Saturday, 16 August 2008

I Hit French Water.

Yesterday we met Reg at 9:30 at the harbour. Getting on the boat was an amazing feeling. All this hard work completed, and now it was reality, I was going to swim the English Channel. The ride over to Shakespeare Beach was as smooth as glass. The observer commented how it was like a mill pond. Nearing Shakespeare Beach I saw two other boats with swimmers starting off. That excited me. I wasn't going to be the only one out there trying to swim. Ray (the first mate/Reg's brother) showed me where I was to jump off the boat. I swam to the beach. I tried my best to jump up the beach as quickly as possible in hopes that the pebbles wouldn't hurt my feet as much. Reg sounded a horn on the boat and I dove back into the water. It took a few strokes before it really sunk in. I was REALLY doing it, I was really swimming the English Channel. I began to get into the groove, putting one arm in front of another moving myself forwards towards France. The millpond status definitely didn't stick for very long. The wind had picked up and there were waves, probably about 2-3 feet high. According to the observer the water was 62 degrees when I started. So that felt like a bath tub to me. The water was really clear and I could see about 5-10 feet down. I swam by some patches of seaweed and then saw jellyfish around me. That of course freaked me out. After four hours the wind had not subsided so the waves kept shoving me around. Leore got in to pace. It was kind of scary because they kept wanting me to move closer to the boat, but the boat was pitching around like it was a little toy. At around 7 hours I puked because I had ingested so much salt water. Whilst I was puking I saw the French shoreline. That made me perk up and keep moving forward. By that time pretty much everyone had been sick except for Leore, Shanni, my Dad, Reg and Ray. Even the observer who claimed to never get sea sick got sick. The waves were seriously huge and made it difficult to swim. Sometimes the boat would tip so far it seemed as if it was going to capsize. Leore had been getting in pretty consistently since the 4 hour mark, hour in, hour out. But after awhile I realized she hadn't been in again. I figured she was taking some extra time out, which of course was fine. But apparently when she had wanted to get back in, the pilot said no. I decided not to worry about it. It started to get dark and I switched on my lights. The waves were growing larger by the minute with no sign of slowing down. At ten and half hours my dad told me that the pilot wanted to pull me. Of course, I was like "WHAT?!!" and when he asked me if I wanted to keep going for a bit I said yes. The last half an hour was horrible. I was crying in my goggles and trying to swim as fast as possible despite the waves. At this point it was completely dark, yet I still was not cold. I kept hoping that if I swam faster and kept going I would be able to make it. At my 11 hour feeding they pulled me out. They wouldn't let me keep going. I got onto the boat reluctantly. The ride back was horrible. Since I hadn't taken any seasickness pills, I didn't get seasick whilst in the water,but when on the boat I threw up. I fell asleep inside the cabin in a VERY uncomfortable position. Finally we reached the harbour. Greeted by the stench of fish, I dry heaved onto the loading dock. We all were happy to be on land, except for the fact that it still felt as if we were moving. I went to bed, exhausted and upset.
I was disappointed that I didn't completely finish. But at least I made an attempt. After I mull things over a bit, I'll decide where I want to go next. I may swim it again, and I'll definitely know what to do differently. I may try to swim across Lake Tahoe. But whatever I do I know that I will have my family and friends to support me, which I greatly appreciate. Thank you to everyone for your comments of support, it means a lot to me.

17 comments:

David said...

Congrats on making it so far. I'm super impressed.

Karin said...

Wow, Delia, I'm impressed!

Even though we haven't met, you story really touched me. You have been so corageous and I am relieved to hear that you are back on solid ground again.

What an achievement, even if I understand that there is a touch of disappointment.

I truly believe that you are capable of great things.

Karin Dahlgren from Sweden

HRH♦ PRINCESS KIM OF CHELSEA said...

Delia,

This is no small feat. Awesome job !!

You have to give yourself a big pat on the back. I'm so proud to be your uncle and I know that there is going to be bigger and better things to come for you. And I am sure that you will swim the channel again. You must.
Hope I will be able to support you better and be there.
I hope to see you soon and we can chat on the whole experience.

Love you, Until then,

Kim

michael said...

Considering the wildly adverse conditions, I'm astounded at how well you did in the attempt, and even when I was in my best shape in my early 20s swimming in choppy water would have KILLED me after about 70 minutes. (Actually, probably about 35 mins.) That you can swim that far, for that long, under 2-3 foot wavy conditions? Seriously: it boggles my mind!

