Baylor Tri-Masters and Middle School Coach Jenny Smith successfully completed an ultra distance swim across the English Channel on Monday, Aug. 14, at approximately 9:45 a.m. EST. Coach Smith finished the swim in 11 hours 13 minutes and 16 seconds, and swam a total of 28 miles. The swim started at Samphire Hoe (in between Folkestone and Dover), and to finished at or near Cap
Gris Nez, France (near Calais).
Coach Smith has been an open water distance swimmer for years, and she has been training and planning for this swim for two years. The distance across the English Channel is approximately 21 miles or 32 kilometers. She is an endurance athlete, completing multiple full distance triathlons, open water swims in Ireland, California, Vermont, and Peru.
Ms. Smith coaches masters and middle school swimming at The Baylor School, Chattanooga, TN and is a yoga and meditation teacher at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Her swim was piloted by Captain Andy King and First Mate James King aboard the Louise Jane.
Her husband, Will, and their two sons Max, 15, and Zane, 13, were her support crew.
The English Channel is a unique and demanding swim, considered by many to be the ultimate long distance challenge. It isn't just the distance that is the challenge, but more, the variable conditions that you are likely to encounter. These may vary for mirror like conditions to wind force 6 and wave heights in excess of 2 meters.
The water is cold and, there is a good chance of meeting jellyfish, seaweed and the occasional plank of wood. It is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world with 600 tankers passing through and 200 ferries/seacats and other vessels going across daily.
Here is her account of the experience:
"My swim to France was surreal and an euphoric experience.
"My coach and dear friend was Anne Cleveland for the past two years. She passed this June from pancreatic cancer. I really miss her, and she was planning on being on the Louise Jane, with Captain Andy, First Mate James, Will (my husband), Max and Zane (our two teenage sons). Unfortunately, she was part of the crew in a different way.
"Somewhere, over half the distance to France, a very, large, long, white, with a whiter star marked on its belly, with large, wide pectoral fins, swam under me. We were belly to belly. I stopped and yelled to my crew, 'big fish.' After the swim, Captain Andy asked about the 'big fish.' He said it was a porpoise from the pod that had been swimming alongside me. He said the fishing has not been good in the English Channel for many years, and he was surprised and elated to see the porpoises. It was a good sign, to see them return.
"I know that Anne was with me and pushed me across the channel. In addition, I knew three other swimmers in the Channel that day from Cork Distance Week. I was able to hug my brilliant and most positive friend, John Tierney before his swim on the docks. Also, Rachel Hill who humbly and amazingly was already swimming in the water completing her epic Arch to Arc race! And kind, always smiling Wes Nolan was swimming for awareness and raising money for the Irish Deaf Society.
"I felt every prayer, thought, good vibe, and the cheers from friends and family tracking me. It was fuel for my spirit. My English Channel Crossing was not about me, it was about humanity. Human beings taking care of each other, meaningful relationships, and love. Peace In and Peace Out."