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The Three Amigos Around Island swim for “Grace Crocker Charity Challenge” Saturday 1st August 2015

Sea Temperature 17.2

The Swimmers were:-
Toni Bucholz- the nagger
Craig Swart – the silent assassin
Simon Haircut O’Donoghue- the talker

In support:-

Bateau Deux – RIB skippered by Ralph Bucholz
In attendance were Euan Dangerfield & Dee Richards of the Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club.
Fish Head – RIB skippered by Gavin Chittingdon
In attendance were Cameron Swart & Wendy Trehiou of the Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club.
Copisetic – RIB skippered by Gary Hill
In attendance were Darin Edwards and Sally Minty Gravett of the Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club.

The Early Start

Up at 4.15 for a 5am meet up with all the teams at La Collette Marina. Weather was perfect and boats all had lights on albeit it was light enough to see. As I brought my boat over I could see the Bucholzs arriving through the harbour mouth and after mooring up and a few quick texts I could see that everybody had arrived including my skipper whom I had only spoken to the previous morning and can be late sometimes! Steve Pallett on board Lionheart had already left harbour and was actually 15mins ahead of us kicking off our swim. We had filled all the Harbour office forms in rather late the previous evening and it had transpired that the “overnite” ferry was due in at 6am and the Harbour office really wanted us out of the small roads by 5.45am so we were all somewhat in a hurry. Also quickly met David Coleman a New Zealander and escorted by the Club boat doing his first Round Island swim. We motored out quickly putting as much Vaseline as possible around arms, necks and between legs, followed by factor 50 then some anti itch cream around face and arms. Quickly we radioed in to Jersey Radio albeit they couldn’t seem to read our signal too well. As we motored into position at the end of Elizabeth Castle some poor chap was trying to fish off the end and we were none to helpful with all the commotion; one of his lines even nearly caught on our boat. The Kiwi David Coleman is off, Craig is already in the water and I’m still trying to apply anti mist to my googles without getting any Vaseline or suncream on the lens. Not easy! Then Toni is in and everyone is shouting at me to get a move on. In my haste I do a wacky dive off the boat and lose my googles brilliant start -that’s it I’m on the wall and we kick off at 5.45 am.

The beginning swimming in front of the Dogs Nest.

The Rocky South Coast
As always I can tell we are going too fast (comes from too much pool swimming) but heh ho the water is flat and does not feel too cold at all and we have a nice rhythm going. The sad news is there are “jellies” everywhere but after about 15 minutes I have not been stung and they seem somewhat less numerous as we pass the Dogs Nest and straighten up for Green Island. I quickly poke my head up and shout my glee to the others whom indicate they have been stung but are still smiling massively. This task we have set ourselves is finally underway and the start was far too hectic to stress and now we are cruising through this beautiful flat sea and finally starting this journey. After an hour we stop for our first feed just off Green Island. We have overtaken our fellow swimmers but I have now been stung twice but they are not bothering me the joy of the moment is just too great.

Just before we arrive at La Rocque harbour a whole load of SUP boarders go zooming past. I know Andre Le Geyt & Chester are there but they are somewhat further out so we cannot shout encouragement but they are tanking along and are soon out of sight. Suddenly a little dinghy pops out to the Bucholzs boat and ties alongside. I don’t realise then but its Chris Baglin another supporter. Then we zoom past the harbour and there are a few friends waving from the harbour wall so I give some exaggerated waves in my stroke and then the tide grabs us and the water gets shallow and we just zoom past rocks and we are swept into Grouville Bay.

East Coast
This time I take longer in my feed than the others and before I know it Toni has whacked on the speed and I’m a quarter of a mile behind them; really had to get my speed going and after 25 minutes we are together again.
The other obstacle reported by harbours was that there was a ferry going to Carteret and heh ho just as we arrive off Gorey Harbour the ferry is just going out. I stare at the ferry longingly a friend had advised that he was going to lunch in Carteret cor that would be nice. We settle on our third feed and I have some banana and one of those High 5 jells; not quite as good as lunch in Carteret! Then we are off and Toni is once again hitting pace and before we know it we are in the choppy waters off St Catherines. I don’t get sea sick but then aghhhhh that jell really does not sit well. I stop in the water and belch and really don’t feel well at all. I see a concerned look from the others but they have to keep crackin on. In all my dithering I get taken further out than the others. Sally changes my feed and before I know it I’m feeling fine and crackin on the speed.

