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On Friday 2 July my team, Cinq au Swim, and I managed our channel relay swim! It took us 16 hours 47 minutes, and was not without its challenges!!

The actual swimming was fine.. In the most part! Unfortunately, the constant motion and slow speed of the boat meant that I was very unwell. I wasn't alone in being sick, with Justine (swimmer 3) joining me hanging over the edge of the boat on a regular basis. Pretty much the only time I wasn't being sick was when I was swimming! I didn't manage any rest at all, as I was so ill! 

Team Cinq au Swim! From l to r: Emma Carter-Biggs, Sophie Smith, Liesl Norris, Phoebe Critchlow and Justine LedwithTeam Cinq au Swim! From l to r: Emma Carter-Biggs, Sophie Smith, Liesl Norris, Phoebe Critchlow and Justine Ledwith

At one point, Stuart the boat pilot told me if I couldn't get the sickness under control he wouldn't let me back in. I couldn't risk this, so worked very hard at keeping fluid down. Thankfully I was able to swim again, for the third time, but this swim was very choppy, and I had to swim on the opposite side of the boat, due to the wind... Which meant I got a lot of diesel fumes instead!! Not great!! I crawled (literally) my way through that swim, and at the end, I was absolutely shattered and convinced that I didn't have a fourth swim in me. But, as we came to the end of our third rotation, it became very obvious that both Sophie and I were going to have to go again.

I had been given a scoperderm patch which didn't stop the nausea (as the two anti sickness tablets ended up in the sea!), but did, finally stop the vomiting, meaning I was able to keep down a few handfuls of popcorn and some peppermint tea; the first food I could keep down all day.... (By this time it was about 6pm, so 16 hours since we had left Dover!). Sophie absolutely swam her heart out to bring us close to Cap Blonde Nez, leaving me to finish it off!

Emma nearing France,  swimming next to the support boatEmma nearing France, swimming next to the support boat

I was briefed about what would happen for the last segment, and wearily readied myself. After Sophie nailed it I climbed down the ladder for my last swim. Whether I had enough in me to finish the crossing off remained to be seen. Swimming my absolute heart out, sprinting as hard as I could I just gave it my all. Sea Leopard kept dropping back, and I thought I was nearly there, but each time she came back again!

When I turned to breathe, I could sea Shaun (assistant pilot) readying the dinghy, but he never seemed to get in it! When I thought I must have run out of time, Sea Leopard turned off to the left and I was alone, waiting for the dinghy.. Which came alongside me eventually.. that beach was not getting any closer! 

Made it! Celebrating success in the dinghyMade it! Celebrating success in the dinghy

Until suddenly I realised that Shaun and the dinghy had gone, and the blue water was now yellow with sand. Reaching down, I felt sand beneath my fingers and knew it was done. Finally. I stood, staggered and wobbled my way out of the water, onto the beach. Turning I faced Sea Leopard and whooped my head off.. And heard the klaxon in return. 16 hours and 47 minutes had passed. Team Cinq au Swim had completed the relay! Now just a small matter of getting home again! 

I can truly say, for me, it was the toughest thing I have ever done. The swimming was a welcome relief from vomiting.. Which was the really draining thing. Knowing that being sick wouldn't make it go away was horrendous, and I am not in a hurry to get back on a boat any time soon! The team were awesome. Given we only actually had all five of us together for the first time at 2.15am on Friday morning, we formed a close knit team really quickly, and I know i have at least two very good friends.  

I also smashed my fundraising target, with over £2500 raised for my charity! Which has blown me away! Thank you everyone who sponsored me! I am humbled and truly grateful, and I know my charity is just over the moon. THANK YOU!! 

I think I am now retired! 


You can donate to Mermaids UK, Emma's chosen charity, who support gender diverse young people and their families, providing support and information. 

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