Finding and Choosing a English Channel Booking/Offer

WaterloggedWaterlogged United StatesMember
edited November 2019 in Beginner Questions

I am looking for thoughts on taking a mid-late June EC slot for a solo crossing- that time of year seems better suited to relays than solos. I have two offers of slots for neap tide swims June 14-23 (2021). I would rather swim in July or August, even September (but July and August are best professionally). I don't want to wait 3 years to swim (ulterior motive is not impatience but my dad and my biggest fan being around to see this goal I have had since I was 17 and we couldn't pull it off- it has been 32 years in the making).

Options now are: 1) Slot 2 in June 2021; 2) Call back mid-December for 2020 dropouts (I'll do this, but could still end up with a June slot); 3) I put myself on the reserve list for 1 pilot that offered this as an option.; or, 4) Wait for a July or August 2022 slot and be ok with that.

We could be talking about a potential 5-degree swing down for temps in June vs. Aug/Sept, but there aren't any July/August slots at all for the next two years. Though I took a break after my open water season ended in Oct., getting the yardage in (barring injury) is not an issue.

Thoughts?

Comments

  • abbygirlroseabbygirlrose Chicago, IL (Los Angeles, CA)Member

    One factor that I would certainly take into account if I were making this decision is access to training in open water.

    For example: When I used to live in southern CA, I could swim in reasonably cool open water year round and would be more likely to take a June spot because I would feel I could train for an early season swim. I now live in Chicago and do not have access to training time in Lake Michigan November through May (due to the water being too cold). In my current situation, I would be more hesitant to commit to being "Channel ready" by June.

    This may or may not apply to you and where you live but might be worth considering.

  • @Waterlogged I think this is a really personal question. Do you need those extra five degrees? If the temperature is make-it or break-it, then stick with the later slots. If the temperature doesn't phase you, then go for it!

    Another thing to consider is that there are usually some spots that become available later on in the year from swimmers backing out. I don't have personal experience with this, but I see the messages all the time. If you don't mind a little bit of extra uncertainty, you could keep your eyes open for these too.

  • WaterloggedWaterlogged United StatesMember

    @abbygirlrose and @thelittlemerwookie
    I do have access to open water, but certainly not 59/60-degree temps. and I know ultimately I have to decide what to do (banking on backouts at this point- probably even for 2021 unless I commit monetarily to a June slot).

    Maybe the real questions I should be asking are:
    1) How long is a general guide for water temp acclimatization- It doesn't have to relate specifically to the EC. I have heard the effects of cold water acclimatization can last 7-12 months, but I haven't seen that evidence.

    2) Are workarounds, cold water immersion or therapy pool swimming really good substitutes to open water cold water swims, if you are putting the pool yardage in of course?

    3) Is it even reasonable to pin my hopes on backouts? Does anyone know what the odds are on that? I think I might be doing that at my peril and missing putting a deposit down on a guaranteed spot, be it June or any month.

    I am swimming in open water that is cooling off now, (68 degrees) but wouldn't be swimming (unless in one place) in these conditions from about January to April or so. Practically, I would acclimatize to under 60-degree temps by January, but then I would start swimming in higher temps until April (at the earliest) and wouldn't that just undo my progress?

  • abbygirlroseabbygirlrose Chicago, IL (Los Angeles, CA)Member

    I don't have any data points to answer your questions but can speak from personal experience.

    I swam the channel on August 1st and didn't really start open water training or serious cold acclimatization until late May. I was coming off of a college season and solid pool training but did not have any open water until my semester ended and I returned to CA. I know that some people swear by cold showers, but I honestly found them to be so miserable after a hard training session that I skipped them.

    In terms of warmer water in April hindering your progress, I think it depends how warm. If you have been training at 60 and it goes up to 65/68 probably not, if it goes up to 80 then maybe. One other thing to consider that I think was important for me was arriving in Dover about a week early and training there. By late July, CA ocean temperatures were probably approaching 70 degrees but a week of training in Dover (coupled with an early July trip to SF) helped me regain my ability (and confidence) to swim in the cold water.

