Swimming Everest

by | 16 Aug 2015

So blog followers, with any luck you won’t have to read about the build up to my Channel swim much longer because next time I write it could be over. I say ‘could be’ because there are various variables that spectators of this sport should know. My swimming slot (known in the trade as my ‘tide’) officially opens this coming Friday (the 21st August). It lasts a week but exactly what day I go depends upon a number of factors and mainly the weather. If conditions are bad it’s possible that I won’t go next week at all. I’ll keep you posted if and when the big day comes and how you can follow my progress.

And here are some other Channel swimming facts it might be useful to know.

I won’t be wearing a wetsuit or getting out for a rest. If you want to be a certified Channel swimmer you need to follow the rules which replicate what Captain Matthew Webb faced when he became the first man to swim it in 1875 (and by the way a film has just been released about his life so if you’re interested in the history do go and see it).

Webb swam it in twenty two hours and since then the quickest swim has been just over seven hours and the longest nearly twenty nine. The average time is about fifteen. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me but as I only have one speed and that speed is slow it could be up to twenty hours.

Tankers, tides and jellyfish are three of the main hazards of any crossing. The Channel is the busiest shipping lane in the world. The tides take you all over the place so there’s no swimming in a straight line and they can add many hours to your time. And apparently jellyfish are particularly big this year. A swimming friend of mine who has just completed a six-person relay said she went through a cathedral of them. I love the description but I’m praying it’s not a cathedral, I’ll need to go in.

I have my own support boat and an amazing team of people who will be with me on the day. They’ll feed me regularly with warm liquid carbohydrate and the odd jelly baby or piece of milky way (!). I’ve promised them I’m not going to complain or ask how long I’ve got to go. We shall see.

And finally, I’m swimming for two causes close to my heart – for families who do not have the children they long for and children who do not have the families they deserve. I’m so touched by all the support and encouragement I’ve received. I’ve already raised nearly £8,000 for my two chosen charities which feels like an incredible amount for a sponsored swim.

But then this is no straightforward sponsored swim. This is the English Channel. The Everest of open water crossings. And given that two years ago I could only manage a few lengths of crawl in the pool, I’ve come a long way. Although right now I know more than anyone that there’s still the longest way to go.

Click here for my JustGiving page for Infertility Network UK.

Click here for my JustGiving page for the Lyric Hammersmith.


Dover Beach



    I am in awe. May your tide carry you along smooth and swift. Xxx

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      May it indeed and thanks again for being one of the very first people to sponsor me! Jessica x

  2. allymcleod72

    Thanks for the background info — it really puts it all in perspective! I thought of you when i swam about 50 meters (my husband would say – 5) off the Cornish coast this summer. What possessed you to consider undertaking this? Really looking forward to hearing about your experience. Best luck and best love.

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      I ask myself the same question daily but it has been the most amazing journey and I just hope this time I get a happy ending! See you soon. Jessica x

      • allymcleod72

        you are so ready for a happy ending-cum-rebirth! Wishing you a safe, worthwhile crossing. xx

  3. Bec

    Wishing you the best for the swim of your life. I am so inspired by what you are doing and how much you have raised. I look forward to hearing about it in detail. May those jellyfish and takers stay away and those tides take you in the right direction. Xx

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Thank you Bec. It certainly will be the swim of my life. I’ll let you know how you can track me on the day! It’s starting to feel very real. Jessica x

  4. Mali

    I’m not sure how I missed the fact you’re going to do this. I blame Feedly! But wow – you are amazing. Wishing you the best of luck, and hoping that the jellyfish keep well away.

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Me too – everyone says the odd jellyfish sting gives you something else to think about but I say I don’t need anything else to think about. Thanks for your best wishes, much appreciated. Jessica x

  5. Richard Stagg

    I’m so impressed! – and look forward to hearing your story. If you get cramp (in a calf, for example) do what Michael Mosley says – keep your leg straight, with heel down and foot up, i.e. stretch the muscle, for a few seconds at a time. It works better than trying to massage it. Apparently salt is supposed to help. Hang in, there!

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Thank you Richard, that is good advice! I Haven’t suffered with cramp yet but as I’ll be hitting unchartered hours in the water, I’m mentally preparing myself for anything and everything! Thanks for your good wishes and you will most definitely be hearing the story in due course! Jessica x

  6. kiftsgate

    Best of luck! I look forward to hearing all about it! x

  7. thepursuitofmotherhood

    Thanks for the plug Pamela, and the great blog post. Much love, Jessica x


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