Saturday, 1 September 2007

Dear Mrs. Rainey & her class:

I am so happy that you all are interested in my swim and this blog. It has made my decade.

It had been my dream to swim the English Channel since I was about your age...I guess it took a while to fulfill that dream. I have swam since I can remember and competed in races since I was about your age. For the last eight months, I have trained very hard in the ocean near Santa Monica, California, where I live. The ocean here is similiar to the English Channel in that it is about the same temperature. That is a huge advantage because there are many people who want to swim the English Channel who do not have easy access to the ocean or cold water.

Speaking of cold water, it was 64 degrees on the day I swam. It is supposed to get a bit warmer as you get closer to France, but I sure did not feel it. I felt so great when I finished and made it to France, but the last three hours of the swim were very hard. I threw up after swimming 8 hours which made me feel very weak and cold, and I still had three hours and 21 minutes to go. Fortunately my girlfriend Liz (Mrs. Rainey's niece) and my friend from college, Mike Coyle, kept me going by cheering me on. They had more confidence in me than I had in myself. I was shivering constantly for those last hours. I was very tired and cold when I finished, but the boat's captain put me in a sleeping bag, and I guzzled 6 cups of scalding hot coffee. That brought me around. Now, I am so grateful to everyone with whom I trained and was so supportive of my goal. It is amazing how many people will help you when you just let them.

I am sure that many of you are great swimmers and that you swim in the Mary T. Meagher Center in Louisville. I swam there when I was in Louisville in June. It is a great pool and Mary T. Meagher was a great Olympic swimmer from Louisville. I hope that I may visit you all when I am in Louisville next. I hope that you visit me if you are ever in California. We can go surfing. That is a bit more fun than just swimming around in the ocean. Thank you again, Gino Hanrahan

Saturday, 25 August 2007


That's right Gino made it across the Channel today!

He started at 8am from a beach between Dover and Folkestone, England and after swimming 11 hours and 21 minutes he finished on the shores of France at 7:21pm.

Needless to say he is exhausted and was quite hypthermic when he finished. We managed to warm him back up on the boat and now he is resting peacefully in bed though he has a very nasty cough that will likely need to be checked out when we return to the States.

Many, many thanks to all of Gino's family and friends and my family and friends for supporting his effort. You would all have been very impressed... he never gave up and did a great job accomplishing this goal.

Thanks again everyone!

Friday, 24 August 2007


• Speedo
• Goggles
• earplugs
• swimcap
• perpetuem carb powder drink mix
• 8 different water bottles
• advil
• electrolyte pills
• vaseline (the modern day Channel "grease")
• anti-fog drops
• towels
• warm clothing
• video camera
• still camera
• light sticks (in case Gino has to swim at night)
• GU ( a delicious nutritional snack)
• sunscreen
• rope to clip the water bottles to
• white board (for any messages to Gino during the swim... remember he'll have in earplugs)
• powerade
• honey (to flavor the carb drink mix)
• tea (also to flavor the carb drink mix)
• mouthwash (so Gino can get the nasty salt water taste out of his mouth periodically)
• duct tape (b/c you can use duct tape for nearly anything)

I think we're ready for Saturday morning!

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Swimming in the Rain

The Weather Breaks

Two-day forecast is for calm seas and sunny skies. In other words, awesome coditions. My Captain will pilot an Aussie swimmer named Duncan Adams tomorrow morning, and we are a go for Saturday. As we have seen, the weather changes rapidly around here, but all indicators show a great day for the attempt on Saturday. We are eager.

This morning after breakfast, Liz and I spoke at length with Lynne Smith, a fellow American, who crossed the Channel in 9:50 on Monday in heavy seas. She told us that she climbed boulders to finish her swim and was extremely generous with advice and good wishes. We also learned more about the Victoria Guest House where we are staying. Channel swimming royalty such as Marcy MacDonald and Anne Cleveland have stayed here.

Thanks again for the comments. I feel like you all are staying in the hotel room with us. Adios, Gino.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Forrest Says...

Over the past 6 months I've heard those two words out of Gino's mouth more than anything else.

For those of you who don't know... Forrest Nelson has become a good friend of Gino's and has been helping him train for the swim across the Channel. Forrest has a number of amazing swimming feats under his belt, including swimming around the island of New York , Oahu to Molokai, Catalina and the English Channel so he has become our de facto swim Guru over the past few months.

When I ask Gino questions like "what will you eat?", he says "Forrest says I should eat Hammer Perpetuem Powder" or "how often do I feed you", his response is "Forrest says I should feed every 1/2 hour" or when I ask "why do some swimmers wear earplugs" Gino responds "Forrest says earplugs keep you warmer". There are many others..."Forrest says I should have mouthwash available during the swim to get rid of the taste of saltwater", "Forrest says I should just keep swimming an hour or so a day during my taper."

To be honest Forrest could probably tell Gino that he should leave England fly back tonight to LA and swim Catalina this weekend and I think we would be sitting here on this computer changing our flights instead of blogging.

So... these are things I am planning on telling Gino during the swim... "Forrest says swim faster", "Forrest says its really not that cold", "Forrest says the coast of France is just ahead" and I'm absolutely sure Gino will believe me and keep swimming.

But in all seriousness... thank you Forrest for all your help, you've been an incredible source of inspiration and knowledge to both Gino and I throughout the training and I hope to continue to impart all your positive energy to Gino during the swim...
and if you could do me one favour upon our return... tell Gino that he should take his girlfriend to Bali for vacation... he seems to listen to you.


