29 July 2009

Run Harvey, Run!

Just had a lovely e-chat with Harvey's Mom Carol. They're in New York at the minute getting Harvey's first set of running legs. The conversation reminded me what this whole endeavor was all about: Helping Harvey. She also forwarded me a news story about Harvey running FOR THE FIRST TIME! This is what our contributions and hard work helped to fund. All I have to say is, "Go Harvey, GO!"

Follow this link to watch the video.


Kyle Taylor

26 July 2009

$10,000 RAISED! Now Some Radio Silence

First, the big news! We've raised nearly $10,000 for Harvey, which got the Parry family over the edge to buy his first pair of running legs! I'll have a video up soon of him nipping here there and everywhere! Naturally, it's adorable. So THANK YOU to everyone who contributed. We did it!

As for me, I've been away for a few weeks recovering from the swim and subsequent slandering and I'm now in full dissertation mode! I've set up shop in Brussels at the Decrop's place for the next 16 days and it's all dissertation ALL THE TIME. Fortunately, we started with a five-day trip to Berlin, which was INCREDIBLE. More on that when I have time to really get into it.

In the meantime, enjoy all the photos from my UK road trip by clicking here. The Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh, York, The Lake District, Blackpool, Liverpool, Wales and yes, of course, Stonehenge!

Enjoy, and I'll update periodically when I need a study break. Don't worry, BIG EXCITING plans are coming this fall, so lots and lots of adventures to share.


Kyle Taylor

10 July 2009

Rudest Email I Have Ever Received

I just received a message from someone else who has been training to swim the channel. It was horribly rude and cruel and I felt the need to share it, followed by my reply. I only hope he finds the inner peace necessary to move on with his own life.

The message:

Hi Everyne

I'm not one for sticking my beak in, but this really P..sed me off. Kyle who has been on the beach for 10 weeks. Booked swims , not sent his paper work in . Cancelled his slot, booked with the other group...Mate I was out Sat in the Harbour & on a channel swim Sat night ...No wind, no tide all night.....Where were you? as there were boats from the CSA & CS&PF in the channel.

So I read on his facebook that he , on Sunday did a 25 mile swim in the Harbour, in 8.5 hours claiming it was an equal distance channel swim........Mate if you have the guts get out there & test yourself.......All you did was an 8.5 hour training swim.......In a wetsuit it looks like......So Kyle, put on a pair of regulation swimmers & test yourself..

We all saw you in the harbour, no one knew when you started, there was no " 0fficial" observer, so we do not know. If infact you actually did the distance, & the conditions were flat. You didn't come over & thank the crew' who supported you through ALL your trainng sessions....I wonder why?
I think YOU know the answer.....

Mate I have spent 17 hrs 11min & 20hrs 28min in the real channel not touching the French coast line....So I can tell you, your Training swim is nothing like the real thing. If I appear a little miffed you are bloody right..........I am sure many people past & present who have trained , & are training in the harbour for their day, (Many did 7 hrs sat & 6 on sunday )will feel the same....Kyle the only person you have deluded , is yourself, & misled your sponsers & supporters.

You also claim that there are no swimable conditions till Aug..... Kyle this is the channel. The perfect day was sat . I am swimming this tide & I'll bet I have a swim.....Kyle I am fron Australia & have been training since late May in Dover. Staying at a B&B & I am not sponsered. I will be here till my swim, or my time runs out. Its the channel or nothing, anything else is a farce......Deal with it mate.... You were offered a delay , & turned down. Stating you were ready...What for a harbour training swim in a wetsuit, in daylight. Standing on the beach for your feed........By the way was this your costal swim?????

I will wait with interest your reply, or will this to be like your training swim .....A non event

To all those who did such good training swims over BOTH days on the weekend ... Well done...Good luck when you take the plunge in the Channel.



My Reply:

Dear Rick,

What a rude, uninformed message. I have never - and will never - speak to any other human being the way you have spoken to me. What's really upsetting to me is that - after having swam that distance and training for 10 weeks all for charity - you failed to note that the purpose of my challenge was to raise funds for a boy who has no legs. I'm sorry that, among everything that is going on with channel swimming, you felt the need to engage in my life in such a tactless, cruel and uniformed way. I feel very bad for you.

