It is now almost 4 weeks since my swim. It feels like another place, another world. I have been gradually sliding into the normality of working life, the things that I did to be able to swim the English Channel. Working long hours in all weather, being hungry and not wanting to carry on, but knowing it was good mental preparation and training for the Channel. I am the same person as before, its just that I concentrated my time, effort and energy into one goal, to successfully swim from England to France.


Ever since I was a little boy I have wanted to swim the English Channel. I remember watching a news report on the telly, showing footage of a lady who had swum a sea. I cant remember which sea she had swum, but I can remember that she clambered out onto rocks with a stained red face having been stung by jelly fish. She looked as though this experience had almost killed her, but she showed a wonderful look of something beyond my comprehension at the time. Of making it. She had overcome, or should that be endured, a sea that would have swallowed most. A sea which is much safer if you are viewing it from the comfort of your armchair, or sofa, via television. She had bared her soul and her soul was shining. I asked my Dad why she had done it? He said because she wanted to. This blew my mind.


I had always found a pool, or when by the coast a sea, and swam. I believed that at some point I would go for swimming the Channel, and that in the meantime I should 'keep my eye in.' I had swum for a club for a year or so when a young teenager, encouraged by my Mother who was a keen club swimmer. I am grateful for this foothold on swimming, but that wasnt my passion. I knew my calling lay elsewhere, beyond the warmth and security of the local swimming pool. Somewhere without railings and steps, flags above and lines below. Although I am grateful for every minute, and without every minute I would not have got there.


From being a dream I held inside, and dormantly entertained, as if it was ok to do at a later date and could be filed under 'put off,' to openly saying "Im going to swim the English Channel." That is a big step, as they say the first one is the hardest to take. Two things made me commit to swimming the Channel. I had watched a film called 'The Fastest Indian' and read a book 'Swimming to Antarctica' by Lynne Cox. Both of which stirred something deep inside of me, and I knew I had to do it, I couldnt hold it in any longer, "I am going to swim the English Channel!"

After the first step, and coming out as a confirmed slightly mental person ie. one that wants to swim for hours in cold water, it snowballs. People see the vision, the belief and the dream coming to life in your eyes, and they want to help. "You could do can use my land to swim from, I know someone who has swum the Channel...I know a great swim coach..." If you have something you want to do with a passion, commit to doing it and see how truly wonderful people are. I am grateful beyond words for every person who has been a part of my journey. Everything that has happened in my life has lead me to this point in time, thank you. I hope I have affected people's lives in a positive way too. I ended up sending an email to the PR manager of Lynne Cox and we have spoken via email and facebook. Lynne gave me encouragement and belief that brought tears to my eyes, and does now. To have a worldwide heroine tell you that she thinks what you are doing is wonderful, to swim and raise money for magpas to say thank you for your life. When you are touched like this it makes you bullet proof. I knew I would do it then, nothing was going to stop me.


I trained in pools, had my stroke analysed and improved by my coach, Ed Williams. Adapted and acclimatised to swimming in cold water. This went on for ten months. Visiting Dover harbour at weekends. Swimming Lake Connniston then Lake Windemere. Scrimping and saving to afford all of the travel and accommodation costs, the pilot boat. If you are heading to achieve a dream then all costs are worth it.


I set off on the 1st July 2010 at around 2pm in glorious sunshine. I was living my dream, it was unreal. surreal. I loved every moment for about three hours. At my three hour break the Captain, Eric, said that we were entering the shipping zone, and he would have been a happy bunny if we had done that in 4. I knew I had to pace myself and not get carried away. By then it was too late. I had been ill three weeks before with a stomach bug caught from the river. I had overtrained, but my supreme confidence would keep me going. I kept going, but exhaustion and the cold got into me. To the point that there were no lights on in my head, just one little night light, it said "keep going." I kept going, but was not with it and was not swimming efficiently enough to make progress. One little night light was not enough to make it to France. It was not my day, and after around eight and a half hours and fourteen miles the Captain pulled the plug on the swim. It was over. I was truly gutted. That night I cried myself to sleep, but sleep never came. However I did live to swim another day.


I thought I knew enough that had not been right on my swim, enough things to change so as to give my next swim a good chance.


