We catch up with super swimmer Nathan Payas following his successful swim of the English Channel to raise money for charity – and we find out exactly what he thought about for the nine hours it took to make the crossing…
"The end never seemed to arrive and two hours felt like four ... It was a real battle at the end, but I was able to conquer it" The hardest part by far was the final two hours. There was a strong current pushing us south and I was afraid that I would miss the target point which could have added many hours to the swim. Apparently, the pilot was not at all worried for me as he knew I’d make it.
The end never seemed to arrive and two hours felt like four. The lighthouse in the distance did not seem to get any closer and my old injuries were starting to really bother me. It was a real battle at the end, but I was able to conquer it.
Not at all. Quitting never crossed my mind.
"At one point I felt like I was in The Matrix movie as I swerved away from Jellies in full motion" Whilst I am swimming I’m constantly monitoring myself. I’m always thinking about my swimming technique and making the stroke more efficient. I also monitor my breathing, my injuries and my temperature and I am constantly thinking about all of this. Surprisingly my mind seldom wanders off.
Plus, you have the changes in current, surface conditions and jellyfish to contend with which keeps it interesting. At one point I felt like I was in The Matrix movie as I swerved away from Jellies whilst in full motion.
I stopped on average once every hour, larger intervals at first, shorter towards the end. I have a soft cereal bar and a banana along the way and the rest were drinks. The best drink to have is a warm carbohydrate (maltodextrin) drink and these really helped me warm up and keep strong throughout.
"The Jellyfish made it very interesting as one hit from them could have been game over" The Jellyfish made it very interesting as one hit from them could have been game over. I have never seen such large jellies before. My neck was in pain from looking forwards for them whilst swimming. I was lucky that I didn’t get hit whilst I wasn’t looking out for them.
The other difficult bit was that for a long time the diesel fumes from the accompanying vessel was being blown straight towards me by the wind. It was horrible as I was breathing in hard and made me feel very nauseous. As a result I had to swim away from the boat and for most of the second part I ended up leading by swimming slightly in front of the vessel.
Just one motorised vessel called The Might Mo (like a tug boat) and a small rhib for the final stretch into the rocks in France.
The important thing was to warm up as soon as possible by wearing everything that I had taken with me. Luckily it was a sunny day so I was lying down in the sun on the boat, on the way back to Dover. I also made sure that I ate and drank plenty, although I was not particularly hungry, and I went to bed early.
The fund is at £4,050 and rising for The Calpe House Trust.
If I were to do it again I’d speak to Elite swimmers to learn from their experience and see how I could use the vessel's wake more to achieve a faster swim. I’d learn, simply from doing more long swims, how best to feed and how to shave off minutes and hopefully go under 9 hours.
In all honesty, I think I would look elsewhere for other swims that I have yet to achieve and experience an altogether new challenge.
I hope to use the 2XU wetsuit to train in the sea this winter. The Musto BR1 jacket was of great help during the boat ride back as you can see in the picture and the Musto microfleece just made me look cool at dinner, as it’s such a great looking item. I am very grateful for your donations.
We're just glad everything fit! A huge congratulations to Nathan from everyone at TeamWSO. If you'd like to donate to Nathan's cause, head on over to his JustGiving page.
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