, as we continued heading south instead of directly facing the lighthouse.  Soon the lighthouse was nearly at my 9 oclock.  I was swimming along when I felt something very large, smooth and rubbery, slide past my left thigh and along my leg down to my ankle.  I wasn't expecting that at all and nearly jumped out of the water.  I rationalized that it must have been a seal.  It was too large to be a fish, and I'm not familiar with what marine life hang out at the cap, but I figured it had to have been a seal.

Finally Paul stopped the boat just as we were at the base of the lighthouse on the western side of Cap Gris Nez, and handed me a couple of ziplock bags for collecting rocks in France.  He told me that they would shine a high beam light on shore and I was told to sprint to get there.  If I took it easy I would risk getting pulled backwards out to sea.  So I put it in high gear and swam as fast as I could after swimming for well over 11 hours.  I finally got close to shore and noticed a huge rock just 3 feet ahead.  I then did breaststroke to it, went around it, and found many large rocks just below the surface.  I got scratched up pretty good, so instead of swimming, I started to crawl over these so I wouldn't get all bloody.  They were covered in barnacles and the waves were pushing me into shore at this point.  So I had to very slowly balance and crouch down to avoid getting pushed face first into all these huge sharp rocks.  

Actual Route
I climbed over enough of these rocks that I finally came to a rock that was the last one and was completely clear of the water.  I turned around raised my hands above my head with the high beam light shining right at me.  I heard the entire crew cheer and Cathi sounded the siren.
Click here for CS&PF website which tracked my swim.

On my way back I stopped in the water and collected several rocks in the baggie and stuffed them in my suit.  

I had finally swam the English Channel!  Leading up to this point I envisioned it many many times in my head and started to get teary eyed.  But now that I was here, I was very happy, but not completely overcome with emotion.  This surprised me.

The hardest part of the entire swim?  Peeing.  Sure I trained hundreds of miles in open water with feeds, but once I got about half way, had to pee just about ever 40 minutes or so.  What's so tough about it?  Starting.  Even though I really had to go, just starting the process while you're kicking and moving your arms, with the water fairly cool, it isn't as simple as one would think.  I took advantage of the times for feeds to get the process started.  
Did I get cold?  No.  The water was very comfortable, and at no point during the swim did I think, "Boy this is cold".  It was the ideal temperature.  The crew told me that it ranged 62- 64°f.  A little warmer than I expected.  It was very nice.

Me eating my stupid chicken nuggets
I swam back to the boat and climbed up the ladder to the warm embrace of my biggest supporter, Cathi.  She asked me if that was the hardest swim I have ever done.  I actually pondered that the last few minutes nearing the finish.  To be completely honest, my qualifying swim was tougher.  My qualifying swim was much colder and just as long.  Also Bear Lake Length was tougher because of the really bad weather near the end of that swim.  But this definitely takes third.

Alan Neves, the photographer from KSL said, "You just swam the English Channel!  How do you feel?"  I said,  "Great!  (awkward pause) I'd like some chicken nuggets."  That dumb little phrase would come to haunt me for quite some time and will probably be an inside joke for quite a while.

Cathi and I really enjoyed snuggling under the blanket on the 1 1/2 hour boat ride back to Dover.  Within a few minutes, she was asleep and I just looked at her face.  I sure married up.  The biggest highlights of my swim were when I would breath to my right, and see her sitting right there looking at me with a very attractive smile on her face.  I could feel how proud she was of me and that only motivated me to keep going strong when I saw that.

Huge thanks to Josh Green for making the trip out here with me.  His pace was strong and that really got me in a groove.  I don't know if I could have maintained that pace without some additional motivation like that.  Josh told me after I got out that 3 other swimmers swam today with other pilots.  And that they got out at @10 miles.  That's got to be just so sad for the swimmers.  That was one of my biggest fears is to not be able to finish. 

