Struggling to remove my body from the comfort of my warm bed, I'm grateful for packing my Ugg boots to keep me warm. Slipping my cold feet into their woolly embrace, I'm reminded of home. A combination of jet lag and an evening call with my boat pilot, Andy King, meant a restless night. "It looks like the 12th for your swim, but lets chat again tomorrow," continued to reverberate through my mind. Today is the 11th. Cooking myself a proper carbohydrate and protein rich English breakfast in honor of my heritage – baked beans and eggs – I head out for the morning to run a few more errands.
Everything is coming together remarkably well, notably my driving, though only after the early morning assistance of an elderly campervan resident to put the gear in reverse. Withdrawing the final and considerable amount of money owed for my swim, the bank teller informs me that it's much cheaper to travel to France by ferry. I smile and simply hope to be able to return to my car without getting jumped. Receiving the thick envelop of cash, my hands shake as a surge of adrenalin rushes through my body. Stashing the money as discretely as possible in my handbag, soon I am safely in the car with the doors locked. Probably an overreaction but this is an emotional time.
Back at Varne Ridge, my stomach is a contorted bundle of nerves and excitement; I busy myself with more tasks. With my carbohydrate feed already prepared, I focus my attention on smaller, yet equally important tasks. I check and re-check the contents of my swim kit: swimsuit, earplugs, New Zealand swim cap, blinky lights (high visibility flashing lights attached to my goggles and swimsuit so my crew can see me clearly in the water), glow sticks, lanolin (for chafing), clear goggles, tinted goggles - the checklist is long. My Bag of Tricks, reserved for anticipated tough moments during the swim, contains a collection of sugar-rich childhood treats from New Zealand and is now practically alphabetized.
I am surrounded by piles of equipment, which are spread across the carpet of my caravan. Carefully selected plastic bottles for my feeds are grouped together, to which I attach glow sticks, for swimming in the dark. Swim jacket, whiteboard (so my crew can write messages of support for me during my swim), rope for my feeding bottles are sorted. I marvel at the amount of gear required for a minimalist sport where your body is the vessel that carries you across the Channel, protected only by a lyrca swimsuit, silicone swim cap, earplugs and goggles.
At long last, I am ready to swim at a moment's notice. With little left to worry about, I turn my attention to the fact that everything is going so smoothly. It's too good to be true. Nervous thoughts give way to absolute fear that I have somehow possibly jinxed my swim.