Swimming the Channel is a big thing and takes time, money, commitment, determination, belief and physical fitness amongst other qualities. These are not always readily available. In 2011 I did a Channel relay swim in a six person team. This is less demanding on each individual swimmer, but it is certainly a challenge. To be out of the water and on a boat for five hours between swims, then be enthusiastic for your hour is not to be sniffed at. This went well, mainly in beautiful sunshine, until it got to the night time and it was less appealing for most as they re entered the water. I was lucky enough to be the person swimming the final leg. I was told to push it for the final hour, and I pushed it as much as I could, waiting for the inflatable dinghy to come next to me to guide me into the shallows. It seemed to take forever to come, and I thought the hour would be up and we would have to change again. Eventually the dinghy came next to me and I knew we were close. I continued to sprint as much as I could. The lights of the town started to get closer and eventually the first mate said "ok Lloyd now swim the last twenty metres." What a relief to hear! I swam in and held onto a dark boulder in the pitch black of night. Walked over it to another one so as to be completely out of the water, apart from the waves coming over me, and shouted "OK." I was relieved to have finished what felt like the longest sprint of my life. The first mate joked that I should put a pebble down my speedo's then to swim back to him. The smallest 'pebbles' at that stretch of beach were half the size of me and weighed four times as much as I did. It was a great team spirit, and a great experience.


Through the winter of 2011 I went to social swims, open water (cold water) swims. I wanted to 'keep my eye in,' so that as and when I did return to training for the Channel I would be readily acclimatised to the temperatures necessary. I did not pool swim or have coached sessions, I did not feel like it. I was not in training and the shorter swims in the river would be enough to keep ticking over. I knew that as and when I did commit to another solo swim I would give myself at least a year to train and be ready.


On the first of April 2012 I recieved a group email saying that a Channel slot was being generously offered to anyone who would like to swim the Channel but due to the financial climate would not be able to afford to do so this year. I applied. After some correspondance James told me that the swim slot for August 2012 was mine!!! Oh my God!! What an amazing gift!! That gave me four months to train and be ready to swim the English Channel.


In some ways I had a headstart as I had completed some open water swims, and had my experience of the English Channel. In other ways I was on the backfoot. I had not put in the countless hours and miles of pool swimming that is generally believed to be a staple part of the training programme of a successful Channel swimmer. I had to make a training programme that would push me enough to be ready in four months, but not so much as to make me run down, ill, not 100% by the time I came to swim.


This was a big challenge in itself. I had the scars gained from overtraining in conjunction with my physical job and being ill just before my last attempt. I could not do that again. I built up my training swims in Dover harbour. I missed the odd weekend due to feeling that I needed to rest due to my overall lifestyle. On my last attempt I had swum at Dover Saturday and Sunday every opportunity, not so this time. I could not risk starting in anything less than 100% health. I even had 'discussions' with Freda Streeter, known as the 'General.' Stating my case and that I was not shirking training but had to look at the whole picture. It was not easy to make such a training plan, or be head strong enough to stick to my guns and do what I thought was right for me, but I did it. I did not know if it would work, I would only truly know that at the end of the swim, successful or otherwise. Of course I aimed for success, but I knew that a four month training programme was a big ask in anyones book.


I gathered my support crew together, Helen as leader, Gemma and Tindi. Helen I knew through swimming, and I knew that she was readily able to speak her mind and tell it how it is. I needed this. Tindi is a friend from school who had helped me through massage and discussing my life and training in comparison to her marathon training and running. Gemma, my girlfriend, said at first that she did not want to go, then changed her mind and became part of my crew. We had a couple of crew meetings and went through as much as we could. I was confident that the crew would fit in together and ask enough questions so as to be ready on the day. They may not have known everything but as long as they knew enough and were ready and able to think on their feet, communicate and adapt they would be fine. James who had generously donated the pilot boat booking said he wanted to be on the boat too. We had not met him at this stage, but that would add invaluable experience. James and I planned to meet on Dover beach during a training swim so as to know each other before the day of the swim.


I did get to meet James, he seemed a very intelligent and friendly person. He said that the temperature of the water would be fine, no problem. This had been a concern as he had not swum since his Channel swim some three years before.