I did not and will not claim it as a channel swim because it wasn't. It was exactly what I have said it was from the beginning. With regard to what happened surrounding my swim, you most certainly do not have all the facts and I will most certainly take the higher road and let it remain a private matter. As you said, you're not one for sticking your beak in but apparently that is not true at all, as evidenced by this message.

I did not cancel my swim - my piloting paperwork was lost, I was never put on the email list (the one you've cc'ed with your message, which is also a very mature and dignified thing to do), I misunderstood my pilot booking for the registration and my swim was canceled for me, with Mark Oram sending me a vicious email calling me "incompetent." I have never met him in person. Fortunately, CSA said they would register me last-minute so that I could swim for my charity - a boy with no legs. Saturday the 4th was taken by another swimmer on my tide and Sunday way the first possible day, but my pilot did not want to go. In fact, no swims have gone with my pilot since Saturday the 4th.

While you may have the financial ability to afford hotels, food and so on for weeks on end to make your crossing, I do not. I am a student who has worked for charities his whole life. I'm a first-generation college graduate who has worked tooth and nail for everything in my life and I could not afford to just "wait it out" for a day to swim. Life, for me, had to carry on and I was then able to donate an additional $3000 to the young boy's fund for prosthetic limbs that I was swimming to support. As I mentioned numerous times in my retelling of the story, getting to France stopped being my primary objective several weeks ago. I was under the impression - made by most people on the beach - that crossing the channel is a personal journey and I sit here wondering why you feel the need to find a way to make my experience about you. That, Rick, is extremely upsetting.

I'd like to finish with what - to me - is the most vile portion of your message - that I did not thank the beach crew. I had a massive banner made that said across the top: "Many thanks to Freda, Irene, Barry, Louise and Michelle. You are Saints." I handed personal thank you notes to each of them on the beach last weekend. I brought thank you gifts to each of them when I visited home in California. I have been nothing but thankful to them throughout this entire process.

While my experience may not have worked out the way YOU wanted it to, it most certainly worked out the way I wanted it to. You do not know me, just as I do not know you. I would never assume to understand your life until learning about it from you. It's a shame that you chose to express yourself in this way instead of taking the time to fully understand me and my experience.

Regardless, best of luck with your crossing this year. Just as I learned a great deal and had my life fundamentally changed by the entire journey, I hope it has done and will continue to do the same for you.


Kyle Taylor

P.S. If you can forward my reply to the entire listserv, I would greatly appreciate it. Because my paperwork was lost, I was never added to that list and so never received any information sent over it.


Kyle Taylor

A Break From Swimming

As I had mentioned a few weeks back, my oldest friend in the world - Carly - tied the knot! Amidst the festivities was this little nugget of happiness: The ultimate reception dance-off, which I naturally took part in! Just a nice little something to keep my mind OFF of the big swim! Enjoy!


Kyle Taylor

09 July 2009

More Pictures!

Lots more photos are on flickr! Get there by clicking here! In the meantime, I'm taking a break in Wales and Scotland. Woohoo!


Kyle Taylor

08 July 2009

When It’s Time, It’s Time

We drove down to the coast Saturday night and I was ready to go. Everything looked good - the weather, the tides, the swimsuit, the “feeding...” I did a short one-hour “fitness” swim and we headed to dinner. That’s when the call came - high winds, no go. Not sure when we can fit you in again. Shock. How could I wait? I was ready now. Another week of pining over this and I would potentially go completely mad. The pilot says he’ll meet me in the morning to talk options. I attempt to calm down.

The evening progresses and my head is spinning. My Mom is here. The team is here. I am mentally HERE. A week could turn into a month. A month into next season. I am no fun. The morning comes. I talk with the pilot. No space the rest of the season, but a possible cancellation at the end of the month. Possible cancellation. Another month of waiting. The expense of lodging, food and the like. My Masters degree. Mom is here now. The team is here now. I am ready now.

The decision is made. I’ve got to do something now with this frame of mind. I need to target this focus. I need to prove to myself I can do it. “I’ll swim a marathon in the harbour instead. I’ll prove to myself I can do it. We’ll save the thousands of dollars it costs to rent a pilot boat. More money for Harvey. A way to close this chapter of my life and still feel like I’ve done something amazing. It is on.

I’m in the zone. Sunscreen on. Suit On. Vaseline On. Cap On. Goggles On. Crocs On. The final walk down the pebbly beach of Dover. “This is it,” I say to myself. “Lets bring it home.” I chuck my Crocs to shore. This is between me and the breaker wall now.