Jacob was fantastic helping with preparing feeds and writing smart alec comments on the white board to lighten the mood.  He has been such a huge support.  He was my paddler for the 21 mile qualifier in the GSL, also for the 19 mile Bear Lake length, for 10 mile Deer Creek, and this.  He's got quite a bit of experience as a support paddler, and was a huge asset to my team.  A couple days before Eveyln Franceskou at Varne Ridge told me not to take him on the boat, and that really bothered me.  Jacob's not your typical 12 year old.  He's extremely tough, athletic and full of energy.  He did just fine, and wasn't sick at all.  I'm not sure how much of that was because I put a patch behind his ear a couple days before.  But he was just fine.

Paul and I back at Dover Marina after the swim.
Again big thanks to Paul Foreman for providing such excellent piloting and getting me to France safely.  He did a fantastic job and would highly recommend him to any Channel aspirant!

Finally, thank you to all my dear friends, neighbors, coworkers and family for all the wonderful comments and show of support.  It really means a great deal.  

Alan Neves, a photographer from KSL was on the boat and took lots of video.  He told me the video segment would air on the 10 oclock news right after the Olympic closing ceremonies.
The awesome video he came up with can be seen here:

Here's my own slideshow video:

Pics and Video can be found in my English Channel Album.

Update:  Ratification of my swim including all the observer's notes, log and official certificate found on this post.

It's Official

I talked to Gordon on the phone.    He completed the swim in 11 hours 30 minutes.    He said the Great Salt Lake was the best training ground ever!      

He thanks everyone for their encouragement and prayers.     They are already about 1/3 of the way back to Dover.     He will  probably be back here within 1 to 1 1/2 hours.    I'm sure he will be euphoric and be eager to read everyone's posts.       Roger and I have loved reading all your posts--so I can only imagine how much it will mean to Gordon.

Thanks again.
Love, Marcia

Update: 2 AM (Friday)

Per Cathi on cell phone:
He is still going strong.     They can see the land clearly (silhouette--since dark).    He is about 1 mile away.   She will call  me when he finishes!    Everyone on the boat is very excited.

We are excited with all your posts and fun comments!  

Update: 1 AM (Friday) England Time

Via phone call from Cathi:
Capt. told Gordon if he keeps going as is he could be done in an he is really pouring it on.   He is doing about 70 strokes a minute.    At the last feeding he passed up some  chicken nuggets and only wants liquids for the rest of the time.

Skies are clear--starry.   Water is calm.    This is better than ever!  

If you look at the map it appears he could possibly miss the cape point.    We mentioned this to Cathi and she said they are aware of this BUT the capt. is expecting the tide to shift any minute and that will automatically move him eastward without him having to expend extra energy.    

I will call back to Cathi in about 30 minutes to see if they have yet noticed any change in the tide.  

Keep on!    Marcia.

Update as of 11:50 PM (england)

Just finished talking to Cathi again.
Water temp:  64 degrees.   Small waves.    Pitch dark.    
He is swimming at the pace he started at--predicted to finish in another 3 hours---IF he makes Cape GreisNez (spelling?)   If he misses that it could add another two hours to the time.    He is pushing to make the cape.

Austin Gridley brings you the weather....
Well it looks to be perfectly non foggy, the waters a bit choppy.. but that's not stopping him. He's getting out of the shipping lane, and it's looking quite peachy :)
Well love, we'll wrap up this weather report, I'm Austin Gridley
Signin out

update from Cathi: 10:15 PM

Gordon was told by the pilot boat captain--keep your feeds short - professionals literally do their feeds on the go...throwing in the food with the arm stroke. Every feed puts you behind and makes it so the tide is against you rather than in your favor.    Cathi said his feeds are about 39 seconds!     Wow. . . that is super.

Gord told Cathi that on a scale of 1 to 10...he feels like a 10!     From that we are assuming his attitude and stamina are top-notch.  The boat has a spot light on him plus he has a glow stick in the goggle elastic and one around his waist.   Josh just finished an hour swim with him.

Cathi told me that on the beach at Dover before he began his swim, he knelt and offered a prayer.   We acknowledge that his prayer is being answered.

Thanks, again, for everyone's support.   Oh, I asked her what the name of the boat is:  Pace Arrow;  Captain:  Paul    He has 7 more miles to go.    Has been in the French Shipping Lane for the past few miles.
Post any other questions and I'll call them to find the answer.