As the time came up to my swim window I booked the accomodation. A very quaint cottage in the village of St Margaret at Cliffe. I made the payment on the Monday and we booked in on the Wednesday. All of this time I was nervous. Trying to keep a level head. I remember a programme with Gloria Hunniford where she said that if you see a white feather it meant you were being watched over by someone who loves you. A few days before going to Dover I had been walking over a bridge and a white feather floated along the floor at the same speed as me for some metres. It kept going as I walked. I was quite touched by this and took it as a good sign. You may think this is ridiculous, but when you are about to take on a challenge which is great, and has already almost killed you before you are sensitive to any sign. I appreciated this one.


James had started to show signs that his family committments may make coming on the boat difficult. I said that his generous gift of the swim was amazing and that I would cherish it and give it my everything. Him being on the boat would be a welcome bonus but if he couldnt make it I would understand. Eventually James said that he would not be able to make it. A friend of mine through swimming, Gary, had sent me a text saying that he remembered me offering him to crew in May and that he was trying to get the highest strength sea sickness pills from his doctor. I thought he was joking, but no, he did indeed get the highest strength pills known to man and came down to Dover to be part of my support crew. This was a welcome addition as he was a great calming influence and also meant that the imbalance of sexes had been restored. Everything was a balance, and everything that could help was a welcome step in the right direction.


Dover was an enjoyable time, with some stress and build up. A wonderful time spent with my crew and luckilly two other friends from the area, St Neots, were also swimming at that time. We met up with John Creek and Bryn Dymott and their crews for swims and pub meals then a bbq the day before my swim. That night I watched some of the closing ceremony to the Olympics, and took with me the inspiration shown by the athletes. Their courage and determination, all of the obstacles they had overcome to be able to be there. I understood, as I had had obstacles in my life that I had lived through and overcome to be at that moment in time. Everything that had been part of my life had lead me to that point in time, good or bad. I went to bed.


The alarm went off at two thirty after not sleeping a wink. The kind of time when if I were still a student I would have gone back to sleep and missed the day (thats where it went wrong! :-) but today was not a day for missing. It wasnt a day for sleeping through, something big was happening today. I was meeting my destiny. The outcome would only be known at the end of the day.


During a crew meeting some weeks before I had made up some role play situations, I had two envelopes. One marked 'situation' and the other marked 'character' with a smilie face on it. I had found them in my bag when we unpacked at the cottage. I stood up the envelope marked character against a mug on my bedside cabinet. I knew that this was a time for character, and that I would need it in bag fulls to get through this. I debated whether to take the envelope with me on the boat, but I could not have it with me in person, down my trunks. I would have my character with me, I have always had it from birth, it comes from my parents and my experiences in life. The envelope was a good reminder, but I did not need the envelope to bring me character or luck. I would do that for myself. I left the envelope on the side, knowing that I would see it when I got back whatever the result. I wanted the result to be successful so that I could see the envelope and know that I had proved myself.


We loaded the pre arranged boxes of supplies for the swimmer and crew into the back of my van. My trusted works van had done me proud, and still does. This was the second Channel attempt she had ferried me, my crew and gear to and from. I did not carry anything heavy, after hearing of a pitiful story of a swimmer injuring his shoulder when taking his bags onto the boat. Imagine that! All of your, and your team's, efforts wasted at the last minute...


We set off for the harbour, with Gary on his motorbike, and arrived just before 4am. Gary and I walked up the steps to the harbour master's office for the 24hr parking ticket. I quickly had to ask for the toilet door code and pay another visit, I had lost count how many but you could say I had great anticipation!


We took some team photos by the iconic Dover harbour sign. The time was nigh, I had my picture taken and knew that what was about to happen was about to happen. Like living a dream or a film sequence. The sequence had started and I was there for the ride. I just had to do my everything, believe in my crew, keep going and not counting any exterior influences I would make it, we would make it.

