Friends, family, work colleagues and even complete strangers from across the world tracked my progress on line yesterday as I attempted to swim the infamous water's of the English Channel.
Those who did so will have seen the my pilot boat, Connemare, turned back slightly short of the French coast.
Here is why:
We had been holed up in Folkestone, waiting for the wind to drop sufficiently to attempt a crossing. A narrow weather window of 18 hours was forecast, and we took the earliest possible start on Wednesday 20th August. With my crew of Alistair MacLeod and son my Connagh, together with the film crew who have been following my preperative journey, we met at the harbour at 05:00.
Just over an hour later we arrived at our designated start point and I began my swim.
The seas were being blown by a fair-to-steady force 3. Aside from a few minor jellyfish stings and an encounter with a vast Maersk container ship, I made great process towards the French coast, arriving at this point within just 11hours.
With just 2.8 miles to go, I was within the zone that the majority of swims are abandoned. This infamous coastline has currents that push swimmers away from the coast, and all the skill of the safety pilot is brought to bear on getting the swimmer onto shore.
I was doing well, and success looked certain.
The Channel had other ideas.
Literally from nowhere, the storm that was predicted to arrive at midnight appeared early. The sea turned violent and angry, with swells of two meters making it impossible for me to see land - France or England. In these conditions, swimmers quickly become disoriented.
I still had strength left, and without the change in conditions I'm convinced I would have made it. But the boat pilot is responsible for the safety of his crew, passengers and swimmer. After I'd disappeared under the waves several times, and even under the bow of the violently rocking boat, the captain had seen enough. I'd been pushed out to three miles from shore, and we'd made no progress for an hour.
At the pilot's say (which is final) the attempt was abandoned for safety concerns after swimming for just over 11 hours.
Disappointed though I was not to make land, the pilot assured me no one alive could have swim against those waves and a 3.5 knot tide. I had no reason to regret any lack of training or mental or physical resolve - the Channel had simply closed its doors to swimmers from that point.
Once on board and wrapped up in warm, dry clothes and a sleeping bag, I saw that I had four text messages and 54 emails confirming donations. My disappointment was eclipsed by the knowledge that my true goal, to raise £10,000 for Acorns, had been achieved. The swim was 'just' a means by which to do this, and unsuccessful though it was, that sum had been raised.
Many, many thanks to everyone who followed and supported me. I hope you can take comfort in knowing I did everything I possibly could to justify your donations and your belief in me.
One time soldier, part-time author, full-time training manager, husband and father.