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Kaise Stephan – Swimmer, English Channel and Cancer Fundraiser (Part 2 of 3)

By Admin | December 13, 2008

What was the most challenging part of your training schedule?

I would train morning at 5 am before work, at lunch while at work, and after work. Then go home to see my wife and 6 month old son at the time.

The most challenging part? I got used to swimming 5 km in morning. Not too tired in morning, but lunch and afternoon swims made it very challenging. My schedule needed to be very fluid to cope with changes in demands from both sides. Just like reporting to two bosses, one of them in my case was a tough and excellent swimming coach.

Back in 2006, I started by training 10 km per week, this quickly built up to 30 km per week. By the time it came to the last few months before the swim I was doing 60-90 km per week depending on the training schedule set by my coach Daniel Esposito.

A number of times, I took weeks off work, spending 35-40 hours in the water training 90 km I was glad to be back at work.

Altogether in the campaign. I (swam) 4500km of intensive training, the equivalent of crossing the Australian continent – Sydney to Perth – and another 400km into the Indian Ocean.

The last two months were very challenging trying to balance work, family, training and fundraising.

Did you do most of your training in a pool?

I trained in differing types of conditions: Pool swimming, ocean swimming, night swims, pre-dawm swims, river swims, cold water swims. It was not pretty.

Before the swim, were you more excited or scared?

It was a great and an amazing day for me. Starting with the confirmation phone call from Andy King the boat pilot at 8pm the night before.

I set my alarm clock for 3am for a 5am swim start time, too excited to sleep. In the morning I had the last breakfast – 6 weetbix -before the swim. Not too nervous yet. I was surprised at how calm I was, perhaps it was all the training, the big help by all around me that gave me extra strength.

What was the actual day of the swim like for you?

Met Andy at 0430 who took me and crew to Shakespeare beach. Stretched and got greased up with channel grease, I did not talk much, tried to maintain full focus. I reached the beach, jumped off the side of the boat, swam to beach waiting for boat horn to signal my start, greeted my family on the beach and all I could say was thanks and in my mind “it was nice to have known you!!”.

Boat horn clearly heard, in I went with no hesitation. I could see the white cliffs of dover stating their beautiful presence behind me. Weather was so great, thanks to God for that.

The white cliffs fell away. I came across the first shipping lane on the UK side. Massive tankers, mini floating cities creating 4-5m waves!!

In the middle of the channel, I saw some jellyfish under the surface, I did not come into contact with any. today I read that Portuguese man o war are around the UK beaches. Thank goodness I did not see them. It was getting difficult then as I did not see land either way at that stage.

I then saw started to see more ships and I knew I was nearing the french coast. Half an hour later I saw the french coast, a boost. An hour later at the 9 hour mark, the coast did not look any closer – a big down, very tired, cold, hungry, all feeling the weight at once, spirit down.

How did you manage to fight through that feeling of discouragement?

Then. I received a message from wife and 10 month old son via my sister who was on the boat. I asked for no messages so I could focus, but this one got through.

The message was that my son was saying “baba go, baba go.” He usually says words like that, but that was so appropriate to the occasion. My coach said that after this I swam faster than the start of the swim. My newfound energy and speed continued for two hours. Wow.

I then started making out objects on the beach, it was now 1-2 km away. My coach said it went well and if I wanted to finish, it is there for the taking, it is up to me.

I was very tired now, arms and legs still moving, not sore amazingly just tired. I then saw some ground through the water, the realization started to hit me, two and a half years of training was coming to an end.

After twelve hours and 32 minutes it was emotional to see ground again. The ground got closer, I then touched the sand on the bottom, sand filtering through my fingers, in the water, this was it, the end.

All I had to do was walk, even crawl onto the beach. I tried to walk, fell two times – my legs were wobbly. I stood up again then walked onto the beach, some surprised beachgoers were gob smacked. Where did this swimmer come from, then they realised, handshakes. The boat horn tooted, celebrations from me, I could lift my arms but not jump up and down, celebrations on the boat.

I then had to swim back to the boat, 200 m away (the boat could not moor at beach), I did not want to swim 200 m more. I had already swum 50 km!!!

They sent through the attached life boat They had Australian flag with them. This was the flag which was given to CCFL, the flag that flew on the Australian federal parliament on 4 June 2008. That was an amazing moment for me and all involved, I was so exhausted yet so exhilarated.

Twelve hours and thirty minutes.

Topics: Athletes, English Channel Swimmers, Fundraisers | Comments Off on Kaise Stephan – Swimmer, English Channel and Cancer Fundraiser (Part 2 of 3)

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