Our basecamp is 10 minutes out of Dover at Reach Court Farm in the 15th century village of St Margaret’s-at-Cliffe. Literally and symbolically, it’s the closest land to France.We are in the middle of wheat fields ready for harvest and the weather is superb. Four swimmers from Australia; two Englishmen, a Welshman and one born and breed Aussie in four cottages with friends and family from all over the world breezing in and out, it’s been idyllic. Then yesterday the pilots started to call and fear set in.
Cae got the first call, Ben was next and then Miles. I am the second swimmer on the same boat as Miles so I go next week. The swimmers reactions were different but sudden. All of a sudden this got real. The swimmers were given their space; their handlers made final preparations and the camp went quite and they left in the middle of the night to start their swims.
As I write this Ben and Cae have been swimming for about 11 hours. They are off the French coastline hopefully about to catch the tide change and swing back up to Cape Griz Nez where they will land to become the 109th and 110th Australians respectively to do a solo crossing of the English Channel.
This morning as I thought about my friends swimming, instead of logically taking confidence from their great progress and efforts I fell into a heap certain I could not swim that far. Fear is illogical.
My sports psychologist describes fear this way: False Expectations Assumed Real. The wind might be strong when I swim, the water might be cold, the stingers might be all over me, the tides might turn against me, but these things are not real, not yet at least. They are all assumed, and therefore they are false.
I worked this out this morning as I trained once more in Dover Harbour, this time alone and I pushed myself further than I intended just for good measure because for now that’s all that’s real.