13 July 2007

30 miles from England to Almost France

I am catching the train in an hour or so to head to London to meet up with some friends. I am just ready to get out of Dover. I am feeling much better, but I know the pneumonia will keep me feeling exhausted for awhile.

I met up with Reg last night. He gave me a chart of my swim and calculated the distance I swam - 30 miles!

I am working on writing up something about the swim but it will be several weeks until it is up here with photos and videos.

Thank you again for all of your support.


11 July 2007

quick update from Jessica

First of all, thank you all so much for your outpouring of support and concern over the past few days. I am deeply touched by all of your thoughtful and supportive e-mails. I didn't have internet access in the hospital, but Alice and Heather printed out and brought some of the e-mails. Like true South Enders Julian, Michelle and Alice visited me daily and made sure my spirits were up.

I think you have all heard a bit about the swim, and I look forward to writing a more detailed e-mail about it soon. I had trouble keeping anything down after hour 8 and somehow contracted aspiration pneumonia during the swim. The doctors think it was from inhaling sea water or maybe some of my feedings. I was in very bad shape after being pulled and my parents took me to the emergency room Sunday night after the swim. I was admitted as soon as they saw the results of my chest x-ray. I was immediately put on a cocktail of intravenous antibiotics. I was released from the hospital today (Wednesday) at 2 p.m.

My focus during my training and during the swim was to get to France. I never thought of "failure" as an option. I felt confidant in my training and knew I had done all I could have to prepare to swim the English Channel. In addition in getting to France, I had two wishes or prayers. Those wishes were to have the strength to endure the adventure and the courage to embrace the struggle. I believe I did both of those things wholeheartedly.

I can't wait to give you more stories from the swim, but this internet cafe is closing now. I'll try and come back tomorrow. The swim was truly an adventure. And damn...France was so close! Close enough to see the color of the trees. OK, gotta go now. More later.


09 July 2007

Update: More to come

It's Alice again. Jessica is currently unable to update her blog and I know people will be checking back in soon.

We do have great photos and video, but those will be put up later, so keep checking back! We have other things at hand.

More details will follow of the swim in the next few days. Yes, it is true that we pulled her at 14 hours. She was so close. She got to within a mile and a half of the French shore, and then got pushed out to 3 miles. We haven't debriefed the swim in it's entirety yet, as it was an exhausting ride back to England and later, an exhausting evening for all.

At 11 and a half hours Jessica threw up. She threw up multiple times and we could see that she had not digested any of her feedings. She did those last few hours on empty. She really is incredible.

The boat ride back was rough. She continued to throw up as we tried to get her warm. She was weak, and her breathing was labored. She had a hard night, which I will let Jessica share with you when she is better (but don't worry, she is OK).

Thank you everyone for your good thoughts.

07 July 2007

Tomorrow is the day!

Yes, I finally get to swim the English Channel. I just got off the phone and he says tomorrow is the day. We are busily getting everything ready. Thank you for all of your support. It is going to be a great day and I feel fantastic.

Onward to FRANCE!

06 July 2007

It is still not right, Love

Reg says "It is still not right, Love." So, no swim on 7/7/07. We are waiting for the wind to be below force 3. He says the forecast gets better on Sunday, so maybe then. We are going to head into town to visit with Julian, Scotty and Michelle since we won't be busily preparing my feeding supplies tonight.

I'll keep you posted. The right day is just around the corner. I can feel it.

Thanks for all the well wishes and good thoughts.

Onward to France!

Follow me to Dover...and wait...

Today we met Julian and Scotty at the Dover Harbour for a leasurily swim at 10. I brought my camera so you can enjoy our antics. Yesterday Reg was more blunt with Julian and told him that the forecast was "crap". People on the beach still seem hopeful about tomorrow possibly being the first day of the Channel season that a swimmer will set out to get to France the hard way.

Here are Julian and I on the beach, with France somewhere behind us:

A dramatic beginning to our swim in the harbour:

View of the White Cliffs from the beach:

Finally in the water:

They say if the flag on the castle in Dover is not blowing in the wind, it is a good day to swim the Channel. Here it is in the distance, flying in the wind:

I am ready for the real thing!

05 July 2007

The Storm Before the Calm

Reg said not tomorrow. Now we know why. The winds have picked up significantly, the fog has moved in and there are countless big "white horses" (white caps) on the Channel. It is raining. We are sitting comfortably on the couch inside our cement house with steel shutters drinking French wine. The house is aptly named "The Gun Emplacement" as it was used to defend England against invaders by sea during both World Wars.

