On July 3rd 2014, TORQ Team Distance Swimmer Vicky Miller successfully completed a solo crossing of the English Channel, clocking up over 21 miles and 40,000 strokes in the process.
My Channel crossing swim time of 11 hours and 7 minutes has made me the fastest Brit of either sex so far this year, and this has only been bettered by 26 other British women ever! For me, the main event of 2014 was always going to be swimming the English Channel and after succeeding in shorter races (including victories in The Eton 10km and the Champion of Champions Race), it was now time to seriously put my endurance skills to the test.
Less than 500 women have ever swum across the Channel and success depends upon a host of factors including ability to withstand the cold water of 16 degrees without a wetsuit, avoiding seasickness, coping with jellyfish and managing to take onboard enough energy throughout the duration of the swim.
At 2 a.m. I set off with a smile on my face. I was accompanied by my experienced pilot Paul Foreman, and I felt relaxed and happy as I swam off into the darkness, knowing that it would only be dark for the first couple of hours. As planned, feeds were frequent. From the outset, I easily maintained my stroke rate of around 65 strokes per minute, I also maintained my reasonable leg kick for a distance swimmer.
After 5 hours of relatively calm waters, I was making swift progress towards France. Unfortunately however, the conditions changed and the seas became noticeably rougher with waves continuously battering me. I stayed positive and moved myself to the other side of the boat. This moved helped a little, but it was certainly tough and I was keen to hide the fact that the constant waves were starting to effec me. I did admit later though that I’d actually found the given conditions very tough.
After around 9 hours of swimming, France became more visible and I then accidently became lulled into practicing my background water polo moves (through doing a little bit more head-up out of the water swimming) than I probably ought to have. I still felt strong & was feeding well. After around 10.5 hours of swimming (at 12.30pm), pilot Paul Foreman indicated that this could be the last of the half hourly feeds and that I ought to take onboard whatever was left to ensure one final push to reach the shore. The last couple of kilometers were tricky, as the currents felt stronger, and there was a temptation to look to France frequently. However, I pushed through and with 300 metres to go, the boat stopped and my dad got in to the water to join me (as my safety swimmer) as I completed the final leg of my swim.
I landed on Cap Gris Nez after swimming for 11 hours and 7 mins, I felt this was an extraordinary accomplishment and clearly the result of over a years worth of 100% commitment & dedication to the challenge.
During the swim, I overtook some male swimmers (that had started their swim 3 hours before me), and as of the end of July my time has only been bettered by 2 American soloists and 3 relay teams this year.
I’m proud to be a member of the TORQ Endurance Swim Team and am very grateful to TORQ and all sponsorship partners.Over the next few weeks I will compete in some shorter distance events to include Coniston Chillswim 5.25mile in September. I already have my sights set on other mammoth swim challenges for next year and so 2015 is sure to see me in action again.