The boat came into harbour, we met the captain and crew and loaded the boat. Again conscious of not getting a last minute injury. There was another boat there about to go out, I didnt know the person, but wished them all the best in passing, and concentrated on my own future. We set off in the boat, the captain Neil taking us to Shakespeare's Beach, just on the other side of the harbour wall, not long at all! Yikes! Almost as soon as we set off Neil said "five minutes" so it was time to get undressed and ready. In the warmth of the boat's cabin I stripped off for Gemma to cover me in sudocream and vaseline. I made sure that my hands, hat and goggles werent affected by the gunk that would help to lubricate my moving parts, and possibly help to keep some cold out... I cant remember who turned on the electronic green lights on the back of my cap and trunks, I think it was the captain, Neil. Things are starting to get surreal now and its either get in the water and get cooled off so as to get on with it...or stay on the boat and be overwhelmed and have a melt down.


I stepped off the back of the boat and was relieved to feel the freshness of the sea. 17.5C. That changed later on but was great at the time, I needed it. I swam to the shore, where there was a bright light and the silhouette of people standing on the beach. There was another swimmer that some people had gone to see off, but they graciously cheered for me as well. Then I heard Bryn, Lynda and Sarah shouting for me. They are good friends I have met through swimming, it was great to hear them shouting good luck messages to me. I shouted out something like "I love you" and turned back to the water as the ship's horn sounded the start of the swim.


I swam back to the companionship of the boat, Suva, turned and waved one last time to the generous cheerers on the beach and set off. It was a quarter to five in the morning and still dark. The bright lights of the boat were my focus. We swam out through the harbour entrance, its lights denoting the start of the sea. I was pacing myself to complete a job, unlike my previous attempt where I started in brilliant sunshine and a hugely enthusiastic heightened pace. Aim high and shoot low, keep some in reserve was my feeling.


The water felt cool, and I thought to myself "ignore this, you have swum in much colder and dont let anything negative start to grow in your mind, it will be sunrise soon. Swim to sunrise." So I swam on, fairly happily. The swim seemed to go in stages. The first was the beginning, with anticipation and lots of pent up energy that I knew I had to hold in and release slowly. My shoulder had given me a niggling pain a couple of times in the weeks before the swim, which was a mixture of work and training, and I knew to push it could be the end of the swim. We had practiced the feeds, I had been particularly demanding during the practices, as I wanted as many problems and questions to be faced then so the crew would be experienced by the time it was the real thing. Now it was the real thing and the crew did fantastically. They had problems to overcome like sea sickness which affected all, but Helen, in varying degrees. They worked as a team and overcame their problems, no worries, big thanks.


Whilst swimming my stroke rate was constant 56 strokes per minute, until later. When I thought of things, people, situations, feelings that inspired me I had to breath out really forcefully so that I didn't cry. I was so full of wonderful feelings that I had to turn out of the water more as I felt I was breathing so hard I did not want to risk taking in water. Sometimes I would calm down again and return to only just bringing my mouth out of the water. I tried to stay calm at all times. Before the swim people had said to envisage myself walking up from the waves onto the sandy beach of French soil. I said that I had done that before, and this time I would instead envisage breathing and looking up to the boat next to me. Feeling safe. Feeling relaxed. Feeling like I can carry on for as long as it takes. Thats what I did. As long as I could do that I would be making progress and would make it to France to walk up the beach. I did not want to enjoy the last part in my imagination without coming to terms with the exertion that would lead to the final moment. One was necessary for the other, in my opinion.


Everything went swimmingly...boom boom, until about halfway. I started to feel the cold. I kept going at my pace, I did not tell the crew, I did not want any negativitey, anywhere. I put the thoughts out of my mind and continued at the steady pace that would get me there without flaring my shoulder injury. I was sure I would be able to stay warm enough as long as I kept swimming. During the breaks at that stage (every half hour then) I did ask a couple of times if we were making progress, of course I was told that yes we were and to keep up the good work. I knew that my crew would have said this even if we were going backwards, more or less. I asked for my drink to be hotter, they were having trouble as the flasks we had taken had now run out and the kettle was taking a long time to boil, but they soldiered on. Filling up the kettle just after each feed for the next one.


I remembered a posting that a friend, Nick, had put on facebook. It said that pain is weakness leaving your body, embrace it. I remember thinking that I was lucky as I had a lot of weakness leaving my body. This was character, and I thanked my parents.