We are trying to be as French as possible in hopes of getting a little bit closer to France, which we keep believing is some where out there beyond the fog bank. Alice is diligently listening to "In Flight French" and Heather is speaking in some convoluted accent which seems British at times and French at times. Heather even did her hair in French braids and contemplated giving herself a French manicure. As I type this, I am using my best "Brench" (British-French) accent. We sit staring at the barbie doll pink fishing nets, which remind us of the task we are waiting for. Yes, we have cabin fever and yes, this is the reality of waiting for your day in the Channel. My dad has gone to bed, as he is getting up an hour earlier each day, so he will be prepared to wake up at 1 a.m. on the big day. However, he is sleeping facing France.

"Keep everything crossed, Love"

Reg says no swim tomorrow and keep everything crossed for tomorrow. Now that we won't be finalizing swim details this evening, we have time to put some photos/videos up on the blog. Check back later. :)


04 July 2007

An Inter-Continental Moment of Silence

Several days ago we found out that members of the South End Rowing Club were going to have a moment of silence to "channel" energy to the channel swimmers here in Dover. This moment was going to take place after the SERC's annual 4th of July club swim at 9:45 am in San Francisco. This is also the day before the first day of the tide Jessica and Julian are going to swim. There is an 8 hour time difference between San Francisco and Dover. What do you think the 2 SERC channel swimmers patiently waiting in Dover were doing during that time?

At 5:43 pm here in Dover (ie 9:45 am at SERC) Jessica, Heather, Jessica's parents Jon and Joann, and myself all went outside. It was drizzling lightly, but there were patches of sunlight coming through the rain clouds hitting the Channel. We stood in a line at the edge of the cliff and stared out across the water, watching the ships and wondering if we would catch a glimpse of the French shoreline. At 5:45 pm we observed a 1 1/2 minute moment of silence, all thinking of the task at hand and feeling the thoughts of the people back home in San Francisco who were all thinking of us at the same time. As instructed, at the end of our moment, we all chanted "South End, South End, South End!"

At 5:45 pm in Folkstone Harbor, a few miles outside of Dover where Reg Brickell keeps his boat, SERC's other channel swimmer Julian was with his crew member Scotty and his parents. They were unable to observe the moment of silence as they were in the process of buying Reg Brickell a pint...also true South End style!

Tonight, Julian and his entourage joined us for dinner at our house. We all took a stroll at sunset along the white cliffs and observed life in the channel. It is wonderful to have so much support here as well as at home.

Thank you to the South End Rowing Club members for "channel"ing your thoughts to us, your support is definitely felt, even here, 10,000 miles away.

PS - Reg believes Jessica will probably swim Saturday and Julian on Sunday. There is a chance, he says, that if the wind dies down, Jessica could go as early as Friday.

03 July 2007

Thursday? "Not looking good for Thursday, Love, not looking good at all"

Hey Everyone, Alice here. Jessica has given me some power over her blog now, so sometimes it might be me instead of her. After a day of anticipation and of waiting for the time to come tonight to call Reg, the pilot, to hear if Thursday would be THE day...and after almost an hour and a half of "network busy" signals from the British phone service, Reg informed us, "Not looking good for Thursday, Love, not looking good."

To be honest it wasn't the response we have been waiting, anticipating, or even expecting after today. After a couple days of staring out the living room window hoping for a glimpse of France through the rain and fog, we spent many hours today watching France! It was clear enough to finally see the French shoreline, and I am sitting here tonight looking out at the lights on the coast of Calais. Jessica's quote of the day today, "Wow, France looks really close when you look through the binoculars!"

They say this is the toughest time. The waiting. But we are all in good spirits and everyone has been well prepared for the waiting. Jigsaw puzzles, knitting projects, good books, board games, walks through town, and commentary on just about everything are passing the time well.

A huge rainbow encircled the sky tonight, from one side of France to the other. We think it is a good sign!

Thank you all for your thoughts and well wishes.

Given everything...Reg still said to call tomorrow, so Thursday or Friday still are not crossed off.

02 July 2007

We're in Dover!

Alice, Heather, my parents and I are all here. I took a swim yesterday in the harbor. The water felt warm and salty. I met this morning with my pilot Reg. He says to call on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. and he'll let me know if I'll be jumping Thursday morning at 3:30.

Our house has a beautiful view of the Channel. Yesterday for about five minutes I could even see France! I feel great and ready to tackle this swim.

Onward to France!