The English Channel had been an ultimate dream for so many years. I was stood on the pebbly beach at Samphire Hoe beneath the infamous chalky white cliffs near Dover and covered almost head to toe in a white vaseline and lanolin mixture called "Channel Grease". This was it. I was about to attempt the 22 mile crossing for the third time in five years. I'd hoped I'd learned from my previous failed efforts. But friends reminded me that they weren't failed efforts at all. They were only failed attempts if I hadn't learned from the experience. I often recalled a quote to the press by a Channel swimming legend, Mike Read. He said that if you keep putting one hand in front of the other you will eventually get to France.
I waded into the cool waters of the channel to catch up with the Sea Satin and my support crew which would guide me to the shores of France. I was immediately greeted by large swells and choppy waters that continued for the entire duration of the swim.
60 000 strokes and 15 hours later at 2am UK time I could clearly see the bright lights of the port town of Calais. I was handed a bottle of carbohydrate drink and told it would be my last feed. 15 minutes later I saw a barrage of camera flashes coming from the boat. That meant I had made it. A few seconds later my feet touched down. I was waist deep and just a few metres from the beach. I dipped my head under the water and ran my fingers through the soft, welcoming sand. It was an experience like no other. I had made it all the way to France.
I had swum around 27 miles due to the customary strong tide off the French coast and obtained a childhood dream. But this was only the beginning...
English Channel, England to France
15 August 2011: (22 miles): 15 hrs 18 mins