So sorry Neptune or Fortune wasn't kinder, but I am very impressed with you and your attempt, Delia. It's inspiring!

And oh yea: what an expressive writer you are! Thanks for keeping us in touch and giving the feel of the place and overall situation. I found your endeavor more interesting than the Olympics.

Love to you and all the other Salomons and looking forward to seeing you all again (and Biscuit is fine and sez hey),

-Michael

Allen L said...

Hi, Delia! Great swim for the distance you completed! 10+ hours in the English Channel! Yikes, I can't even do half of that! :-)

Good work too, Leore!

You two rock! See you again in the SF Bay soon.

--Allen

Brenda said...

Hello Delia!
Wow! What a ruff swim. I am so impressed. YOU were amazing to keep going in those conditions. YOU ROCK! Can't wait to see you and give you a hug. CONGRATULATIONS!
Love, Brenda
Hello to Leore also!

lserebin said...

A heroic swim Delia! You have made us all so proud!!

Lisa

Annette said...

Hi Delia,
It sounds like you had bad luck with the weather but made a truely heroic effort to overcome it! It sounds like it is clear that the decision to pull you out was wise and not one you could have made yourself (I understand from my own experiences). Looking forward to seeing you back home to hear all about your wjole familiy's effort.
Annette

nancytuck said...

Hey Delia - I can't tell you how many times I've checked your blog for this update. We are relieved to hear from you - thrilled you're safe and well, totally swept away by your incredible writing, and at a loss for words on your achievement. What you did is unimaginable to us. You're a winner, kid! Sincerely, Nancy Hi Delia - It's Natalie. I'm disapointed too that you didnt swim the whole thing. But i am also happy you are safe and not sick on land. I think you are a really brave person to go out there and try. Im on a swim team and i get freaked out when seaweed wrapes around my ancles. Awsome job i think you did great. sincerley,
Natalie

Margaret said...

Delia!!!!
Making the distance is only part of this experience - I know that you are disappointed now but you set yourself up for a challenge and followed through in such an impressive way. There are three things that need to be in your favor to accomplish such a huge feat - your spirit, your body and the Channel. You only have control over the first two of those and you proved that you made the distance with unmatched spirit and a well trained body. That is what really matters and I am soooo impressed. If the Channel ever decides to cooperate with you I have no doubt that you would make it across. Congratulations on such a wonderful accomplishment from all the Simon-Hahns!

esl support said...

hi delia--you did an INCREDIBLE job under such difficult conditions--congratulations on hitting french water! we're so proud of you!

sending big hugs to all of you and look forward to your homecoming.

xo,

maw and mats

tom_w said...

Hi Delia,

I can't thank you enough for taking us all along for what has been a memorable ride. Listening to you talk before leaving and then reading your blog throughout your trip has made us all feel that we were right there with you. Almost like we were doing it ourselves. You've given us a tremendous gift by including all of us in your adventure.

Mother nature will always have the power to be bigger than us when she wants to be. You are, however, in heart, mind and soul much bigger than the English Channel. Of this I am convinced.

Hope to see you in the bay when you get back.

Tom

Parker said...

Wow! I'm so impressed. Your blog made me nervous. Hold your head up high.
-Mr. Parker

Annie L. said...

Delia-

Sorry we haven't written sooner, but we wanted to add our congrats on your accomplishments! It's been fun to read your postings and see your pictures. I can't believe how much you're all growing! (Doesn't that sound like an aunt?:)We're very proud of you and look forward to whatever adventure you choose to take on next.

Keep Swimming!

Aunt Linda, Uncle Greg, Lindsey, Peter & Annie

Sister Sue said...

delia,

as far as I am concerned, you did make it ....you planned, you trained, you got there, you made it to french waters, you faced the elements and exceeded your body's limitations....you can do anything, you have surpassed any limitations, you can do anything you set your mind to, whether you return for another try, or not, I am confident you will achieve great things in life...

congratulations on a heroic effort!

Sister Sue

speedy said...

Delia,
You go girl!! What a job you did, I have been wondering how it went for you and I'm glad I found the info. The whole Naylor family thinks you did awesome and gave it more than your all, we are greatly impressed. You are definitely capable of great things, keep it up!!
Cheers from the Midwest,
Emily and the boys

Robert said...

Dear Delia,

You've not only managed to "hit French water" but you've hooked dozens of people into an amazing story of courage and dedication. Great swim and great writing.