An overture but no finale…
Grant Siedle got three quarters of the way to France and land was in sight before he was pulled from the water suffering from fatigue and hypothermia, greatly disappointed but determined that this was not going to be the end of it.
It had taken a long time for the day to arrive, with poor weather, rain and rough seas for over two weeks before
Grant’s opportunity finally arrived. Grant’s pilot, Eddie Spelling, in the Anastasia, is an experienced cross-channel swim pilot and assured Grant that it would be better to wait for the right conditions. Grant’s team – Greg Maher (project manager), Dave Nelson (media) and Willo (feeder) – have been supporting his attempt and having a few dips in the cold and choppy English Channel whilst waiting for the right swimming conditions.
The swim finally got underway at 2.30am British summer time on Wednesday 25 July with calm conditions and a top of 27 degrees expected – considerably better than the 16 degrees of the previous week.
All was going well, with messages of every type, including encouragement from supporters in the UK and Australia, being relayed via a whiteboard.
At around midday, Grant was showing signs of fatigue, and the cold was getting to him, despite the fact that he had managed to put on over 10kg in the six months leading up to the swim.
At about 9 1/2 hours, with Grant struggling to make progress and showing signs of hypothermia, Willo had to break it to him that it was not going to be, this time.
With the “Gris Nez” (grey nose) in view, it was a tough decision but the only one to make.
“I am disappointed not to get to the other side but as Boris Becker said after losing Wimbledon, it wasn’t a war and nobody died! My friends Willo, Greg and Dave looked after me very well with the watching, the feeding and the recovery,” Grant recalls.
“When hypothermia sets in it really plays tricks on your mind and I have no recollection of being pulled out and then dried and warmed up on deck.”
Once he warmed up, Grant recovered quickly and pulled up well the next day and tweeted, “…resting up after a learning experience in the English channel. Lovely overture, but no finale. Crew outstanding. I’ll be back….”
This is a hard swim, the pinnacle of open water swimming – cold, tough tides, no wetsuits allowed and you have to tread water during feeding breaks – no holding on to the boat.
Grant made a valiant attempt – over 9 hours swimming is an outstanding achievement. Grant’s support of Autism Spectrum Disorder through this, as well as Giants of the Bay, is something that we are very grateful for.
Well done, Grant on your swim – you didn’t quite achieve what you wanted to do, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an amazing effort which showed grit and determination. We are very proud of you Grant.
Thank you to everyone who has supported Grant. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of him….