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


crazycatlady said...

i love it

Anonymous said...


I believe that as part of the beach team in Dover I have been supportive of your ambition.

I commend you on your long swim on sunday. Having said that I am more than a little disappointed in you on a number of levels.

To be at the beach without acknowledging the team who have selflessly supported you this summer is disrespectful.

To not so much as thank the pilot who returned your non-refundable £1000 is out right rude.

To claim the same feat of endurance as a channel swim is wildly inaccurate. If you had done your research you would know that tidal influences mean most swimmers swim nearer 30 miles than the direct 21 miles point to point. At no point in the harbour would you experience tidal influences or the extreme mental battle that comes from not being able to see land, followed by further battles when land appears to be withing touching distance for many swimming hours.

To imply that someones decision to fulfill an ambition is a selfish one can only be a statement made without investigation. Maybe you should have a look at how much money has been raised for charity based on the challenge an individual is willing to undertake. I know of at least one swimmer who raised in excess of £50,000.

I have worked full time since the age of 17, supporting myself, regularly donating to charity, and currently give my weekends for free to see people achieve their dreams. This is nothing compared to the work of Freda and co, but you felt within your rights to take their kindness and support and not show them the respect they deserve in return.


Mike said...

Kyle, so you are comparing a swim in Dover harbour with a proper channel swim? Now I have heard it all. The weather when you did your harbour swim was pretty flat and nothing compared to what you would experience out in the channel- I
know because I was there. I am sure you are upset about being able to swim the channel and my hear goes out to you, but trying to big up a 'training swim' and trying to say it was further than the channel is doing you and everyone you have trained with down in Dover a diservice. To make it worse you then go on a rant about how selfish channels wimmers are for wanting to actually swim the channel - unbelievable. I don't think you have the heart or the spirit to swim the channel - you knew that so instead
of trying and failing ( there is no dishonour in that) you decided to bottle out completely and then try and justify it.

crazycatlady said...

Mike and Michelle, you two are such debbie downers....and you are both missing the point entirely. The people who sponsored Kyle were doing so because he was committing an act of charity and demonstrating extreme dedication to his cause. He forfeited study time AND celebrating the last few weeks of post-exam fun with his friends to train and condition himself for what was fully intended to be a channel swim. The fact that it wasn't was no fault of Kyle's, and to say you are disappointed in him or that he was being disrespectful is really a pathetic attitude for someone who says she was "supportive."

Whatever your problem with Kyle and his marathon, a decent person would approach him directly with it and choose a more appropriate medium than facebook and his blog. If you are so perturbed by it, then why don't you just tell him to his face, and take your negative energy elsewhere.

What Kyle did was a contribution, and a noble one at that. I personally donated because I thought he was raising awareness for an amazing cause, NOT because he was going to swim the channel. You're very, very unfortunately missing the point, and considering you (Michelle) claim to be a charitable person yourself, you should hold a greater appreciation for what Kyle tried to do.

I know Kyle was very eager to try the channel swim, and if circumstances beyond his control limited him in that, it is unfortunate. However, to go on a public rant about how disappointed in him you are, and condemn him for comparing his swim to a channel swim (sidebar: you can COMPARE anything you want, it doesn't mean he was equating it) is pathetically laughable. You weren't happy about what he did? Then do something different yourselves; take your hateful attitudes off of your computers, cry me a river, then swim across it and gloat about it to the few people who will want to listen to you by that point.

Mike said...

Firstly I apologise for saying Kyle lacked the heart and spirit to swim the channel – that was totally uncalled for. I met him several times down in Dover but have no right to make that sort of statement. If I see him again I would have no problem saying what I feel to his face.

There is more than one point here crazycatlady – you cannot pick and chose which ones you want to comment on just because Kyle has raised money for charity – well done by the way. But that does not give him the right to fabricate stories.

If he is going to have a PUBLIC blog and then not tell the truth then he has to expect people to point that out. You may call it negative – most people would call it HONESTY! I guess you are just one of those people who think the truth and the facts should never get in the way of a good story.

I am tired of people not taking responsibility for their own failures – especially when it comes to the Cannel. Of course Kyle had not control over the weather, but then who does? If he really wanted this then he could have got another slot – he knows it and anyone with any knowledge of twhat goes on knows it. It is fine that he chose not too do that – but don’t try to justify it with untruths because you will be caught out.

And in defence of Michelle she has helped more people achieve their dreams than you can ever imagine – if it was not for her a lot of charities would be not be as fortunate. You don’t see her crowing about it do you?