I started to add up the feeds, and to look at the sun in the sky to gauge an idea of what time it was. My crew would not have told me, and I would not have asked, but your mind does wander in the sea. I calculated that if I was going to take 16 hours in total then I should be about half way, that meant I had about 8 hours to go, and about 16 feeds. At the thought of 16 more feeds my brain suddenly went boing and a spring metaphorically went flying out. I could not handle that thought. I had to reassess and change the way I was thinking to make my brain happy to continue. At such points it is very easy to think about giving up, and the thought of climbing the steps of the boat is present. I changed my view to swim to the next feed and then think, as I could not think or contemplate that the universe existed past that point. I did not need to think past that point. My brain took a sigh of relief.


I got to the next feed and got something warm inside me. Then a mouthfull of food, maybe it was my favourite one then (apart from the staple banana) of crushed bounty bar with some tinned peaches! The best thing ever!! I had never tried it before but I chose some goodies at the supermarket before and Gemma put that combo together. Lush. She made sure every feed was ready even though she had been ill. I set out with warmth in my belly and a new enthusiasm and belief that life could go on. There is a saying in swimming 'just swim to the next feed,' and if thats what I had to do then thats fine.


My friend Bryn had said to me before my swim 'remember Rottnest' this came into my mind at this time. It signified the struggle I had endured and overcome mentally and physically at a 14 mile swim from Perth to Rottnest Island. I remembered, and employed one of my tactics there which was to fill the sea with beautiful positive thoughts and concentrate on my stroke. As I concentrated on my stroke I felt like my stroke was smooth and efficient. It made me happy. I was doing a positive thing and improving my efficiency, so definitely making progress. At this time the bow wave of a tanker came from behind us. It must have been very large and/or very close as the waves were considerable. Then the most wonderful thing happened, as I concentrated on my stroke I seemed to be in perfect harmony with the waves. As my hand entered the water at the peak of the wave I would pull my stroke as I travelled down the wave. Then the next wave would push from behind and gently thrust me forwards as I rode down the wave again. I imagined it to be like being on a rollercoaster, or like a dolphin riding the waves. I was at one with the sea, and it was beautiful, seriously. It made me so happy, and I thought 'oh yes, thats right, I enjoy swimming!' So I knew that if I could have such a beautiful experience in probably the darkest hour then I could make it.


I carried on at the same pace, at some point the cold really got to me. During my relay swim the year before I had really pushed myself as hard as I could for the last hour. So hard I asked God for help and told him that I would give up smoking if my lungs could take it and I could finish the swim. During this Channel swim I thought 'I asked you for help in return for giving up smoking. You helped me and I gave up smoking, thank you.' I am not too proud to admit asking for help from the big man. I again asked God for help when I felt really uncomfortable and cold. I said that I would give anything to finish this swim, then I thought about it and said that I did not want to lose my life for it. This may seem drastic but an Irish swimmer, who was indeed accomplished, fit and acclimatised to cold water, had a heart attack and died one mile from France. I wanted to finish. Was it possible? Had I done enough training this time? Had the balance that I had struck between work and training in such a period of time been the right balance?


Most swimmers will admit to their mind wandering during a swim of some length. Some will even admit to hallucinating. What I am about to tell you is up to you how you interpret it. When I was feeling cold and uncomfortable, wanting to carry on but not knowing if it was possible, fighting to keep my mind focused, I felt someone in the water next to me. I felt the presence of someone slightly behind me to my left. I felt happy and quietly content that they were there with me. It was teamwork. At one point I imagined that they had given me a leather jacket and I was wearing it, protecting me as I swam. You can call me mad, you wouldnt be the first, but that was such a help. It may well have been the difference between continuing and not. Who knows, but I am very grateful for it.


I did not mention this to my crew. I did not mention feeling cold, I managed not to swear at them which is quite common during a Channel swim. Helen had said before that if I was thinking of giving up she would jump in with me, but that she would rather not swim. She was also slightly slower than me so it would have been difficult unless I had slowed down. I did not ask her to swim, I did not want to get to that stage, I had been there before on my last attempt and believed that if you are at that stage it is probably too late. Thats my experience anyway.