Hallelujah--received call from the crew

9:20 PM (England)

I finally got through to the crew on the pilot boat....apparently, they couldn't call out.    We have finally made connections anyway.

Gordon is about 1 1/2 hours ahead of schedule.    Josh Green is in the water swimming with him.     That can happen every 3 hours. . .but Josh must not get ahead of him. . . rules from the Channel HQ.   He is in the dark now and so has a glow stick stuck in his goggle elastic and in his watchband.    
No one on the boat is seasick. . . ocean is pretty calm. . . small waves.    I'll call them about every 30-45 minutes.      Report what I learn.

Roger and I read through the posts and are so grateful for the many friends and associates that offer Gordon their encouragement.   We have forwarded this news to the crew:    There are many people cheering him on. Thank you for your support.

PS:  My daughter, Elayna, asked if we were going to stay up throughout the night.   A "given" since how could we sleep????   I've had 32 grandchildren - awaited many a delivery.    This, however, tops the anticipation of a baby's arrival.

Laters,  Marcia.

No verbal updates GRRR

I was able to call once time--he began officially at 3 PM.    This was about 3:30 when my call went through. Since then I have not been able to have my phone get through to the crew. . . at first I figured it was because they were busy.    They KNOW I wanted to hear at the minimum of hourly. . . so I'm giving them the benefit that the phone service is out for some reason or another.      So, I'm with everyone else--merely watching the "Track Gordon Now".   It looks like he is doing super super good!  I get choked up just typing this.

I talked to two swimmers staying here in the RV park with us.    They did the swim last evening--exactly 24 hours earlier.    They were less than 100 meters from France's beach!   It was about 4 AM BUT the fog was so very thick one could not even see to the length of the boat.    How they knew they were that close to France is not clear to me--perhaps some "sonar" on the pilot boat?      Anyway, the pilot captain could not permit them to swim further because the swimmers were basically out of total sight--wouldn't risk losing the swimmers.    IT WAS CALLED OFF!  When we learned all this from one of the swimmers--it was a sobering conversation, indeed. To be so very close to a goal and have to leave it behind was very hard for these swimmers.    We are all praying that weather conditions continue to be in Gordon's favor. . . as I'm sure you all are as well.  

It is dusk now.    The weather today was absolutely gorgeous.      Sunny and warm.     Couldn't have been blessed with better conditions.    Gordon will now be finishing the rest of the swim in the dark.    He knew this once the time was set. . . didn't phase him in the slightest.    He is TOTALLY DEDICATED.

If...if...if  we receive any phone calls I will post something immediately.     I'm thrilled at how many good friends and family are cheering him on and joining the team.

Love, Marcia.

Swimmer Away!

We waved goodbye to Gordon and his small crew (Cathi, Jacob, and Josh Green) about 30 minutes ago.   Gordon had been in communication with a guy from KSL who is here covering the Olympics.    His name is Allen.  Ended up that he also is on the boat--filming things.    He and Gordon arrived about 30 minutes early and Allen did an interview - filming it.   I chuckled since Gordon is typically brief with verbal responses.   I'm eager to see how it comes across on the television.  Cathi asked when it would appear on TV and Allen said probably sometime this coming Saturday or  Sunday.    He said it would also be on since non of us would be back in Utah then to view it on TV.    I'm hoping someone from Gord's family will record it for us all to  watch.

Cathi surprised us all with bright green T-shirts which on the front read: "One man - the English Channel - 22 Mile Swim - 62 degree water - August 2012 - BRING IT!"  On the back we read:  "Team Gridley".

The captain - Paul - gave the crew a brief introduction of what he expects, etc. and off they went.  I had a tear in my eye seeing Gordon sail off to accomplish a goal he has trained for the past three years!   His goal is to complete the swim in under 14 hours.   Cathi will call me when he "officially" begins the swim.  Right now the pilot boat is driving him to the official beach area from which he begins.   Beginning time should be about 3:45 PM Thursday (English Time) which is 8:45 AM Thursday (Utah Time)  That said-he hopes to finish up about 5:00 AM Friday (England) or 10:00 PM Thursday (Utah).

