When fear sets in

When fear sets in

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.

Living from feed to feed, and surviving

Living from feed to feed, and surviving

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

The Republic of Dovakia

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.

Climbing mountains and finding your view

Climbing mountains and finding your view

Standing under the white cliffs of Dover looking across to France and thinking of my swim across the English Channel in a few days, I am reminded of lines from ‘Ambition’ by the Australian poet, Russell Plunkett. My mother gave a framed copy to me some years ago.

At the extremes – cold water, warm greetings

At the extremes – cold water, warm greetings

There is a certain perverse unity that comes from cold-water swimming and my English Channel training has introduced me to many tight knit groups that love the extremes.

Vladosophy

Vladosophy

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.

So there'll be no need for any rope

So there'll be no need for any rope

My brush with suicide was fleeting. It was many years ago, and before I was diagnosed and treated for Bipolar 2.

I had been brutally and quite personally done over in a boardroom stoush the day before and hadn’t slept well reliving the experience over an over in my mind. With each replay my sense of frustration and injustice was intensified and my self worth diminished.

What happens when no one is watching?

What happens when no one is watching?

English Channel world recorder holder, Trent Grimsey (6 hrs 55 mins, 6 Sept 12) describes Brisbane’s Sutton’s Beach on his website, ‘Great one day, perfect the next’. I must have been at a different Suttons Beach the day I swam there in what was to become my defining channel training swim.

Pain barriers and other handbrakes

Pain barriers and other handbrakes

In any athletic endeavour smashing through the pain barrier is getting past the point where you think you can’t carry on. It’s about physical and mental toughness and success in managing pain comes incrementally to those who persist.

On coming out

On coming out

When you come out to your wife of 28 years and your four teenage children, the pain of leading an inauthentic life is quickly replaced with the pain of seeing people you love in turmoil for reasons not of their making.

Being pink

Being pink

In one of Sydney’s strangest rituals, on any given day and in any given weather conditions, at 7 am sharp there will be one or two hundred ocean swimmers wearing pink caps, if not pink costumes, congregating off the point at Manly beach.

We're all bananas

We're all bananas

In the family of mood disorders Bipolar 2 is the middle child, often misunderstood and struggling for its own identity.

Classically defined B2 is a psychiatric illness marked by distinct periods of extreme euphoria (hypomania), and sadness or hopelessness (depression).

Dad, I’ve left my run a bit late… again

Dad, I’ve left my run a bit late… again

Some months ago as I was dragging my sorry ass through some heavy waters somewhere preparing for the English Channel crossing almost upon me, I invoked the spirit of my late father, Bob to carry me the distance. He never let me down when he was alive, and didn’t that day either.

From the mountains to the sea

From the mountains to the sea

The story of my English Channel crossing begins in the mountains of Papa New Guinea.

There, in the spring of 2007, I walked the Kokoda Trail. The trail runs 97 km straight up and straight down the Owen Stanley Ranges and is the path of the great battle between Japanese and Australia soldiers that saw the Japanese defeated for the first time in World War 2 and Australia protected from invasion.