Pilot finally lands in France
FOUR hours into the epic 32km English Channel swim was Peter Schultz’s primary hurdle.
Struggling to urinate, the pain was getting to the point where he knew it could derail his year-long effort to conquer the iconic swim.
“I don’t know why that was happening but it was and it was getting painful to the point where I knew that if the issue wasn’t sorted the swim could be over whether I liked it or not,” he said.
“I didn’t feel negative about it but more how am I going to sort this out.
“At one of the feed stops I just floated and made myself let go of all the worry, the tension and what ifs, telling myself that if I had to float here for half an hour till the job was done then so be it, it didn’t matter about the time but the swim was over if I didn’t.
“That did the trick. I managed to get enough out to take the pain away then on the next feed I was given some very strong tea and from there we were back in business.”
Peter completed the journey in 11 hours and 55 minutes.
Reaching the French sand ended a year-long focus for the 52-year-old. He moved to Sydney from Caloundra to swim in colder water as part of his preparation.
With excellent preparation under the guidance of Trent Grimsey, Peter looked strong and determined throughout the challenge.
“I’ve done long swims in training where it was mentally quite easy and similarly ones where it was a battle from start to finish,” Peter said.
“The Channel swim was a good one for me. There were certainly dark times but I never once felt negative or that the job was too great.”
Peter said apart from his health issue, the other greatest battle was toward the end “when your body is hurting and the coast just never seems to get any closer”.
“We had swum into darkness having started from Dover at midday,” he said.
“It was a very black night, there was no point looking forward as, because of the currents, where you were looking bore no relation to where you were going or where you would eventually hit the beach that you couldn’t see anyway – just lights from the towns.
“Your mind wants to go to negative places, you’ve got to shut that down straight away. Put those thoughts out of your head and keep swimming. ‘It’ll be over when it’s over’ I kept telling myself, ‘swim from feed to feed and don’t think any more than that’. ‘Relax, stay positive, you’ll get there’.”
Now back at work behind the controls of Qantas aircraft, the pilot said there were two pieces of advice which were true: “It is the longest swim of your life followed by the hardest swim of your life”, as well as “It’s 90% mental, the rest is in your head”.
With such as feat, there were a lot of people to thank.
Peter paid tribute to Toby Coote from SCTA, his first real swim coach, along with Trent for his programs and all the open water swimmers he has met along the way.
He also enjoyed some hard work under the guidance of Vlad Swim head coach Vlad Mravec in Sydney. Tim Denyer from Red Top Swim in the UK was Peter’s manager on the day and in all things leading up to the swim, while the team of Reg and Ray Brickell from support vessel Viking Princess “are second to none if you want a successful swim”.
Nutritionist Tara Diversi guided him with weight gain and swim feeding, while there were also many wonderful friends on the Sunshine Coast and in Manly that supported and encouraged him along the way.
“There is no overstating how important that friendship and family support is,” he said.
“But most especially Sara Whitelaw who put up with so much sh*t from me along the way and then still travelled all the way over there to put up with more on the day itself.”
Peter has no plans for his next challenge, “still too early to say”.
Peter Schultz prepares for the Channel.