A tougher challenge
Sometimes you do not just follow the flow - you are the part of the flow
It was less than a month until my English Channel relay swim with my team "Out of Our Comfort Zone" when I suddenly found myself in an even bigger challenge: A North Channel 5-person relay swim in the team "Cilgin Turkler" (Mad Turks), which took place on July 29 of 2019. My relay team members were: Emre Deliveli, Raha Akhavan, Kamil, a two-time English Channel swimmer and Triple Crown (English Channel, Catalina, Manhattan), and Ayse Yasemin Yildirim, the first Turkish woman to swim Gibraltar.
The North Channel crossing is almost 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 was around 17 degrees those days, the water temperature around Donaghadee Beach was around 12-15 degrees during the swim. Also, the lion's mane jellyfishes 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 that 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 this swim were very similar to the English Channel. You start just outside the town of Donaghadee in Northern Ireland- and swim across, ending up near the Scottish town of Portpatrick. The relay crossings' rules were similar as well; for example, just like in the English Channel, each of us only swum for one hour in a predetermined order.
Doing this challenging swim was 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. Surprisingly, this was my first official cold-water swim in the North Channel before 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 part of the flow and unstoppable.
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
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