Well here we are with one year to go and since my last blog entry (apologies for the delay), a lot has happened. I hope you are all keeping well and recovering in these unusual and challenging times.
Training is going well and I am at about a 50% workload of swim & gym for what will be needed next year. In real terms, 50-60km swimming per week; up to 30km running per week and three-gym sets. Driving this independently seems to be working well and diet-wise, still eating a lot at 3,000 calories per day. Since we last spoke, I have even managed to get in some swim sessions in English coastal waters. Okay, not really replicating at all what I need for The Atlantic Ocean: heat and swells, storms & wildlife, but still, salt exposure, distance, current, and sadly tide (the latter of which you do not experience in open Ocean - but makes for a good workout) and helping while stuck in the UK training. How I long for the heat and Ocean...
Since I last wrote, we have supported Sir Ran's Antigua hospice with Bedsheet and Pillow Case donations, attended Portland Boat Week with Boatfolk, and met some great Mermaids, and Boatfolk kindly hosted me at The Southampton Boatshow 2021, too. Thanks, Dom, Paul, and Mr. P, and the entire Boatfolk family who have so warmly welcomed me this year. I have also had the pleasure of meeting Oli and his family and friends following his record-breaking Isle of Wight swim - great people. Roy of Clean Jurrasic Coast too; keep up the amazing work guys, more vital than ever, cleaning our coasts and oceans. We all have a part to play - my beach clean with the team in August, cleared 32kg alone from a 600m patch of shoreline. Multiply that up, and it will show how bad our UK shores truly are; which only spells disaster for our ocean and their viability, our lifeline, in future unless we all act now - link up with Ocean Generation to help.
Expedition-wise, this continues to be a challenge to complete what we need, to ensure the swim goes smoothly from Senegal, October 2022. On this note, it was lovely to meet the One Ocean Crew due to row The Atlantic with Talisker this November. A truly epic team of ladies who will smash the row, I am certain, and raise a lot for their charity. As few will understand, the One Ocean Crew also knows how it is to struggle to fund an expedition and it was refreshing to hear this as from my STBB2 side, the ups and the downs continue.
Sadly, it makes life harder than it needs to be and even makes you question yourself and why you are doing a world-first for charity, especially when training hard and feeling the pain but the support we have to date from many individuals, children, and sponsors, spurs me on; sadly, we do require financial support to continue too - not a lot, but vital elements are required. Despite the success of landing new sponsors with equipment such as St Johns Ambulance and Wells Offshore Pharmaceuticals and an announcement of new major equipment swim sponsor in Spring 2022, comes the flip side of struggling to source financial support for our cash budgets elements such as vessel fuel and flights. Worse, in the past 3-months, being let down by sponsors who either cannot continue or choose not to. Few realize the huge impact these actions have on expeditions such as ours and yes, I am whining, but it makes it near impossible to continue in preparation or indeed, leads to safety elements missing which unless recovered in the coming months, will stop the swim before it even starts - we cannot afford to make errors. After all, the swim is doable, given the right preparation and support. There is time, however, and I am certain we will manage to source what is required to complete our budget and indeed, the world-first swim. In hard times we have to stay positive. What other choice is there?
With all that said, however, and all being well in Spring 2022 with a vessel now secured, we will be announcing a brand new headline swim sponsor for my swim equipment; will launch to the UK media campaign in Spring 2022; start research physiology, and initiate our charity campaign with Bliss UK. Truly exciting times, we simply need a little more luck and funding support and donations to make all the pain of training and what is to come in October 2022 worth it, both to complete the swim but more importantly, to raise vital funds for our charities, conduct world-changing research and to inspire the next generations.
Stay tuned for more updates. Together, we will achieve the extraordinary. Stay safe: Get jabbed and wear a mask - Please!