Penny drops for Sam in the English Chan­nel

Multisport Mecca - - NEWS -

LOOK­ING up at the White Cliffs of Dover, a wave of adrenalin washed over Sam Penny.

Af­ter a false start the day be­fore due to boat me­chan­i­cal prob­lems, the Sun­shine Coast swim­mer got his op­por­tu­nity and grabbed it with both hands to fin­ish in just over 11 hours.

With sur­pris­ingly warm wa­ter of 19 de­grees, and air tem­per­a­ture of 28, Penny had to in­crease his fluid and mag­ne­sium in­take to deal with cramps. Yet he pushed through the early stages with ease in near per­fect con­di­tions.

“I spoke less than 20 words on my whole swim. I felt so great in the wa­ter,” he said.

“I had zero pain, zero fa­tigue and my pace was strong. As each hour went by, my con­di­tion didn’t change. I just felt great. I stormed through six, seven, eight hours.”

Hav­ing never swum for more than eight hours, he en­tered un­charted ter­ri­tory.

“We knew the weather was go­ing to change around the eight-hour point and just like clock­work, it did,” Penny said.

“The wind picked up to pro­duce a rather an­noy­ing chop, but worse still, the chop was bounc­ing off the boat back at me.

“With chop com­ing at me from both sides, my rhythm had been bro­ken, I had to change my stroke to suit the con­di­tions and then my shoul­ders started to go.

“On sev­eral oc­ca­sions, my left shoul­der seized to the point that I couldn’t even do a stroke. An in­tense pain would strike me in my shoul­der.”

Chang­ing his stroke style to re­lieve the strain, he man­aged to stop the shoul­der seiz­ing with sup­port in the boat from He­len Shad­forth and London swim coach Tim Denyer.

Look­ing up he could see France, but land still seemed so far away.

“We were getting close to 10 hours and France was not getting closer,” Penny said.

“You can see Dover for nearly the en­tire swim. It’s so de­press­ing.

“At the 10 hour feed and ev­ery­thing changes. Tim said, ‘give me ev­ery­thing and we’ll get in un­der an hour’. Less than an hour of swim­ming! I tried to go hard but the pain in my shoul­ders was still so in­tense.

“I tried to lift but I couldn’t. We hit 10hr30mins and Tim throws another bot­tle for me to gulp down. ‘Mate, this is your last feed. Take a quick gulp, just go boy’.

“And go I did. All the pain left my body as the rush con­sumed me.

“Tim held up a sign ‘400m to go’ In my mind, 400m was go­ing to be six, maybe seven min­utes.

“I ab­so­lutely nailed that last 400m. I went as hard and as fast as I could. I could feel the end of months of hard work be­com­ing a re­al­ity.”

His prepa­ra­tion took 12 months, swim­ming reg­u­larly with Toby Coote’s Sun­shine Coast Tri Academy, “when four-hour, six-hour, eight-hour swims be­came nor­mal”.

“The 10km swims were short swims, of which I would of­ten do three times a week,” he said.

Penny was the third Sun­shine Coast swim­mer to cross the English Chan­nel in re­cent years.

Peter Schultz man­aged the feat last year in 11hr 55min, while two years ago Bud­erim’s Chris Sha­p­land be­came the sec­ond old­est per­son to achieve the feat at the age of 69 af­ter a gru­elling 16 hours and 28 min­utes.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

SUC­CESS: He­len Shad­forth and Sam Penny af­ter his English Chan­nel swim.

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