Galway woman hopes to dive into history books with Channel swim

A Galway woman is hoping to make a big splash next week as she attempts to write herself into history books by completing the English Channel swim.

Preparations are well under way for long-distance swimmer Alice Flood who intends to cross the channel, departing Britain, next week.

“As a long distance open water swimmer, the biggest prize for us is the English Channel and it’s the one that you want.

“It’s the biggest achievement you can get so I said ‘Let’s just do it,” Ms Flood said.

From point-to-point in a direct straight line, the distance to cross the Channel is 21 miles (33km).

However, the Bushy Park resident said given the strong currents and tides, the swim route follows an S-curve, meaning the overall distance to swim is actually closer to 30 miles.

Asked how long she estimates the mammoth swim will take her, she replied: “That’s a really difficult question to answer.”

However, she is hoping to complete the swim “somewhere between 12 and 14 hours”.

Ms Flood originally planned to do the swim last year but was forced to postpone it due to bad weather conditions.

Once she gets in the water, she will swim for 45 minutes to an hour before her crew use a fishing line to pass her energy drinks.

She will drink then every 30 minutes until she gets to France.

She will also take some solid food including a banana or a mini milky way or jelly babies to give her a sugar rush.

The swimmer will have to tread water while she is feeding on the food and drink.

Ms Flood, who also works full time, says undertaking the swim is “pretty full on” with training taking her around 15 hours a week.

She outlined what it takes to prepare for the event.

“I do an awful lot of swimming, not surprisingly. Through the winter I swim in the pool four mornings a week and I will usually be in the pool for 6am, out at 8am, and I will probably do about 6km on average.

“After it comes into the summer season I start adding my mileage in the sea into that so I swim in the sea during the winter as well but they’re very quick dips obviously.

“The whole theory behind those is just to get really immune to the cold water so that when it comes to this time of year when you’re in for two or three hours, even four, five or six hours that you’re more immune to the cold water.”

The training isn’t just confined to the water and Ms Flood said she spends time in the gym too.

“I do a lot of conditioning and strength work in the gym as well.

“I’m in the gym about twice a week just doing strength.

“It’s more to stay healthy and stay strong and try and prevent injury.

“I go to physio every three to four weeks as well just to make sure everything is in working order.

“Another important aspect of training which kind of goes unheard of is putting on weight to try and deal with the cold.

“We don’t wear wetsuits, it’s against the rules in the Channel to wear a wetsuit so we just wear one pair of swimming togs, one swimming hat and one pair of goggles — that’s all anyone is allowed.”

  • To keep up to date on Ms Flood’s progress, follow her on Twitter @alice_flood.


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