I will post frequent updates--probably more than you all really want. . . just read or skim my words as you would like.   Marcia

PS:  Don't forget you can watch a "Track  Gordon Now" because of the GPS Josh Green will have on the pilot boat.    Gordon told me there is a link on his blogspot.    

The fog is clearing

Just like yesterday morning, it's really foggy.  But it cleared by 10am yesterday and I expect the same today. This journey for me has felt like a very long time.  I've had so much support along the way by my family and I just wanted to thank them this morning.

It takes a lot of training to prepare for this, and that takes time.  And that is a sacrifice on their part.  I've made a lot of new friends along the way and what a blessing!  I'm so very grateful for the ride, no matter what happens!

For my Utah friends,  keep an eye on Channel 5.  Alan Neves, a photographer from KSL is going to join us on the boat taking video.  That should be fun, now my big butt is gonna even make a broader appearance for public display.  Gords in a speedo is not something you wanna see on TV just as you wake up.  You might get morning sickness without expecting.

Huge thanks to all you friends for your support and prayers during my swim which starts in about 6 hours from now.

Signing off... and handing over the mic to my Mom, Marcia...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Day Before

This morning after breakfast, Cathi got up and ran to Dover from Folkestone.  We gave her a 30 minute headstart, and then the whole crew drove down there, where Josh and I did one lap in Dover Harbor.  It was really foggy on the way there, but then it cleared out.  It has been raining off and on all day.

We went back to the store for more last minute preparations for feeds.  Cathi has been busy all afternoon preparing the feeds into bags so that she is totally organized and aware of where things are.

The first group of swimmers were originally supposed to go at 3am this morning, but the pilot cancelled until 2pm today, thanks to rainy weather.

I just talked to my pilot and I'm meeting him at the docks in Dover Marina at 2pm (7am Utah time).  So there you have it:  2pm meeting, @3:30pm start time.  Keep an eye on this map for when we start.

Foggy Day

This is Gordon's Mom, Marcia, writing the post.  It is my "trial run" since I will be the one receiving telephone reports from Cathi who is on the pilot boat.   I will be then relaying updates via this blogsite.

This morning we woke up to a very foggy day.    Visibility is about 50 yards max.     We still have no firm date or time yet BUT it tentatively set for Thursday AM.  

Gordon and Cathi are now planning what she will throw out to him for every feed.   Typical feed alternates from liquid protein drink ONLY to liquid plus food.  Food varieties include:  Little Debbie Swiss cake roll, 3 chicken nuggets, cereal bar.    During the night, she will send out a hot chocolate a couple of times.

We will definitely update you all once we know a firm departure date.

Cheers!   MG

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

More pics and fun

Going for a swim with these "locals".  At least compared to
Utah.  These Irish swimmers said the water felt like
"bath water".  People after my own heart.  
Just enjoying the breezy Dover weather.  Made a few friends here who are going tomorrow, including Paul's #2 swimmer.  I see that there are very sunny days ahead.

Josh and my parents arrive here in just a few minutes.  I have a nice meal awaiting them.  I will be doing another training swim in the morning and this time I'll have my bud Josh with me.  Then I'll call Paul tomorrow evening to make arrangements.  Still watching the forecast very closely.  Friday and Saturday look very good as well, so there are lots of options.

This morning I got this voicemail from on behalf of my friend, Aaron Wright. Had me and Cathi in stitches hearing this.
I sure have the best friends in the world. Everyone is so supportive! Love it.

Dover Harbour Swim

This morning I went out and looked across the Channel.  Cathi and I met an Irish swimmer, Colin who is scheduled to swim early tomorrow morning.  We looked out and saw France from Varne Ridge.  It was beautiful. I counted 9 freighters out there in the channel.  It was a total dream.

You can see France if the conditions are just right from
Varne-Ridge.  Beautiful morning! 
After breakfast I met up with the group of swimmers here at Varne-Ridge and we drove down to Dover Habour for a swim.

The water was relatively flat with only a slight breeze.  As we waded in I was very surprised how warm it was.  I took a temp on my way back with my watch and it read 64f.  After the first lap (35 minutes), I went for another.

The salt taste here is "smooth" compared
to GSL.  
Cathi was on the rocky beach chatting with lots of people and being Cathi.  I loved it.  I sure married up.