    On a separate note, what position # are they offering you in June?

  • WaterloggedWaterlogged United StatesMember

    @abbygirlrose that does help. I think I can get to temps in the mid-60s for a good part of the year, but finding low 60s or below 60s I would find very difficult. A good point would be that I can spend some of May and June (up to my swim in Dover...I think) so that should make it acceptable.
    The are offering a #2 slot in June btw.

  • miklcctmiklcct Kowloon, Hong KongMember

    @Waterlogged said:
    @abbygirlrose that does help. I think I can get to temps in the mid-60s for a good part of the year, but finding low 60s or below 60s I would find very difficult. A good point would be that I can spend some of May and June (up to my swim in Dover...I think) so that should make it acceptable.
    The are offering a #2 slot in June btw.

    I'm facing the same dilemma as well - a pilot is offering a #2 June slot but 14 - 15°C (that's sub-60 in American terms) looks horrible. I've never swum anything long below 17°C before. I can get to 17 - 20°C for a good part of the year (Dec to Apr) as well but getting 16°C or below is very difficult or even not possible at all in some of the years. The only method which may work is to spend two months in the U.K. working on the temperature, but getting used to 3 - 4 degrees down from my normal acclimation in just 2 months for 12 - 18 hours is a huge gamble. Fitness is not a problem as I will be fully prepared in January - March / April.

    Although a September or even October slot, in terms of temperature, is totally within my comfort zone, fitness-wise it may be a problem as I won't be able to sustain the training amount over the summer in my home as it is too hot (nothing under 28°C in summertime), even a mere 5 km is a problem for me, so it will become me "fully prepared" in January - March / April, but with a huge gap between my preparation and my attempt.

    So any advice for me? - pick the June slot, attempt at my peak fitness but taking a gamble on the temperature, or wait for a possible dropout late-season at my comfortable temperature but attempting at reduced fitness?

  • BogdanZBogdanZ Bucharest, RomaniaMember

    @miklcct said:

    @Waterlogged said:
    @abbygirlrose that does help. I think I can get to temps in the mid-60s for a good part of the year, but finding low 60s or below 60s I would find very difficult. A good point would be that I can spend some of May and June (up to my swim in Dover...I think) so that should make it acceptable.
    The are offering a #2 slot in June btw.

    I'm facing the same dilemma as well - a pilot is offering a #2 June slot but 14 - 15°C (that's sub-60 in American terms) looks horrible. I've never swum anything long below 17°C before. I can get to 17 - 20°C for a good part of the year (Dec to Apr) as well but getting 16°C or below is very difficult or even not possible at all in some of the years. The only method which may work is to spend two months in the U.K. working on the temperature, but getting used to 3 - 4 degrees down from my normal acclimation in just 2 months for 12 - 18 hours is a huge gamble. Fitness is not a problem as I will be fully prepared in January - March / April.

    Although a September or even October slot, in terms of temperature, is totally within my comfort zone, fitness-wise it may be a problem as I won't be able to sustain the training amount over the summer in my home as it is too hot (nothing under 28°C in summertime), even a mere 5 km is a problem for me, so it will become me "fully prepared" in January - March / April, but with a huge gap between my preparation and my attempt.

    So any advice for me? - pick the June slot, attempt at my peak fitness but taking a gamble on the temperature, or wait for a possible dropout late-season at my comfortable temperature but attempting at reduced fitness?

    Why would there be a reduced fitness late season?
    Is there anything more important than the EC crossing, to be in top shape late season for it?

  • miklcctmiklcct Kowloon, Hong KongMember
    edited December 2019

    @BogdanZ said:

    Why would there be a reduced fitness late season?
    Is there anything more important than the EC crossing, to be in top shape late season for it?

