On 22nd August 2006 at midnight, Ed arrived on the beaches of Calais after swimming 26 miles across the English Channel. Below is a diary entry of the swim which was dictated 3 hours after returning to England whilst the memories were still fresh in his mind.
“A years hard work has finally paid off. Yesterday I swam from Dover to Calais in 14 hours and for the first time in my life I experienced both agony and ecstasy in the same moment. We left Dover at 9.40am and reached Calais at 11.40pm. As we set off from Shakespeare beach, I could feel the sun beating down on my back, as I cut through the calm glass like water. I couldn’t believe my luck with the calmness and warmth of the water. Unfortunately, the sea’s characteristics changed and I spent 10 hours of the swim battling with massive waves that were so big that I could see the deck of the boat as I was lifted by them. As we reached the first shipping lane, I could see gigantic super tankers speeding all around me and I felt like a blade of grass in a rainforest. By this stage the waves were so big that I could clearly see some of my crew members lying on the deck of my pilot boat, but I carried on, battling against the odds. Swimming to France is very difficult to comprehend, so I imagined myself swimming from feed to feed every half hour. After 8 hours, we had reached the middle of the channel and all I could see was water in every direction, there was no land in site. Physically I felt fine, but psychologically I was beginning to suffer, as I envied the people on the boat hugely. One second I would be happy and laughing inside, the next I would be swearing at my crew and crying inside. I was wondering how I could justify getting out and thinking of excuses to tell people. I felt multiple personalities battling and arguing with each other inside my own body and thankfully the positives outweighed the negatives. As a huge waved lifted me to the same level as the roof of the boat, I saw France and knew that I must continue.”
“During my 14 hours of swimming, I covered 26 miles and experienced every emotion that one can feel. 3 hours before the end, as darkness set in, I was in a very bad psychological state and was convinced that I was going to get out. However, I could not face the embarrassment of having wasted a year of my life and having to tell people that I failed and more importantly failing myself, so I put my head down, picked up my stroke rate and sprinted for 3 hours, which was the most painful experience of my life. As I was sprinting, I could see the lights of France all around me and the darkness didn’t seem so depressing anymore. Above me I could see the midnight sky every time I turned to breathe, littered with stars and the magic of the situation filled me with awe and a new found determination to succeed. I could see huge jellyfish illuminated beneath me by the light of the moon, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to reach my goal. My muscles were on fire, my kidneys were pounding, as I was unable to go to the toilet and my internal organs felt like jelly. Before I knew it, the escort boat was behind me and a dinghy was escorting me into France. I could feel my eyes rolling in my head as the hypothermia started to set in. Suddenly, I felt a wave starting to catapult me towards the beach, followed by another one and I knew I was close. As emotion welled up inside me, I felt myself touch rock. I held onto that rock as hard as I could and pulled myself out of the water with my last ounce of strength. As I did so, a piece of the rock came away in my hand. I put it down my trunks so that I would have a souvenir to remember the greatest experience of my life.”
“I heard a foghorn sound in the distance, signifying the end of my marathon, as the reality of the situation set home. I removed my goggles, looked up at the sky, as a life time dream became a reality. As the light house of Cape Gris Nez, illuminated the ocean around me, I swam back to the dinghy, where I had to be dragged from the water and we returned to the main boat, ready to head back to England. I was wrapped up in blankets as I drifted off to sleep, safe in the knowledge that I had joined an elite group of people, as the 676th person and one of the youngest in history to have conquered the Channel.”