Tindi stood and watched me as I swam then, giving me eye contact to reassure me. Anything that helps is welcome and this was welcome.


After the dark and challenging moments of around halfway had been overcome things seemed to get noticeably easier. We came closer to France. You are always advised by everyone not to look towards France or back to England as it can be demoralising. You can feel like there is no change. By this time I was visibly closer to France and with plenty in the tank. I had reserves. This was very different to my last solo swim I thought. I was on the ball, I was compos mentis, I could think clearly and positively. This was hugely encouraging. I carried on at my economical pace, thinking 'I can go on all day,' with a smile on my face.


That changed almost as soon as I thought it. As I was having a feed I asked for just water and didnt want the hot tea with fruit sugar. I didnt really like the taste (no milk) and my stomach had had enough of different fluids. I just wanted water to balance things out and keep me hydrated. This also helped the cramp in my right thigh to relent. The captain came out and said 'yes you will' I said 'yes I will what?' He replied to drink the tea, as much as I could, as we were about to take on a change in tide and we needed to speed up otherwise we could be taken off course and down the French coast. I drank as much as I could then put it in.


I raised my pace for the next half hour, from 56 to 68 strokes per minute. I pushed it hard, as hard as I could whilst being able to continue. I asked at the next break how long I would have to go on for, Helen replied just keep going. I said ok but if I have a heart attack youre jumping in, she said that yes she would. So I carried on at the raised pace.


This went on for between an hour and an hour and a half. Again I was breathing to the fullest extent of my lungs. I remembered a friend from my village saying after my failed attempt that he had played football with people who could run all day, and had the lungs of a bull. This was my time to go all day, and I could hear my lungs, my exhaling was as strong as it has ever been. If ever I had the lungs of a bull it is now.


The crew gave me my next feed, then said 'look up, there you go, the last mile.' I looked up and I could see the coast, as plain as day. There was a big structure similar to a large radio mast. I aimed for this. I could see the effect the strong tide was having, I was bobbing along next to the boat when it was stationary. I was travelling along it, pushed by the tide, at some pace.


I believed that I had to continue to push it to make the final leg. I thought, for some reason, that the tide was taking me away from the beach. I was somewhat disorientated and in fact it would have taken me along the beach, but by this stage my mind was not thinking completely rationally.


I set off on the final leg, pushing it as hard as I could, but my shoulders felt spent. There seemed to be no power left. I turned over and tried backstroke, it wasnt going to work. My heart and lungs seemed to be running beyond their capacity. I thought again of the Irish swimmer who had a heart attack one mile out. Thoughts of quitting went through my mind. Not only was I overcoming the situation, or coming to terms with it, but I had also managed to heap extra pressure on myself by believing that I had to sprint otherwise I wouldnt get there. I thought that I had tried hard enough and that it would be ok to get back on the boat. Thoughts like these are fairly natural, you then have to decide how to deal with them. I thought of my brother Howard telling his son, my nephew, Callum 'uncle Lloydy did very well, he nearly made it.' I thought NO! Im not having that. I remember that feeling as clearly now as I write this and tears are welling in my eyes. I couldnt have that. For the rest of my life I was not going to have Callum thinking that I had done really well for nearly making it. This was my time, what was I thinking? Come on! Think about it, use something that you have, think of an answer.


I remembered something that Bryn had said 'just keep swimming, put your face down and it takes as long as it takes.' I had to forget about sprinting and take long efficient strokes. Relax, stay calm, this will take as long as it takes. If it takes 20 minutes, half an hour or two hours, thats fine. I am doing a job, stick with it, come on you'll be ok.


I swam for a while then looked up, I couldnt be sure if I was making progress. Its very hard to tell from a glimpse (you dont want to look for too long as it interferes with your stroke) whether you are 1 mile away or 9/10 of a mile. So I put my head back down and carried on. Nice long efficient strokes. I told myself to swim for longer before I looked up again, trust, have faith.


With each breath to the side I could hear the screams of encouragement and the airhorn from the boat, gradually further and further away. It was quite surreal. Now I interpreted them as good luck, a wave of enthusiasm helping me on my way. Ten minutes before when I was not focused they were an addition to my confusion, but now everything was fitting into place.


