From Samson to St Agnes

Samson to the left, Bryher to the right and in the middle a couple of crazy zealots!

A beautiful day for a training swim

Heading out to St Agnes

Feeling strong

Sharing the water with the Scillonian

Relax and breathe, relax and breathe

Feeling the effects of the swell now

In line with the Bishop Rock Lighthouse

Kate forges on to St Agnes

We made it!

And this is what seasickness and exhaustion looks like!

Kate Clement and I had arranged to have a long training swim on Sunday, but when Saturday morning came the conditions were too perfect to ignore: there was a light North wind, no sea chop and it was bright and sunny. We both rearranged our weekend work schedule and found ourselves a willing boatman (my son Jamie)  to drive the safety boat and decided that today we ought to crack the stretch of open water between Samson and St Agnes. At 3.3 miles this is the longest leg of the Scilly Swim Challenge 2015 which takes place in 4 weeks time on 5th September. Although Kate and I have both swum further along the shoreline we haven't done this crossing yet. Kate has recently spent a week in Turkey on a Swimtrek holiday so has a lot of swimming under her belt including one open water crossing similar to this so it's good that one of us has this experience to draw on.

As we slipped over the edge of the boat into the shallows of Samson we were both nervous and excited, in fact I think I was nervous and Kate was excited. I was acutely aware of how unprepared I was for not just the swim ahead of us, but also the 11 miles we will have to cover on the day. Kate is an amazing athlete who's taken part in quite a few local triathlons over the years as well as rowing in the ladies gig races including the World Championships where her crew have excelled. Kate's idea of fun is to complete a triathlon when she has a bit of spare time over the weekend! We are great friends and have swum together for years, but I just hope I don't hold her up today. The swim along Samson was in lovely clear shallow water and we were soon heading out through the long thongs of seaweed into the open water towards St Agnes. From being able to see the seabed we traversed into deeper water but thanks to the brilliant sunlight it was filtered with wonderful shafts of sunlight breaking into the depths. It was a dazzling sight and a distraction from the distance we still had to cover. Kate told me later that she had broken the swim down into parts, giving herself smaller goals to achieve before she acknowledged the next. I wasn't so mentally prepared, and found myself completely in the moment, relax and breathe, relax and breathe. As we progressed we hit the ocean's swell which meant we couldn't always see each other in the dips and rises. Kate was forging ahead as I expected, looking strong. I discovered I'm not as good a swimmer as I thought and managed to take on the odd gulp of seawater which meant a stop to cough and splutter. I know I was anxious and knew this was a make or break swim for me.

We were probably about half way across when tiredness and a coughing fit undermined me. I was aware that Kate was having to stop to wait for me and I didn't like holding her back. Perhaps I ought to get out, give up and let her get through this at her own speed? I didn't want to voice this though, as once spoken, I felt the reality would quickly follow. Kate was encouraging, Jamie checking that I was OK. I carried on trying to find the place mentally to strengthen my resolve. St Agnes did seem to be getting nearer, but the swell was a battle and the lifting and dropping motion was beginning to make me feel a bit rough. On stopping to cough again, Kate came to my rescue and lied to me, with the best possible of intentions. She told me the final part of the swim was only the same as one of our regular sessions, "Lovie" she said "it's only the same as New Grimbsy to Appletree left to go now." It was the carrot I needed to have dangled in front of me. I felt reassured that this was within my capabilities, not beyond my grasp after all. Kate forged ahead and I lovingly followed her. Out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean she was my champion and I trusted that she would bring us home. The final swim became automatic, familiar and no longer in my head. My dear, dear friend had pulled me out of myself and my worries and brought me into the water where I just had to swim one stroke after the other. We reached St Agnes within 2 hours and were delighted to be hoisted on board by Jamie. As the photos show it was an extraordinary day, a beautiful crossing and I had no regrets at being dragged along by this amazing swimming buddy of mine. I'm so grateful to her for her encouragement as without her I would have surely given up.

Kate's swim had been an exciting and wonderful adventure where she swam past lolling Razorbills and chatted to Jamie en route, and I do hope that she will document it too. Her take on the same crossing would give quite a different perspective. But that's true of life - two people watching the same event will often describe it in completely different terms. I'm so pleased now to look back and have been able to complete the swim which without Kate's encouragement and Jamie's support I wouldn't have managed. I think that's what you call teamwork.



  1. Wow! I have just read your swim blog with tears in my are amazing and I am really proud to be your big sister. Well done all of you.... what great support from Kate and Jamie, real teamwork indeed.You deserve to manage it on the day but its an astonishing achievement already. Think our gran must have swum the channel after all!!!!!! Sx

    1. What a lovely surprise to hear from you here! I'm pleased to have achieved this swim even if it's all I do. Thank you for being proud - I think we all want to make our family proud xxx

  2. Well done for pushing through and getting there. You should feel very proud and lovely that your friend found a way of giving you that encouraging push to help you.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I'm surely blessed with all the love and support coming my way. Thank you so much xxx


Created by bo design