English Channel and COVID Decisions
Thoughts on finding someone to be my Support Crew or Thoughts on traveling for the swim?
I am scheduled to swim the EC in mid-August (will book flight and room in the next couple days to leave fist of August- flights are plentiful and cheap and rooms still looking good). More than a few obstacles have come my way and I think I have addressed them pretty well thus far. I know that ultimately this is my decision, but would like discussion on topic. There is now some hesitancy for my support crew to travel. On this past Monday, the US posted a DO NOT TRAVEL message on our government travel website for the UK. I CAN go to England, as it appears I can still fly back with the proper tests, and I am fully vaccinated, so feel it is only a slight risk of minor COVID symptoms from worst-case scenario.
My support crew does not feel as confident about this. Not to mention, there is a 5 day quarantine for everyone in the best-case scenario. My feeding schedule is really easy, I have two different mixes that are alternated every hour, so a bottle (I drink half of) every 30 minutes for most of the swim and 1/4 every 15 in the last hours of the swim. What are thoughts (knowledge about would be helpful as well) on hiring someone to support me for the swim (is this even possible)? Thoughts on travel for this swim (too big of a risk?).
Again, I know this is my call. I am just checking to see if my own drive to complete it is out of line or if it seems reasonable to others, so I can roll the thoughts around in my head a bit.
@Waterlogged I traveled to the UK to swim the EC last year (Sept). This was of course pre-vax but during a period of relatively low cases. Like for you, my US crew were unable to travel - in my case because of the 14 day quarantine requirements/delays that was required at that time. I was very fortunate that two UK based friends I had made (both open water distance swimmers with Channel and Channel crewing experience) at a training camp in Europe volunteered to be my replacement crew. IMHO your drive to complete is good. It's up to you to assess risk but based on my travel experience last year I found the international travel part to be un-stressful, though I had to rebook twice because of flight cancellations (I would suggest that you take this factor into account in your planning and get to the UK as far ahead of your swim as you can manage). As far as recruiting UK crew, you might like to reach out on the many Channel swimming FB groups: Dover Channel Training, Channel Swimmers and so on and explain your situation. I would not be at all surprised if you could quickly find replacement crew whose expenses I'm sure you will cover and you can certainly offer to hire, but could very well offer to help even without compensation. (I made a donation to a UK charity that one of my crew had raised money for on earlier swims as a way of thanking my crew for their help.) If you go ahead, good luck with everything!
When I traveled for my EC swim last month, I was at the mercy of local support for crew. I was able to find two volunteers by posting to the Dover Channel Training Facebook page, as mentioned by the previous comment. I offered to compensate them for their time, but both declined. That was awesome and unexpected, and I wouldn't count on that for you. I've seen other recent posts to that Facebook page requesting crew support, and from what I've seen they've been getting positive responses. Also, when you're there, you might be able to find somebody last minute by connecting with people swimming at Dover Harbour, especially weekend mornings.
I believe the quarantine rules in the UK are still 10 days, with a Day 5 test to release option. Note that this Day 5 still requires you to quarantine until those Day 5 results are released, which will likely be 2-3 days later. In my case, I arrived early morning on Day 0 and immediately went by train to Dover to quarantine. My Day 5 results came back mid-afternoon on Day 7, so in all just over 7 full days of quarantine.
The current travel rules for US and UK will allow you to travel. I don't think it's too much of a risk, more an annoyance to have to spend that extra time in quarantine. Just be respectful to all the systems put in place and practice good habits to keep healthy. The worst of it is definitely making sure you do all the paperwork and order all the the COVID tests (one before you go, 2-3 while in quarantine, and 1 before you return). It's quite the hassle. Not quite as big of a deal was ordering meals and other deliveries while in quarantine; I kind of wish I instead had somebody local who could pick things up for me. Definitely pack things to do for when you're in quarantine: I packed myself a couple jigsaw puzzles and a few activity books.
It's good that you have a simple feed plan. Simple is better, especially when you're working with people you don't know. I suggest you bring along as much pre-mixed bottles as you can. I also suggest organizing everything in Tupperware containers or similar to make finding things easier.
I'm in Dover to crew for a 2 way between 14th and 21st August. Once that swim's done, I'll happily crew for anybody from overseas who has no crew. Just feel free to message. I must go home on 21st or 22nd, though, as family are visiting.
All of your contributions here were helpful. I think it is good to know that your travel experience wasn't too stressful @swimfreeordie and also @batches finding support was also nice to hear. I have a 2 slot and have someone who has offered if my swim goes the 16-21, so I will just need to find support for 14 (shouldn't have an option that day if I am number 2 right?) -15th. @KatieBun, I appreciate the offer and will keep you in mind if you group goes before me. I have decided to forge ahead, so we will see where it takes me. I had used the Dover Training Page and the Channel Swimmers FB pages to reach out, and that is definitely the place to go to find a supportive audience. Good luck to the 2-way, perhaps I will see them making laps!
Not quite as big of a deal was ordering meals and other deliveries while in quarantine; I kind of wish I instead had somebody local who could pick things up for me. Definitely pack things to do for when you're in quarantine: I packed myself a couple jigsaw puzzles and a few activity books.
And I hope that you have a working bank card and mobile reception then. I had no problem ordering food from the supermarket in quarantine but my friend who came this month (just before the quarantine requirement from Hong Kong was lifted) got one of his bank card rejected, and he did not have phone reception to receive OTP for another bank card!