Chasing the others after feeding too long whom are just to my right.
North Coast
Now that was my first wobble but now I’m cruisin along. We stop for another feed and yiphee I have overtaken the others. Some manoeuvring from Sally and because I was in the rip for longer I’m further out and getting more of the tide. Ouch another jelly sting on the nose and I notice there are starting to be more jellies again. Another boat arrives this time its Francis Clayton looking at me strangely as he cannot believe I have made it this far! We are now roughly half way and time for another feed. I cannot believe we are this far already, I wonder where our running colleagues are as I can clearly see Plemont but my lead is diminishing as I have to swim further in to compensate for catching the tide earlier. This is a long slog and just as we arrive at Plemont Craig catches me and powers past with a big grin. I stop for a feed and once again I get pushed further out than the others.

(Around Grosnez. Craig ahead and Toni across from me).
West Coast
Corbiere shimmers in the distance and we stop for another feed. The tides have slowed and we don’t seem to be making much progress. Toni & Craig are ahead of me on the inside. I quickly see the two other boats a mile or so behind wow they are catching too. Gary & Darin look around in alarm as I wimper in pain. No its not a jelly but just really severe cramp like I have never felt before. Sally gives me some banana and a milky way and tells me to get a move on. I whine at Gary & Darin that I want the boat behind me as I don’t want to be lifting my head and thus dropping my feet. OK I have reached a low point. Start feeling the cold somewhat too. Another jelly sting and my left shoulder is pinching. Another hour and we are still in St Ouens Bay time for another feed.

Corbiere – The end in Sight
We near Corbiere and I can feel the tide. I vaguely sense the shouts and waves from the headland but am more focussed on not getting sea sick and not drinking some sea water so I keep my head down and then we are past and on the home run. Suddenly there are shouts and laughter and I look up and there is the nutter Fergie on a sup board taking pictures of us individually as we paddle on past. As we swim on I ‘m told we need two more feeds and off La Moye we stop for a feed. Time for some Ibrufen washed down with a cuppa tea as shoulder is well sore. I can see Toni & Craig well their boats anyway, Toni half mile ahead and Craig another half mile again. I know I can finish now and I need to get some speed in as I also have a runner to beat. Plus I need to shake this cold feeling.

St Aubins Bay and the Finish
The tide is pushing hard as we Slip past Portelet and I get my last feed of coffee with some HI5 sprinkled in.
To hit the end of the breakwater on Elizabeth Castle, you have to avoid the tide sweeping you either into St Aubins Bay or straight past the end of the breakwater. Sally is standing at the front pointing the direction and we are flying along. I can hear the roar of people on Noirmont and the smiles on the boat tell me its all going well. As we get the right position, Sally’s arm flys down and its time to dig deep and go for it I can see Toni just in front and I see her crew smiling down as we just fly past. I hear some mumbled message about being Haircut 100 and slowing down but the brakes are off. Still seems ages to get to the breakwater and its only then that I realise that Craig has slipped too far into the bay but heh we did it.
We completed the swim all within three minutes of each other with the last one coming in at 10.44hrs and we became the 99th/100 & 101 persons to swim around Jersey. Aidan the runner beat us by 50 minutes and was apparently neck a neck in St Ouens Bay.
We trained for six months for this and we had major panic attacks. When we initially started in the sea in early May we could not even hold a cup of tea after 30 minutes in the water. We gradually became more accustomed and we persevered. We had a great day and we will hold this unique memory forever.

The Important Bit
A big thank you to all the support teams! From a swimmers perspective , these are the people who keep you going and make the whole thing possible. Thanks you all so much.
And even bigger thank you is to all of you who made this swim worthwhile by pledging your donations to The Grace Crocker Foundation. £10,000 and still counting.

Many thanks to all of you. Next year!!!! We will probably do some mad swim but we will continue with the Grace Crocker Charity Challenge. Canoe, Swim, relay Swim, run watch this space.


Newspaper coverage – click to enlarge