Bad weather frustrates cross channel attempt
SWIMMING CHRIS O’SULLIVAN MISSES HIS SLOT
IMAGINE WALKING around a dull Dover most evenings of a week with hands in pockets waiting for a break in the weather.
Carlow-based Wicklovian Chris O’Sullivan was forced to do just that, but not waiting for a slot on the first tee at some golf course but a window in the weather to embark on his Channel Swim.
They on the first tee could retire to the bar and boast about what they might have returned over the 18, but Chris was stonewalled by inclement weather from a challenge he had trained to complete for more than a year, and may have to put on hold until at least July ’09.
Imagine the frustration of beating out the miles in pools, rivers and seas to be denied the ultimate satisfaction when a pilot declares the crossing dangerous and ‘pulls’ the swimmer who has paid a fortune in energy and cash for the ‘right’ to dip into the English Channel and possibly a place in the channel annals, and an inscription in a Dover pub devoted to those who successfully challenged the salt between England and France; and become one of the ten per cent of those who actually make it.
a‘I learned so much by just being there,’ says Chris, ‘unlike reading material from e-mails. You spend the time trying to focus on the possibility that tomorrow may be the day,’ he said, adding that the town has absolutely nothing going for it and extolling the features of Carlow, a town of similar size but of far greater expression.
‘You spend the time trying to stay focussed with people who have done the swim and whose names are on the walls of the White Horse pub, including several I know.’
It is a ‘wall’ channel swimmers have come to accept, and for Chris the disappointment of a no-start was always a factor, and one he was contemplating. ‘ If I went that road (one of frustration) I’d have packed it in. Yea, I felt like that for five minutes every day we were there but I kept focus with those people who had done it and others like me who were there to do it.’
It was a lousy week for Chris and others who had signed up for the mid- September window. They flew over on Sunday and signed in for a Tuesday 9 a. m. start, only to hear weather forecasts suggest unfavourable conditions for their big day. ‘Out of the blue the wind whipped up to 20 ks per hour and it stayed like that all week,’ said Chris.
Chris waited out the agonising hours and days with seven or eight other Irish challengers, with the last attemptee a U.S. swimmer who waded in on the 20th and made the French coast 12 hours and 51 minutes later.
However, there was one Irish success when the Dublin Fire Brigade team of six made their slot and touched French beach after more than nine hours.
The ability to make the crossing is often frustrated by the loss of slot because of weather, and the queuing system which applies, and it will cost Chris at least a further eight months at least before he can hope to add his name to the exclusive club whose members have crossed one of the most intimidating short passages of water on this earth.
Chris O’Sullivan was forced abandon his attempt to swim the English channel due to bad weather.