Hours one, two and three go slow. There are no half-hour feeding stops on shore. The cold sinks in, as usual, just after the second hour mark. I come in to feed at three hours and I’m shivering. “I’m cold,” I shout to the beach. “Remember what your coach said,” Lianne reminds me. “You’re not going to get any colder.” Realization. Happiness. “Oh my gosh, I’m not!” Back to the water I go.

My mind twirls on about the good weekends and the bad. What I’m going to say afterward. The knowledge that this could be my last dip in Dover Harbour. Happiness. The cold starts to fade. The soreness in my shoulders diminishes. It is on. Now all I need to do is kick the hip pain. I get to the wall at four and a half hours and am greeted by a swarm of jellyfish. How about we split the harbour equally between us? Thoughts? Reactions?

The half-hour feeds make things easier. “Just to the wall and back,” I tell myself, again and again. It becomes my mantra. “Wall and back. Wall and back. Wall and back.” Suddenly I’m at hour five. Aditi and Lianne give me new topics each time so I don’t get bored. Name a song that starts with every letter of the alphabet. My perfect partner. How to improve LSE. Biscuits vs. Cookies. I’m in a zone. My hips loosen up and nothing can stop me. My mind is busy, my pull is strong, my legs are coming with me.

At six and a half hours people start showing up. I am greeted on the beach by a swarm of friends and of course, my amazing mother. They’re with me, and their energy begins to recharge my batteries. John tosses the feeding bottle to me and I sip it quickly. The cold is completely gone now. Just two more hours and I’m there.

My mind drifts back to the first two hours. “If I could do those, I can do these.” Now, all of a sudden, I’m thinking about how I’ll miss all of this. Not spending endless hours cold on Saturday and Sunday, but pushing my limits. Doing something human beings should not do to help someone in need. I decide that something must come next. Something equally difficult but a touch warmer.

Without warning I’m in for my last feed. Just 30 more minutes to hit the near marathon marker. I’m churning away - lots more effort to go a distance that now seems quite far away. My mind drifts back to the first hours. I begin to wonder if I’ll cry, laugh, smile, feel indifferent. I begin to wonder how I should feel. How I should react. A happy dance is definitely in the cards. I reach the wall for the last time. It feels good.

My arms are flailing and my legs are dragging behind as I pass the last beach marker. My hands are hitting the sand below. I can stand up and walk in! The smile comes. So does the happy dance! I did it. I did something I never thought possible. Pushed my limits beyond reasonable, and all in the name of service.

In that moment I may have never been more at peace. I did it and no one can ever take that away from me. Next stop: Kilimanjaro.

You can still support Harvey online by clicking here. Thank you!


Kyle Taylor

06 July 2009

Channel Swim Becomes A Dover Marathon

When life hands you lemons but you really need oranges, just make lemonade. That sort-of sums up what happened vis-a-vis my Channel swim. The bags were packed, the crew was on time, but then the darn wind hit 40mph and I was beached.

My pilot wasn't comfortable going Sunday with the wind, and was certain it would carry into Monday and Tuesday as well, which meant my assigned swim window was closed. He had some additional dates at the end of July but unfortunately, I don't have the money to stay and wait for the next month and my Mom and support crew could only be here through the 14th of this month.

I wanted to do something big while they were here for them, for me and for the 4-year old boy who lost both his legs to meningitis who I was swimming for. We had all the Maxim mixed, all the snacks prepped and I was in the mental zone, so I decided to prove something to myself in the Harbour, which has been my worst enemy these past 10 weeks. That way, no matter what happens, I’d have that accomplishment and no one could take it away from me. So swim I did. 25 miles, in fact, and an average crossing of the Channel is usually roughly 22 miles. The water was still freezing (60 degrees, which I braved for nearly 9 hours), the wind was still blowing at 40 mile-an-hour gusts and the water was still rough. The difference - I started and finished on a beach in England. The final feeling - Incredible!

It was so amazing to do it surrounded by family and friends. As many Channel swim regulars have said: this whole experience can be life-changing, and it has been for me as well. I've learned so much about myself and about my motivations. Somewhere along the way it stopped being about getting to France for me and started being about sharing this journey with everyone in my life, beating the cold water and doing all I could to help Harvey run.

