Three Brave Swakopmunders Cross English Channel over Weekend

namib times 1-10-15

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“Strokes for Earth  – an initiative to raise awareness for our beaches and the protection of our shoreline.”

The Strokes For Earth -TEAM consists of Ulla Gossow-Buttner, Bobby Jo Bassingthwaighte, and Sandra le Roux.

They call themselves “3 ordinary women taking on an extraordinary task of swimming across the English Channel AND back again… A distance no less than 90kms and at least 30 hours in the water.” But it is clear that they are extraordinary.

They swam to raise the awareness, and although they could not do the Back leg – they have conquered the Channel in a Big Way.

The team posted on their Facebook early Sunday morning, after their successful crossing from Britian to France,  “It’s 3:38am. Will post tomorrow about why we couldn’t turn and swim back “

Yesterday they shared their report …

“Waiting this week has been highly frustrating and nerves were raw. The weather forecast is just that, a forecast but seldom accurate enough for swimming purposes.

A single crossing needs a 12 hour window because that’s the anticipated crossing time and we needed double that.

We lost our slot so were making plans to cancel and change flights but we also had to put a cap on how long we could hang around and wait.strokes for earth 11947597_1626180870997019_8262624941288386439_n

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We decided Friday the 4th September was our cap but the forecast to Friday was bleak. Our time slot 26-28 August never gave a clear 24hour window and we had a swimmer booked the day after us.

The weather improved on his day but only for 12 hours. For next week it looked worse. Fortunately for us he gave up his slot the night before but despite trying to call us Fred could not get through (network issues) so he called at 7:15am to say we should be ready at 9am. It was a frantic scramble.

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The day started ‘swimmable’ but never flat but we had to take what we could knowing that it was this or nothing. Not once could we get into any rhythm, we were chucked around all over the show and the boat rolled excessively in the swell.

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You could see the other side of the boat from the water when it rolled so much.

Despite the weather we progressed well but from the start we knew we were gambling on a 2 way… we had serious discussions with both Fred and Harry about the forecast and they confirmed that if the night would have been a booked swim slot then they would have told that swimmer to hang on. 20 knots of wind were forecast for the return leg and that is still manageable in the day time but the night brings a whole bunch of other elements and risks.

Once our prop nearly got tangled in broken off fish nets (that would spell disaster).

It was full moon but the weather built up and we were in relative darkness with just glow sticks to light up the swimmer and the side of the boat. It takes some mental strength to swim in that knowing there are possible nets, jelly fish, ropes, floating debris and funny seaweed to swim into.

We seriously weighed up everything. Do we stop at a successful one way or turn and battle and maybe make a two way but the price of that was a N$50 000 gamble (the additional cost of the second leg). The biggest factor was safety and that made it an easy decision in the end.

I’m (we’re) not disappointed one bit. There are no set answers when dealing with the elements and decisions need to be made as you go and as things unfold. Today I still feel that we made the right decision.

After all… this swim was to draw attention to our greater cause which is to protect our beaches and I think we drew more than enough attention.

So don’t stop following us just because the swim is over… there’s more to life than personal achievement. We want to continue swimming off clean beaches and so our Strokes for Earth campaign continues…

We never imagined the support throughout our swim and it’s just a pity we lost reception half way across. 1 000 thank you’s to those who followed us and kept each other entertained.”

For the full report see the namib times facebook page.

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