Jersey 'Pikey Manouvers' Relay


Two person 41 mile relay, Jersey

Swimming around Jersey always promised to be an adventure, but other special experiences of the trip almost eclipsed the swim. The welcome we received from Sally and Charlie Minty-Gravett and the Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club (JLDSC) was amazing. They not only welcomed us to the island with dinner invitations, club swims (dolphins included) and wonderful advice, but they also saw-off and greeted-in our swim. A real family feel.

The swimming club meet several times a week and when we first met them on Sunday morning for a beautiful training swim, we were pleased to see cake and trophies on the agenda. Home from home!

Our tide was Sunday to Thursday so we arrived on Saturday to prepare but due to a very windy Jersey our swim wasn’t looking likely until Tuesday. Plenty of time to sample the local cuisine and of course fizzy pop. On Sunday Charlie confirmed we would in fact definitely be swimming on Tuesday, which was good news (especially in fizzy pop terms).

Tuesday, 6.30am, and we were at Charlie’s boat, ‘Sea Swimmer’, ready for the off and with a few members of the club there to see us off. Sea Swimmer could be described as ‘cosy’, but Charlie and co-pilot Mick informed us that they need a small vessel to negotiate narrow channels and shallow reef.

I was so excited (and maybe just a little nervous) and the adrenalin started to kick in. I was soon put at ease by Charlie and Mick who simply said, ‘go on, off you go then’. Um, well, ok then! So off went I. Elegantly ‘plopping’ into the water, I swam to the harbour wall, shouted ‘ready’ and started swimming. Our swim had begun.

No word of a lie, it was like swimming through silk, the water was flat calm and it was mesmerizing. The first 15 minutes went a bit like this, right arm, left arm, right arm breathe, oh there’s Jersey, left arm right arm left arm, breathe, oh there’s smiling Stu, right arm, left arm, right arm breathe, oh there’s Jersey, left arm right arm left arm, breathe, oh there’s smiling Stu, get the picture?

What stood out to me the most was that people say it’s lonely doing a 2-man relay because you don’t get to see the person you swim with but when that person smiles at you constantly for two hours, you can’t feel lonely! In fact far from it, it was a lovely experience.

After an hour and 40 minutes we hit Le Rocque, well not actually ‘hit’ it but passed it - phew! I’d done it and in under the estimated time, (we had to get to Le Rocque in under two hours or we’d miss the tide and be taken straight to the pub!) BUT much to my dismay arriving there early meant that we weren’t going to have the full benefit of the tidal push and our time may be longer. That really didn’t matter as this was a very welcome change to the slightly murky waters of Dover that Stuart and I have begun to call home!

Shortly after Le Rocque, Stu jumped in, well actually he plopped in too, well it’s awkward, this boat-sea maneuver!

So he was off and it was my time to get out. A little cold I lugged my body up the narrow ladder onto the boat where a very enthusiastic Charlie and Mick waited. ‘Well Done!’ ‘Good Swimming’ ‘Tea’ ‘Clothes’ ‘Get Warm’ ‘Well Done’! For a few moments I felt like an Olympic swimmer, they made me feel amazing but what was even better was peering over the side of the boat and seeing Stu swimming away already, he was way out in front so Sea Swimmer was spurred back into action and we sped after him.

For the next two hours I got to sit and watch Stu swim. It’s very funny to watch someone who you normally swim next to swimming for so long and it’s even more brilliant to try to get the ultimate photo of them. He swam smoothly and consistently for two hours without stopping except on occasion when he would smile at us or wave (or show off with the odd bit of backstroke or pose for the camera!). He was having fun, it was obvious and who wouldn’t be! A slightly choppier sea but still beautiful surroundings and, well, just a brilliant, brilliant swim.

We carried this on. I swapped with Stu twice more so we swam three times each in total twice for two hours and the final swims were an hour and a half. Every swim flew by and each time Stu put his hand up to say five minutes left I couldn’t believe it. There is something amazing about just swimming and swimming as I’m sure you all know.

After 10 hours we were almost there, I could see the finish, Stu was in the water and buoys were flying past us, I started to get excited and wanted to get in with Stu to swim the last bit. ‘Hang on Olivia’. The last 20 minutes seemed to take forever, it’s so exciting seeing the finish but it doesn’t seem to get closer very quickly! This is a good lesson for me for the Channel I think - don’t look up!

After a long 20 minutes I launched myself into the sea and swam by Stu for the last 10. He touched the harbour wall and that was it we’d swum around the whole of Jersey - 41 miles. HOORAY! It was really exciting to finish, 10 hours and 32 minutes of swimming.

Charlie and Mick were thrilled as were we but what really topped it off was as we were driven back in the harbour on our trusty steed, Sea Swimmer, the swimming club were waiting for us with champagne… the perfect finish. Within about 10 seconds I was feeling a little unsteady on my feet and more than a little elated.

I really recommend this swim - a lovely group of people, a lovely swim and a lovely break from your usual swimming spots. Go go go!

http://www.jerseyseaswims.org/

By Olivia Brown and (co author) Stuart Palmer