The role of a marathon swimmers handler is a difficult one. They share the pain, ride the emotional roller coaster with their swimmer and then, when the job is done, selflessly step back allowing their charge to accept the glory from those who don’t know what’s gone on behind the scenes.
The advice of seasoned channel swimmers and coaches is consistent, don’t think of France, don’t look back at the white cliffs, swim from feed to feed and eventually you run out of water.
The Republic of Dovakia is a parallel universe that sits alongside the town of Dover. The former is the world of international open water swimmers, the latter a tough working class town. There’s very few that cross over.
Come the summer solstice channel swimmers and their crew start arriving in Dover. Some come to break records, others like me come to cross.
Perhaps it’s because he’s from a landlocked country, Slovakia that my coach Vlad is so passionate about open water swimming. You need passion and a big personality to get up each morning to be at the pool by 6 to coach anything between 40 – 60 surf lifesavers, tri-athletes, ironmen, and English Channel swimmers, and he has both in spades.