Tessa, Relay Channel Swimmer 2016 & Boat Leader 2017 - @dolphindiver

Most people who have been involved in any capacity will agree that the channel water gets in your blood and it’s hard to let it go.

I tried to swim the channel as part of a relay team in 2014 but a nasty car accident forced me to withdraw, however the injury I sustained made the work that Aspire do so much more relevant to me.  Andrew recognised I had “unfinished business” so I don’t think he was that surprised to see me back again ready to swim in 2016. I was lucky enough to be part of Team Piranha and you may have seen our swim on the video. We had a great Boat Leader who was always so happy and supportive so whilst I really wanted to swim the Channel again (and I will) I still wanted to be involved and do something for the Aspire and the Swim Team this year so was delighted when Andrew took me on as a Boat Leader for this summer.

Tessa swimming in the Channel

- Tessa swimming the English Channel in 2016

As a swimmer it takes a while to get your head around just how much effort it will take to raise the money and as much effort has to be put into the fundraising as the swimming and I have to be honest I was very happy that I hit the minimum target fairly early which then meant that everything after that was a bonus (and hoping to get our team to be top fundraising team).  We have to remember we take on the swim because we want to do it but Aspire support us because they need the money!

As a Boat Leader I was very lucky to have a team who bonded really well really early and are so supportive of each other even though there are some geographic challenges. Working together as a team cannot be underestimated when you are trying to get dressed on Dover beach in May and your fingers don’t work because you are so cold and its raining and you still have to get in for another swim, you need each other to help you, and you will need each other on the boat, whilst you may not be as cold in July/August you will (should) be exhausted from swimming hard.

Sea Eagles ready to leave Dover

- Sea Eagles, 2017 Relay Channel Swim Team

I stood in for another Boat Leader last month with the Sea Eagles and it was the most fun I have had all year. Utterly exhausting I’d gone straight from a day at work and was awake for 40 hours but that did not diminish the fun I had doing lots of Facebook updates for all the swimmers so all their friends and family could see the challenges and progress and seeing more fundraising coming in, in response to that.

The experience I had swimming last year was invaluable and I would encourage anyone to take on a Boat Leader role after they have swum. It’s lots of and yes there is hard work too encouraging the swim practice to improve speed and to encourage the fundraising activities too.  As a Boat Leader the toughest question I cannot answer is when will the team swim? As I write my team the Porpoises were blown out of their window and are now waiting for a call when our boat gets an available window. So lesson for all; be as flexible as possible before and after your allocated window . You never know what the weather will do to your plans.

Next year? I’m going to be swimming in a Loch Ness Relay #skins – we are busy recruiting at least one skins team and two more teams who may be skins or wetsuits (it’s a lot colder than the channel) so get in touch with me or Andrew to talk about that and of course because the Channel is still calling me I hope to be a Boat Leader again for one of the Channel Teams still unable to answer the question when will the swim happen and look forward to more #channelwaiting.

- Tessa's Channel Swim in 2016

Aspire Relay Channel Swim

Regarded by many as the "Everest of swimming", swimming the Channel is one of the world’s toughest challenges. In fact, it might just be the hardest thing you’ll ever attempt. But, the rewards are just fantastic: the team camaraderie is second to none and nothing beats that feeling of finally arriving in France! Read more about the Aspire Relay Channel Swim here.

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