I looked up again and was pretty sure I was making progress. Good. Just keep swimming, nice and easy, not too easy, keep making progress and you will get there. After a while I looked up again and was definitely making progress. You cant imagine that feeling, or maybe you can, who am I to tell you what you can and cant imagine. It was a massive feeling of hope and reassurance. I was going to make it, come on! I swam with a light heart now, like I was sliding down the other side of the rainbow. I was coming into land. I looked up, and as I did my feet dropped and I felt sand!!!!!!!


I was there. Oh my God. Thank you God. Yes! Of all the struggles in my life, leading up to this swim and the swim itself it was, I was


You can imagine the end of the scentence for yourself. Enjoy it, I did.


I walked for a while, thinking that I had swum enough for one day. There were smooth rocks on the bottom in between sand. My legs were shakey. I swam again for a while, then decided that it was safer to crawl on all fours as if through an army training course. I may have slipped on the smooth rocks had I tried to walk. I dragged myself clear of the water then stood up. What a feeling! I was standing clear of the water after swimming the English Channel! It had happened. I had achieved a lifleong dream. I was stunned to silence, happy content, over the moon, not sure if it had actually happened.


'G'day Lloyd!'


There was no one on this beach for miles, but somehow I had just heard an Aussie voice congratulating me. I turned around and there was an Aussie guy, Richard, who I had met on Dover beach a couple of days before. I was not sure if I would see him before his swim so I had wished him all the best.


'English Channel this, English Channel that. Its just a day in the water!'


My jaw must have dropped. I didnt say anything. I thought 'has he just done the same swim as me?'


'Actually tell a lie I was hallucinating after 5 hours,' he admitted.


OK in that case he has just done the same swim as me.


We shook hands, exchanged some well wishes, he reminded me to get a pebble. Then we went our seperate ways. I found the only "pebble" I could with holes in it, which was a beauty! As big as your outstretched hand, a couple of inches thick, and with several holes filled with shells and little stones. I could not be sure if the holes went all the way through as they were blocked, but it looked good, I had a good feeling about it and it was time to return to the boat and get warm.


The Aussie guy was wondering around in disbelief a little further up the beach. His crew were shouting at him to return to the boat. It was like a scene from a film showing people wandering around after a nuclear explosion. Something life changing had happened, and it blows your mind.


From being a child and watching it on the television, I was actually there in person.


I swam back to the boat, my legs were dragging below me almost vertically, with my large stone down my trunks. I climbed up the ladder to the loving admiration and cheers from my brilliant crew. My words were 'thats the hardest f***ing thing I've ever done in my life!' Then I sat in the cabin with Gemma and Helen. Tindi and Gary were trying not to feel sick up on topdeck. We hugged and cried, cried and hugged. All of the swear words that had not been used during the swim came out in an outburst of trying to believe what had just happened. We had done it, I had done it.


On the return journey it was dark and I looked up at the stars. I felt part of the universe. I had put myself out there and lived a dream, I felt at one with the universe.


The next day we met up with our friend John, who swam the day before me in 17hr 15min, and his family at the White Horse pub in Dover. It is a pub where Channel swimmers traditionally go to write on the wall after their swim. I wrote;

Lloyd Clarke 14hr 19min, 13th August 2012, with the help of my crew; Helen, Gary, Gemma, Tindi: Family, Friends, fb and God  I am now forever a Channel Swimmer :-) xxx


I had written in John's comments book that we were in the waiting room, but that I would have a beer with him in Valhalla. We were there, we had made it, and we were having a beer in Valhalla. Well an orange juice and lemonade anyway! Plenty of beer to come when we were recovered.


This has been an amazing time in my life, and will continue to be amazing for the rest of my life. To achieve a dream, and join a group of people fewer in number than those that have climbed to the summit of Everest. It is something for my friends and family, children and children's children, my crew, village...It is me celebrating life and saying thank you for my life. Last time I, with the help of family and friends, managed to raise £2646 for magpas. This I am told is enough for four emergency call outs. So at least four people will have a chance to live as I have. I am grateful for my life, and I know others will be and are for theirs. I hope to raise as much money for magpas as I can. Its a very worthy cause.


Love and best wishes,

Lloyd xxx