Capt Webb Memorial
overlooking Dover Harbor
where many channel swimmers
When I got out I got dressed and we walked around Dover for a bit.  We saw the memorial to Capt. Webb.  Cathi wanted to go for a run so I took the boys back and am going to go out to pick her up again.

Having a great time!  It is like a dream being here.  I've envisioned this moment for a long time and it is fulfilling all my expectations.

Weather looks fairly good for Thursday.

Total: @ 2 miles in 1:10

Monday, August 6, 2012

First day in England

We arrived in London at noon and it took us quite a while to get to the car rental place, and get out of there. I was quite nervous about driving on the left side since the last time I did that (more than 10 years ago when we went to Australia).  But made it to Folkestone, which is the next small town west of Dover.  We checked in, got unpacked, went shopping for groceries, and much needed feeding supplies.  We came back and I prepared dinner while Cathi went on a run.  Austin was out like a light.  Needless to say the flight to London was not filled with slumber.  I did get some Zzzzs, but definitely not a normal amount.

I met Evelyn and David Frantzeskou who own Varne-Ridge.  They showed me all the supplies they have to assist in case I forgot anything.  They were awesome.  I also met a few other swimmers who are swimming this week.

I got an email from Paul asking if I wanted to go on Wednesday.  I looked at the weather and it looked like Thursday was a better forecasted day according to both accuweather as well as weather channel.  Apparently I am in the first position, because he said that if I passed it up he'd ask the second position swimmer about Wednesday.  So waiting an entire year to get a 2nd position, has suddenly morphed into a first position.  I'll take it.  I don't want to just go when its even iffy.  I spent too much time in training, and in planning for this thing, to chance having things go south.  It's happened before and to much more capable swimmers than myself.

I will be going down to the beach tomorrow morning with the swimmers that are here at Varne Ridge and doing a short training swim there.

So for now, I will for sure not be swimming any earlier than Thursday.  Stay tuned for updates....

Friday, August 3, 2012

The final swim (before EC)

This afternoon after work I went up to Steiner for my last swim there before leaving for England.  I just did an easy 5000M swim.  Straight through, no strain, no hard pulling, just nice and easy 50 laps in the outdoor LCM pool.

Did the 5000M in 1:25:48.  My shoulder felt fine.  Kept envisioning what it's gonna be like next week.  I'm so ready for this!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Return of the Bursitis

After Monday's swim on the way home I called Dr. Richards office.  While my shoulder wasn't throbbing and the pain was a 2 on the pain scale, I thought I really should go in for a consultation and perhaps another ultrasound.

When I got there yesterday afternoon, we talked and I was honest about the level of discomfort, and when it started happening.  He said, "Let's do another ultrasound and see what the status is".  He started into it and he pointed out new "large" calcium deposits.  The calcific bursitis has returned, and larger than it was last year.  He said the bursa fluid is severely inflamed and has burst and spread into the shoulder and pretty much things looked crappy in there.

He said, that given the circumstances where my big swim is next week, and the fact that I wasn't in terrible pain already, he suggested I get another cortisone to tide me over for the next few weeks, but that when I get back that I schedule an MRI, and if I wanted to continue serious marathon swimming (especially the wear and tear from extensive training), that I would need to have surgery to remove the bursa and the calcium.  He said that isn't major surgery, but that it would requires several months off to heal and undergo physical therapy.   Dr. Richards told me that he felt that the issue is chronic due to my extensive training, and that the channel swim although long, wouldn't make things dramatically worse than they already are.

I'm trying not to think that far in the future, and I don't want to make any big decisions, but it does have my wheels turning in my head about my long term goals after the EC.  In conjunction with my role as a parent and husband, this whole marathon swimming thing, is really taking a toll on my life and body. But as for the next week, I'm confident that the shoulder won't be an issue at all.

I was hesitant to go see Dr. Richards in the first place, but the thought of dealing with major shoulder pain in the middle of the channel worried me.  So I'm glad I went.   It's a little tender with the shot, so I won't swim today, but I'll plan a 4000M swim at Steiner tomorrow afternoon, and then another short swim on Saturday morning.  Then I'm off to England on Sunday!