A NEW (AND TOUGHER) CHALLENGE: THE NORTH CHANNEL SWIM
Sometimes you do not just follow the flow - you are the part of the flow
It is less than month until my English Channel relay swim with my team “Out of Our Comfort Zone”. - and I suddenly found myself in an even bigger challenge: A North Channel 5-person relay swim in the team "Cilgin Turkler" (Mad Turks), which will probably take place, weather-dependent of course, on July 29. Two members of my English Channel relay team, Emre Deliveli and Raha Akhavan, are already in the North Channel to support our English Channel coach Kamil Resa Alsaran’s solo attempt, which will probably take place on July 27- and they are part of the relay. Kamil, a two-time English Channel swimmer and Triple Crown (English Channel, Catalina, Manhattan) will be in our team as well, with the last member being Ayse Yasemin Yildirim, the first Turkish woman to swim Gibraltar.
The North Channel crossing is more or less the same distance as the English Channel. However, it is considered a much more difficult route for two reasons: First, the water temperature is several degrees lower; for example, whereas Dover is around 17 degrees at the moment, my relay teammates have told me that the water temperature around Donaghadee Beach has been around 12-14 degrees for the past few days. Also, the lion’s mane jellyfish in the North Channel have quite a bit more bite, or rather sting, than the ones in the English Channel. For these reasons, the North Channel was considered unswimmable, and it wasn’t until 1947 when the first successful crossing was made- the next one did not happen until 1970. There are only around 70 successful solo swims to date- compared to around 2,400 for the English Channel. The North Channel is considered by many as the toughest one of the Ocean’s Seven (https://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/oceans-seven-marathon-swimmers-hell-heaven/) swims. The cold water, the big jellyfish, the currents and unpredictable sea conditions make this route really hard.
The logistics of the actual swim is actually very similar to the English Channel. You start just outside the town of Donaghadee in Northern Ireland- and swim across, usually ending up near the Scottish town of Portpatrick. The rules for both the solo and relay crossings are quite similar as well- for example, just like in the English Channel, we will all be swimming for one hour in a predetermined order.
I am flying to Belfast on July 26 to join my teammates. Kamil will hopefully do his solo swim on July 27, supported by his wife and son and our relay team members. We then have a day of rest before our own big day on July 29.
For me, doing this challenging swim is another step in my journey into cold water swims and being out of my comfort zone, which began in a German lake near Frankfurt at the end of October. Since then, I have completed many cold-water challenges, the last being my 2-hour English and North Channel qualifier at 12 degrees in Achensee, Austria. I am looking forward to my first official cold-water swim, surprisingly in the North Channel prior to my English Channel swim! Sometimes, all energies bring you to that place where you are, and you do not only follow the flow - you are the part of the flow and unstoppable.
Out of Comfort Zone
The North Channel swim is approximately the same distance as the English Channel, but it has two major differences. The first is the sea temperature, which can be 3-5 degrees lower and the second is the hundreds of Lions Mane jellyfish which plague the Channel during the summer months and are for the most part unavoidable.
WE CROSSED THE NORTH CHANNEL!
29th July, 2019 The first Turkish Solo and Relay Team in the History
Sometimes you do not just follow the flow - you are part of the flow. It is less than a month until my English Channel relay swim and I suddenly found myself in an even bigger challenge: On July 29, we crossed the North Channel, from Ireland to Scotland- considered to be one of the toughest open water swims in the world. We swam through armies of toxic jellyfish and saw killer whales 1 km away from us. My relay team (Emre Deliveli, Raha Akhavan, Yasemin Bagana) and I were 3-4 times in the freezing water for one hour, and it took us 12 hours 14 minutes to swim about 36 kilometers to reach Scotland. The water temp. was about 12-15 degrees. In my first hour, sea temperature was 12.5 C, and there were many Lion's Mane Jellies. I thought I was in a minefield. I could not even imagine crossing the North Channel a few weeks ago because of those harder conditions compared to the English Channel. I had a huge respect for all of this, when I just arrived to Donaghadee and asked myself: Why I am here and what am I doing? A bundle of energies & synergies beside my hard winter swim & mental toughness training, pushed me to be here and live this indescribable experience. Happy, tired and proud, back to my project in London with the motto „Impossible is nothing“. There are no limits to what you can accomplish. Except the limits you place on your own thinking.#believeinyourself #togetherstrong