Dover – TI6 – Day 6
Arrived at the Harbor sharply at 8am ready for our morning session. What a gorgeous day greeted us. Sun was out, Harbor was the calmest I have witnessed to date and there were already a few swimmers in the water. In fact one of them was an Australian gent, Cyril, 70 years and 9 months who is attempting to swim the Channel with his window opening up starting this coming Sunday. He will set the record as the oldest to cross the channel (if successful) to date by five months. He and his training partner, Ryan (half his age and from the UK) were swimming laps around the harbor. A film crew was waiting for the return to the beach to continue to document his achievement. They kept a really good pace the entire way. When they exited Ryan was wearing jammers over his speedo to use as drag so he could keep his tempo the same as Cyril’s but it kept his speed the same. We got in and did our two walls swim heading to the steel curtain first. Swim total for the morning was a mere 2800 meters. As we were changing Cyril and Ryan came up to change and Rachel was talking to Cyril and then I hear him say “good morning Nancy.” Nancy it seems has become quite a regular sitting up in the sheltered area with all the locals. She has met and talked with many people. Another Channel celebrity she met was Loretta Cox (no relation to the Lynn and Laura) who had just written her book ‘In from the Deep End’ and enjoying it quite nicely. In fact , we told Jai (our English team member) about Loretta and Jai knew remembered her immediately. Loretta told Nancy that Jai had given her TI lessons the previous year. Loretta was a real treat. Nancy has also met a German gentleman who is also a channel crosser who walks by every morning. Last night when we were leaving Eight Bells a couple says hello and then asks Nancy if she’ll be at the Harbor in the morning. She says yes and I of course ask who they are and Nancy says that they walk their dog every morning and stop and chat. Nancy has fit in quite nicely with the locals and channel swimmers; of course I already knew she was a social butterfly.
The news is we are still number three in line and that the number one slot has to confirm sometime this morning. The number two slot is another relay team, made up of U.K., U.S., and Australian swimmers. The U.K. swimmer is also a TI Coach. They sounded like they were not excited about swimming in the lumpy (Loretta’s description of the current sea conditions) channel.
Oh, and it started raining again with lightning and thunder at noon today. Things are definitely looking on the down side. The upside is that if we don’t go tonight then we’ll be back (with my best Arnold imitation) next summer for another try--open water swimming at its worst.
After the rain Nancy and I walked into the center of Dover to visit the Roman Painted House. This boarding house was part of a larger Roman fort the started in 47A.D. and grew to house 500 Roman Soldiers at one point. The Painted house was four stories and believed to have about 70 rooms for weary travelers to this part of the Roman Empire after their tiring trip across the Channel—which after viewing the white caps for a week I can believe they were weary from being sea sick. It was quite modern for its day, as it had heated walls that used the flumes from the fireplaces on the first floor to go through the walls on the way to the roof. They excavated the house starting in 1977 when they discovered the remains when looking to build new roads and found it buried. The Romans were here until the late 300’s.
We caught up with the rest of the team for a walk to Shakespeare Beach (the starting point for all Channel Swims) pics can be found on the TI6 FB Page. As we walked the 20 minutes around the right freight side of the Harbor, the rain started to come down. We were still prepared to go for a swim when we got there. We were all pretty quiet as we stared out at the Channel, each I’m sure thinking what might have been. I think we each said our peace and gave thanks for having this great week filled with the highest of highs and now the lowest of lows but still reflecting on what we had achieved together and individually during our daily swims in the Harbor. We all knew we were ready to conquer the Channel. As we stood there and got ready for another group photo on the beach the lightning came and we made a dash to get off the beach while several team members sprinted to the white cliffs for souvenirs. The Channel was angry and lumpy and we felt like we were getting an in your face for being on the beach about to enter the water for a swim but not the official swim and that’s why we were chased off the beach. I thought about how this was putting it to rest and we all were ready to move on. So off to dinner at Blake’s to eat because that’s what swimmers do. No post power shake, bar or other tasteless training supplement everyone seems to be taking these days but a great Dover Lemon Sole with a couple of pints of draft ale.
Forty minutes later and sitting in the basement of Blake’s, a real great Rathskeller ambience, we were hoisting pints and eating. All of a sudden Dave gets off his phone and says, “No more pints, that’s your last one, we’re swimming at 10:30 am reporting to the dock at 9:30 am. You could have heard a pin drop. We all looked at each other and then back at Dave and said, “You’re kidding right, for real????” And Dave said he just finished talking to Skipper Mike and he had a boat for us if we wanted—Hell Yeah, we wanted a boat!!! So as this started to kick in we then realized that we had to make some other plans and undo plans that had just been locked down not five minutes before. Plane reservations had to be changed, hotel cancelled, taxi’s changed days, reservations for one night in Dover, etc. We were all in shock and elated at the same time. We left the restaurant at about 8 pm and convened at the team flat for a meeting. There Dave laid out the details for the morning of meeting time, itinerary for the morning and going to the pier. Again, we were still in a state of shock and disbelief as Nancy and I left for the County Hotel. We got back to the room around 11pm and I started packing for the morning, as we wouldn’t have a lot of time in the morning. I tried to lie down and sleep but now the impact, magnitude, and the fact we were really going to do this set in. WOW!!!!