    It is too hot where I live in summer to train for marathon swimming (nothing below 28°C water available), the exact same reason why I didn't do clean half solo. (I did a relay though - the water temp was 29°C, sunny without wind - definitely not a good experience)

    BogdanZ
  • BogdanZBogdanZ Bucharest, RomaniaMember
    edited December 2019

    @miklcct said:

    @BogdanZ said:

    Why would there be a reduced fitness late season?
    Is there anything more important than the EC crossing, to be in top shape late season for it?

    It is too hot where I live in summer to train for marathon swimming (nothing below 28°C water available), the exact same reason why I didn't do clean half solo.

    Normally in olympic distance pools the temp is around 27degrees.
    You could take "cold" showers for about 20-22 degrees or add, as i sometimes did, ice buckets in the thub. Or a mix of sauna with cold showers. I think, not tried, the EC effort consists of both cold addaption and mental/physical prep. The mental/physical can be done in any lake/ warm water. My opinion. I also live in a warmer country with 2-3 months per year available (reasonable, not ice) cold water and we still have 2 locals finished EC.

  • miklcctmiklcct Kowloon, Hong KongMember
    edited December 2019

    @BogdanZ said:
    The mental/physical can be done in any lake/ warm water. My opinion.

    My experience this year told me that I simply couldn't have any effective workout in warm or even hot water. I always burnt out in about 2 - 3 km when training in the squad in the summer, and my speed didn't improve at all over the summer. Once the pool cooled down to under 21°C, my speed drastically improved and I'm now about 9" / 100 m faster than in September, doing intervals on a time unimaginable 3 months ago and still sustainable for at least 4 km in a 18°C pool. However, the chance of the water getting down to 16°C or below is slim.

    I also live in a warmer country with 2-3 months per year available (reasonable, not ice) cold water and we still have 2 locals finished EC.

    Your profile says you are from Romania, right? The Black Sea is cold, not much different from the channel. The country I live has about 2 - 3 months (Jan - Mar) per year available "cooler" water with strong wind, rough seas and short daylight which mostly corresponds to late season (Sep - Oct) channel conditions, but a sad truth is that we don't have any locals finished EC, or any of the O7 unassisted, though I know 2 expats in my triathlon club who have done it before moving here.

    Solo
  • WaterloggedWaterlogged United StatesMember

    @miklcct

    I went ahead with a June 11-23rd slot despite the temps. I will hope that global warming can do its bit, but plan to train as if it will not. I am using a Fitmax rehab pool in my garage with tethered swimming in the warmer months - I have access to an ice machine to get temps down, but this is a challenge too. I can use local lakes Dec-Feb/March or so, depending on the lake, but it is hard to get enough swimming in there as kayak/boat assist is a must due to fishing boats motoring around year-round. I will have to go a few hours north to catch some colder open water as I close in on April and May.

    @abbygirlrose (thanks for the previous response btw, very helpful. I have tried the cold shower idea and honestly don't see how it will translate).

    Solo
  • abbygirlroseabbygirlrose Chicago, IL (Los Angeles, CA)Member

    @Waterlogged I think the main benefit of the cold showers is mental. The idea being that doing something uncomfortable and out of one's comfort zone regularly can help with mental preparation. I just found that it made me so miserable that it wasn't worth the benefit.

    Waterloggedmiklcct
  • miklcctmiklcct Kowloon, Hong KongMember
    edited December 2019

    A pilot is offering a good #2 slot late September but he expects 3 kph swimming speed which I can't do (I currently expect 4 hours for 10 km). Why is there such expectation and is speed really important for success? Do many pilots expect such speed as well? I haven't made my decision yet as I haven't seen anything which I have confidence.

    @abbygirlrose said:
    @Waterlogged I think the main benefit of the cold showers is mental. The idea being that doing something uncomfortable and out of one's comfort zone regularly can help with mental preparation. I just found that it made me so miserable that it wasn't worth the benefit.

    I have given up doing cold showers this year. Last year I didn't turn on the heater until it was below 15°C, this year I am using it at 18°C.

  • flystormsflystorms Memphis, TNMember

    I'd imagine the speed is partially to do with being able to work and time the swim with the currents.

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