Early Experiments with Channel Grease

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

"If you don't like the weather, wait a minute."

That is the story so far here in Dover. One minute sunshine and calm - driving rain and cold the next.

In some ways this is the perfect holiday (note British usage). Get up around ten...go for a few times...repeat. It is rather like surfing trip in a tropical paradise minus the palm trees, surf, and warm water.

There are swimmers from all over. Aussies, Spaniards, Russians...even Texans. On Monday night a woman named Lynne Smith from Texas swam the Channel in something like 9 hrs and 50 minutes. That is a very fast time...fastest this summer so far. We are moving from our B&B to hers tomorrow morning for good luck.

I have swam in the Dover Harbor each day for about an hour or so to stay acclimated to the cool water (about 64 degrees). At this point, I prefer water at that temperature. I feel like I could swim for a long time, which is good because I will have to shortly.

Liz and I have taken a couple of sidetrips. I have been driving our styling Mercedes sedan. I believe I shall trade-in my Insight for one upon my return. We've gone to Canterbury cathedral and a seaside town called Deal. One cannot help but notice that England was around for a long time before the United States was even a glimmer in someone's eye.

Liz and I have been getting along well at least partly because I try to emphasize to her every day how grateful I am that she is here with me and that I am not brooding here alone in Dover waiting to swim. Mike Coyle has been great too as he has expressed great confidence in my abilities, and we laugh so much about our undergraduate days.

Well, long rambling post...huh? Thank you all so much for your comments. We love to read them. Love to all, Gino.

Is it Winter?

I'm typing as Gino is taking a little nap and hopefully he'll post something later tonight.

I'm calling this one "is it winter?" because last night it truly felt like a very chilly winter evening in Santa Monica. So... that might give you an idea of the current status of the weather. It is truly ever-changing... today it was pouring rain at one moment, windy the next and then sunny and warm in the afternoon. That being said it's looking like change might be on its way for the end of the week. Please keep up the good weather vibes for Gino.

The past two days have been filled with a couple side trips. We drove with Mike C. yesterday to Canterbury. The last time I was there I had just turned 16 so it has been 17 years since I had been there but it was much as I remember it. The cathedral there is beautiful and we toured through it and the very charming, cobblestoned streets. Gino took a 45 minute swim in the afternoon and then his usual 5-6pm nap :-)

This morning we took a drive down to the town of Folkestone, where our boat the Pathfinder is docked.... you can see in the picture that unless we are at high tide the boat isn't exactly going anywhere (the Pathfinder is the blue boat in the center). We also stopped and hiked around an area called Samphire Hole, an area created by all the displaced land when they dug the Chunnel and also nearby to where Gino will officially start his swim.

We cruised back to Dover and Gino swam for an hour and we spent the rest of the afternoon in the Town Square of Dover having tea and looking for gatorade.

We move out of our current accomodations tomorrow to take up residence in a little B&B in town called the Victoria, which is closer to the harbour and town centre and Mr. Mike Coyle.

Thanks for the comments on the blog... we get very, very excited to hear from everyone!

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Sunday in Kent

Liz here....
We woke up this morning to some drizzling rain. After breakfast Duncan and Jeanette kindly picked us up and gave us a lift down to the harbour. Gino plopped himself in the water and swam for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. At this point you would think he had just stepped out of a relaxing bath after swimming that long. He never seems to shiver anymore and always emerges with a big grin on his face. There were a number of other swimmers down there this morning... some relay teams, some single crossers and even an 18 year old girl who is gearing up for a double crossing... WOW.
We rented a car later this afternoon and drove up to another seaside town called Deal for lunch. Again, Gino did an excellent job of adapting to the very narrow English roads and that whole driving on the "wrong" side of the road thing. Deal was a very cute little town and we look forward to more afternoon adventures while we wait out the weather.
Mike Coyle arrived this afternoon and he'll be here with us through the week to help out on the boat and to help keep Gino's spirits high. Mike is great and its fun to have another person along for the journey.
We headed into town for dinner this evening at a great little Italian place called "Dino's". As we were leaving, Allison Streeter, the Queen of the Channel was arriving for dinner. Gino looked how I must have looked when I met Pete Townsend... I think he was a little starstruck and Mike did a good job of breaking the ice and introducing them.
As for the swim... Capt. Eric tells us tomorrow is a no go so we'll head down to the harbour for a morning swim then likely head out on another afternoon adventure.
Keep sending us good weather wishes :-)

Saturday, 18 August 2007

We have arrived

Liz and I arrived at our hotel in Dover at the Swingate Inn late last night. We flew directly to London from LAX on American. Despite the press about Heathrow customs etc., things went very smoothly. We took a couple of trains from Heathrow and here we are.

We met our captain, Eric, this afternoon. He is a great guy, and we talked about weater and swimming, of course. He drove us down to the harbor where we happened to meet his other swimmer on this tide, an Aussie named Duncan and his girlfriend Jeanette. I swam with Duncan for about an hour in the harbor while Liz talked with Jeanette on the beach. The water was fine, similar to Santa Barbara, but choppy with the 20 knot wind. Immediate forecast is for more of the same. Neap tide begins on Monday, August 20 and continues to August 25. Hopefully, a lull will develop during that time.

Anway spirits are high, and I was relieved that the water temperature seemed manageable. Now we just have to wait for the wind to die down a bit, and we'll go. Adios for now, Gino