Cold-water torture and jelly fish? There has to be a good reason…

Lou bumps up the swimming miles and prepares to swim in a jellyfish-infested lake in prep for the Channel swim


When I started this blog, way back when I thought 12°C water was inhumanly freezing, I explained that the winter swimming was to prepare for a cross Channel relay. 


Phase one of training was cold-water acclimatisation, i.e. swimming in the sea without a wetsuit through the winter. Phase two – actually training, doing decent swimsets and working hard at it – seemed a long way off. Now we’re on the sunny side of Christmas (ironic laugh) and I consider 12°C water to be tropical (I’m not being sarcastic), it’s definitely time to bump up the swimming miles in the pool and get puffed out.

The sea, by the way, is not playing ball. It’s still perishingly cold, and all the snow and cold winds from Scandinavia aren’t helping to warm it up. Getting back up to 30mins in the sea will be a red-letter day.

It’s also time to get our Channel admin sorted out. We’ve booked our boat and pilot. We’ve registered our team with The Channel Swimming Association, but still have to assemble medicals, fill in more forms and write more cheques before we’re completely confirmed. But we’re nearly there. 31 March is the deadline.

‘We’ is our team of six swimmers called the Seabrook Space Cadets. We have Ali Budynkiewicz, Jo Baynham, Sarah Pascoe, Keith Cummings, Gary Butcher and me. Gary and I are the sea swimming newbies – the others all have an impressive range of lifeguard qualifications, ice swimming and long distance experience between them. Our reserve, Alice Hubbard, already has a Channel solo to her name. All of them live by the sea in Dorset so come the warmer weather and longer days they’ll be in the sea several times a week. Still, the Basingstoke Aquadrome is lovely…

Our slot is a week in September. From 1219 September our bags will be packed and we’ll answer every phone call expecting it to be The Call. We can expect to leave the dock in Dover at any time of day or night and start and finish our swim at any time of day or night. It seems a long way off, but it’ll come round quickly. Between then and now, there’ll be many 2hr-plus swims, both along the coast and straight out to sea, night swims and even swims in a jellyfish-infested lake to help us get used to swimming while being stung. Yes, really.

On that painful note, perhaps this is the moment to launch a shameless plug for my fundraising page. If something you’re doing is painful and scary and you have to practice being stung by jellyfish, it’s worth raising money for three fantastic charities. They’re a trio of excellent reasons to put up with cold-water torture and jelly fish stings.


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