I started to realize, in many ways, how selfish this whole thing had become - everyone waiting around for me to swim, spending nearly $3,000 on a pilot boat, sucking the time and energy of everyone around me just so I could say "I swam the Channel." This was supposed to be about challenging myself to do something physically incredible and re-ignite what swimming means to me while raising money for Harvey; a young boy who is in need of so much compared to my - in perspective - rather selfish desire to "say I did it." My decision became clearer and clearer. So, seeing no real opportunity to swim to France for countless reasons (at which point I could have just walked away) I decided to face my personal challenge and donate the $3000 I would have spent to cross the Channel directly to Harvey.

These past 10 weeks have been brutal on me mentally, emotionally and physically. The thought of waiting for something that I felt I no longer needed to do to prove something to myself was just too much. Instead, it had become about the fear of what people would think or say if it became impossible to do it. The politics, the stress and the lack of ability to do anything else had been wearing on me for months. Knowing there was a “third way” to prove to myself what I needed to prove while doing even more for Harvey seemed so “me,” if that makes sense.

That's the story. I hope I haven't disappointed anyone or let any of you down. I am on cloud nine at the moment and totally satisfied with how it went, and that's all I wanted - to beat my fears and help Harvey. I hope I did that, and inspired a few folks along the way. Life is unpredictable but as friends have taught me:

You must adjust to circumstances beyond your control.
You can’t live every day in fear of what others might think.
There is more than one way to do something.
Putting service above self can be an even greater accomplishment than any one feat, larger or small.
Suit, goggle and cap tans can be wildly uneven and rather hilarious.

Additionally, I think we may have invented a new swimming challenge - the Dover Open-Water Marathon: Further than the Channel, 3000 times cheaper, just as cold.


Kyle Taylor

04 July 2009


Just a quick note to let you know I'm heading down to the coast to be prepped for the big swim! From this point forward, you'll be able to check my status on twitter either JUST TO THE RIGHT ON THIS PAGE or directly on my Twitter page at: http://twitter.com/kyletaylor. You can get there by clicking here also.



Kyle Taylor

03 July 2009

UPDATE: It's looking like Sunday

Just a quick update. It's looking like the big swim is going to be on Sunday. No final confirmations just yet (as the weather, tides, etc. could naturally change), but that's the scoop at the moment!

6AM, Folkestone Harbour, England.



Kyle Taylor

01 July 2009

American University Rocks!

I could go on for eons about how amazing my Alma Mater is, but I'll just leave it to this for now. They were kind enough to put the Channel story on their HOME PAGE! Not sure if it'll be there when you click this link, but I grabbed the snapshot above at about 8am Wednesday EST. The full story is here if it's gone already!

Thank you AU! Just days away now...


Kyle Taylor

The Final Training Weekend

The jig is up. I don’t like going to Dover to swim in the harbor. It is exhausting, painful, cold and miserable. In fact, I don’t know of anything in my life I have dreaded this much. I can barely sleep the night before because my heart is racing and my mind won’t turn off. Then, after the swim, now that I’m doing 6 hours in the hot sun, I radiate heat for days, sweating right through my clothes while I sit, stand and even sleep. I eat everything in site and since I’m supposed to gain as much weight as possible, this eating usually consists of junk food (which is really not my favorite).

Needless to say, knowing this would be my last weekend of training (and Saturday my last LONG swim), I was both dreading and anticipating the trips down. Fortunately, John (the Rotary Dad) offered to drive me down both days and crash at his place. This is an excellent option, as the food is amazing, the conversation is interesting and the sofas has powered recliners built in.

My other issue is that I like the “big game.” That is, I did 6 on the day I had to do six because I had to do six. On the actual day, I’ll [hopefully] swim to France because I have to swim to France. If you tell me to do something, I’ll just do it. Now, having made my qualifier and not actually enjoying the experience of swimming in the frigid harbor, I just want it all to be over with. Many have asked me, “if you knew what this was going to entail would you still have done it?” I am incredibly tempted to say “no.”

In the end, however, knowing it was my last swim and wanting to prove to myself that I could repeat six hours, I put my head down, got my mind drifting to the next six months (planning each and every day with explicit detail) and I took it one hour at a time. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.

Unfortunately, the weather isn’t looking to great the next several days, which means I may be swimming toward the end of my tide and not near the beginning. I just want it to happen so I can get on with my life! 10-month build-up, 8 weeks training in Dover and now the waiting game...

Please send me happy thoughts. I’m in desperate need of MANY.


Kyle Taylor