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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

French Swims Oversees

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Beth French is a 39-year-old British swimmer, motivational speaker, and coach. The 24-hour Club member plans to become the first person to complete a Calendar Year Oceans Seven.

Her schedule for the Calendar Year Oceans Seven is as follows:

1. North Channel scheduled for 6 September 2016
2. Catalina Channel scheduled for 13 October 2016
3. Molokai Channel scheduled for late November 2016
4. Cook Strait scheduled for spring 2017
5. Strait of Gibraltar scheduled for May 2017
6. Tsugaru Channel scheduled for June 2017
7. English Channel scheduled for 22 August 2017

These are her thoughts in planning this feat:

"There comes a time in planning a challenge when it feel Sisyphean.

The endless, thankless mental battering of continually pushing oneself towards a goal...and little knock backs, doubts, daily life getting in the way of your destined path. When all of a sudden, you are a hair's breadth from a precipice - not event day but 'D' day - do or die day. Deposit day. Once you pay your nonrefundable wedge, it's downhill - things move easier, but gain a momentum of their own: careening out of (your) control towards the inevitable crisis that is your chosen event. It's not the paying of the deposit that is scary, it's the dedication of all that is to follow.

I have tipped the scale on my biggest plan to date. It is now taking shape, although far from fully formed. Not one channel, but seven - the equivalent of the Seven Summits climbing challenge and I'm attempting them in a single year. The organisational skills are a trickier current to navigate than whatever the water might throw at me. Across the globe, swirling bits of water await with their currents and tides and fickle weather and wildlife, and yet it is the Herculean task of logistics that daunts me more.

The swims I'm taking on are no mean feat - the English Channel considered the Mount Everest of swims is known for fickle weather, strong tides, shipping and not particularly warm waters; the North or Irish Channel with its sub-14ºC waters with a tendency to rough waters and strong currents; the Strait of Gibraltar, a 10-mile sprint against a relentless side current trying to shove you into the Mediterranean with all manner of legal and illegal shipping whizzing past; the Cook Strait of New Zealand with its rough, cold water with a chance of shark sightings; the Tsugaru Channel in Japan with its language barriers and logistics even before you reach the swift current and wildlife-filled channel; the Molokai Channel in Hawaii, 28 miles of relentless Pacific swells and whirling currents; the Catalina channel that starts on Catalina Island, a protected site for the fact that it has the highest concentration of the most kinds of shark anywhere.

It is a curious thing that drives one to boldly go where people think you're mad. No one has yet attempted what I seek to achieve, but in my addled brain, I think it's just a matter of time. So I have chosen my time. I have staked my claim. Now I need to eat for Britain, train for my life, and learn how to raise capital for my dreams. In my spare time.

Go big or go home, they say.

Details of how to follow French's adventure and how to get involved are on her website bethfrench.co.uk and her crowdfunding campaign.

For additional articles on Beth French, read here (How Beth French Will Attack The Oceans Seven) and here (Beth French Goes For The Calendar Year Oceans Seven).

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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