I won’t post on here again, but good luck with Kilimanjaro Kyle, having climbed it twice it is a great challenge. Perhaps you can save some money by doing it on a Stairmaster and just write a blog saying you have done it…and then have a go at the people who have done it for real?

wizard from Oz said...


I have read with interest and amazement your blog story. Firstly, congratulations for raising money for charity, now for some facts, you claim there were 40 mph winds on Sunday in the harbour. The harbour was totally flat, as many other swimmers did as you did, a training swim, for 6 and 7 hours. If you do not wish to swim the channel that is fine but how dare you not respect the ambitions, dreams, and bloddy hard work of many swimmers who have befriended you during the season, let alone your lack of respect for the volunteers who gave up their time and energy to support you in your quest. I have e-mailed and received no reply, i would gladly talk to you face to face, however the chances of seeing you on the beach I feel are quite remote. I have been in Dover since late May, supporting myself as I am from australia and I am raising money for MS. I take offence at being called selfish, and having been out in the channel for 17 and 20 hours repectively, a Dover training sim is just that, a training swim. Michelle is absolutely correct, you can not compare a harbour swim to the channel. I am swimming later next week and there will certainly be a swim slot, you can not pick the perfect day, but mate, Saturday July 4th, was, and where were you?

Wizard from Oz

Anonymous said...

I have no problem speaking with individuals face to face, although it would appear that Kyle took the first opportunity to up sticks and leave town.

I will not accept anyone belittleing the people I see work so hard, for their personal ambitions and great causes beyond that. Had Kyle chossen to make his statements in private I would have replied accordingly.

And I have every right to voice an opinion on the treatment of the team on the beach. They are good people who put themselves out for others,without recompense, some might call it charity.

This will be my last post on Kyles fairy tale website. I hope he sets himself more achieveable goals in the future.


Anonymous said...

Dear Michelle, Mike, and Wizard from Oz;

Firstly, I would greatly appreciate the use of a 'spell-check' device as I presume that words that are spelled correctly would give more weight to your harebrained 'arguments.'

Now. Having read Kyle's blog entry three times now, nowhere do I see him calling others 'selfish' for choosing the swim the channel. Instead, he highlights the process of the choice he made FOR HIMSELF. As it is his life, he can make any choice he wants. He set a challenge for himself and he accomplished it. This could have been anything. Walking 5km. Running 10km. Do you also belittle women who walk 5km for cancer because it's not as arduous as a channel swim? I didn't think so. Nor does Kyle belittle those who swim the channel. I have heard him talk about how inspirational those people are for many days now.

As it is KYLE'S BLOG he can talk about himself as much as he wants, however he wants. Mike: I don't think this is the time or place to discuss the merits of Web 2.0 and its contribution to a public sphere. If you'd like to discuss qualities of Web 2.0 further, just ask for my e-mail and I'd be happy to indulge your philosophical musings.

Nowhere in his blog does he belittle the process or the people swimming the channel - indeed, a difficult, arduous and challenging task.

I think your negative reactions to his blog entry say a lot more about you folk than it does about Kyle.

I suggest that you take your negative energies and 'channel' (pun most definitely intended) them to more productive endeavors.

Anonymous said...

michelle, mike, and ozzie....you guys are



Anonymous said...

The only loser here seems to be Kyle - just a heap of self-important hot air! I unfortunately met him down in Dover and found him a whingeing, whiny little baby - I knew straight away that he would never swim the channel.

From his blog:

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.

As many Channel swim regulars have said: this whole experience can be life-changing, and it has been for me as well.

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."

Hmmm, a perfect case of well I can read but I can't understand hey anonymous. If you cannot see that he is comparing what he did to swimming the channel, then my friend you are a bit slow.

How ironic that his blog is titled Don't Escape Reality. Change It.

He has certainly lost his grip on reality.

Alan C

Kyle Taylor said...


Please, lets stop this back-and-forth bickering. I did not say and would never say that Channel swimmers are selfish. My blog - about me - focused entirely on how it was becoming a selfish process for me. No one else knows what goes on behind the scenes in my life and yet all feel totally obliged to share their thoughts and opinions on how I live it.

What's disappointing is that, somehow, everyone managed to make my experience about them. It wasn't. It was about Harvey, the Rotary and my own life.

I will not be posting again on this stream - "my fairytale website." I do stand by everything I said as accurate. I swam for nearly 9 hours in the Harbour averaging 21-minute miles, totaling just under 25 miles. The winds were blowing and the water was choppy and cold. That's that.

I also hope that each of you find your own inner peace on this. I have most certainly found mine. Best of luck to all Channel swimmers in their training and crossing!


Molly said...

Love the AU swim cap!

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