30 June 2009

Welcome To The Maison Dieu Guesthouse!

Just a quick shout out to Barry and Di French - owners and operators of Maison Dieu Guesthouse - my Dover home. Absolutely the most adorable rooms, the most delicious breakfast, the most hospitable service and, hands down, the most divine hot cocoa I have ever sipped. Thank you thank you thank you! Click here to find out more and book online!


Kyle Taylor

28 June 2009

Dover Update: Weekend 8. “You’ve Got To Do Six

So, unbeknownst to be, the required 6-hour harbor swim “qualifier” must take place two weeks before your actual swim. Fortunately, i found this out the day before the two-week deadline, which meant the pressure was on this past weekend. Fortunately, I had Lianne in tow to keep me going. “You MUST do six hours today,” Michelle told me. “No problem, it’s in the bag,” I replied, “flashing a thumbs up. Truth be told, I wasn’t feeling my best but I knew - knew - it was either six hours or pack it up.

As usual, the first two hours were horrific. That’s the period where the body transitions from normal human temperature to subhuman freezing temperature and you question how on earth you can actually go on. Then, somehow,you just stop getting colder and slowly but surely get used to the frigid conditions. At the two-hour break Louise was there to ask me how I was doing. “Six hours or bust today,” I told her. “That’s the spirit,” she replied. From that point on I decided to view the last four hours as four one-hour swims with hourly feedings as the interval.

I somehow managed to convince my brain of this scheme as well, and from that point on I just had a few hour-long swims to do. The next one would put me half way, the next would be one away from the last feeding, the next would lead to the last feeding then it was just one final hour, which is TOTALLY doable after you’ve swam all that way!

A few notes on this scheme: the body does, in fact, begin to tire and without notice I was moving markedly slower than hours one through four. The water gets rougher as well, making each stroke a touch more difficult. Every now and then your mind drifts to the immensity of the task ahead and screams at you, “FOUR MORE HOURS? ARE YOU MAD?!?!” It is at these points that I incorporate my new, enhanced “overcome this horror” method: I scream out loud under water as loud as I can. It gets the adrenaline flowing, slightly warms me up and forces a refocus of my mind from the heinous activity I am undertaking to this faux notion that I only have a few one-hour swims left. Regardless, it works.

Let me tell you, when I came out after six hours I felt like I could do anything. Climb Everest? Check. Take exams? Check. World Peace? Done Deal. I was BEAMING. Sunday followed with a 4-hour swim that came to an end as a result of major hip pain (it seems to be the only physical pain I get from all of this - the sensation that my hip flexors may in fact fall off. That would NOT be good.

So here I am, a week away and it’s finally feeling real (as well as scary). I mean, it’s really really scary. Nerves. Anxiety. The works. But I’m feeling confident. Hey, if I can do six hours, what’s six more, right? Especially when I get to land in France and do a happy dance.

More soon. For now, think happy thoughts July 3rd to the 7th. I’ll do my best to post the exact date as soon as I know it!

Swim On, Party Player.


Kyle Taylor

26 June 2009

Dover Update: Weekend 7

Good news - exams are over, which means swimming the Channel is now the only item on my life agenda (for the next few weeks). That’s right, for the past 7 weeks I have been studying, exam-ing and training for Dover all at the same time. It has been exhausting, but totally worth it! After a few hick-ups in planning and coordination, we’re on track for a July 4th-7th swim depending on tides, weather and so on!

That said, these past few weekends have been incredibly tough. I got, as they say, “stuck.” What I mean is that, for whatever reason - mental block, psychological fear, exhaustion or just that I have next to no body fat - I wasn’t able to get past three hours. Then, the weekend before last, out of nowhere I skyrocket to four hours and twenty minutes! It was uncanny. As Irene said so well, “you cracked it. It’s all over now. Nothing stops you once you’ve cracked it.” How right she was. I returned Sunday for a whopping FIVE-HOUR swim, bringing my weekend total to over 20 miles. Not too shabby for a guy with bad shoulders and no body fat. “It’s a head game,” Freda told me, “and you just won.”

“You were beaming when you finished five hours Sunday,” Michelle, a former Channel conquerer and now beachside expert said to me. “That smile was just priceless. You are so determined!” Indeed, determined I was, and continued to be the following weekend. More on that in the next entry. In the meantime, here are a few shots of us “feeding.” We come in every hour on the hour starting with hour two for a small cup of energy drink and, when we’re good, a Cadbury’s chocolate roll or Milky Way. I love those breaks!


Kyle Taylor

25 June 2009

The Immortal King Of Pop Has Left Us

It doesn't seem real. Impossible. How can an immortal die? I have a feeling the entire world will be grieving for quite some time. I'll skip the controversies (we all know them) and just post a favorite, as well as my own tribute. Michael, the world has been forever changed by you.

"I've Been A Victim Of A Selfish Kind Of Love. It's Time That I Realize That There Are Some With No Home, Not A Nickel To Loan. I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror."

22 June 2009

Brithday Twin Still AWESOME

In my haste to talk about how awesome Sarah is, I completely forgot to mention her equally awesome endeavor - building an entire blog on "Chartography." That is, the most incredibly charts, graphs and pyramids I have EVER SEEN. Click here to read more.

Channel swim updates tomorrow, and that's a promise!
P.S. I totally stole the photo from her website. Clearly, as we're both in the picture, we BOTH stole it from someone else. Oops?


Kyle Taylor

19 June 2009

Ode To A Birthday Twin

Every year on my day of birth (19th of June) I can't help but think of all the other people I share this great day with. Starting 4 birthdays ago, my mind immediately turns to my day, month AND year b-day twin: Madame Sarah Hillary McNamara Albright Clinton Reedster. She's the smartest person I know, she loves cherry danishes from Marvelous Market and she asked me not to post embarrassing photos of her with this post. Naturally, I am ignoring that request. So then dear Reedster, this post goes out to you! Love and miss and miss and love! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!



08 June 2009

Exam Overload!

I have four exams in the next 10 days, so be advised that I won't be posting until after June 17th! I'll be taking words of advice from David Allen on study breaks. He looks pretty darn official, no?


Kyle Taylor

04 June 2009

Media Mayhem!

Well, it's been a few great weeks for press! A cover story in both a London Paper and a California paper have really boosted our spirits for fundraisiing and awareness! Here they are:

Click here for the US article.

Click here for the UK article.

Click here to donate!


Kyle Taylor

*Photos by Cindy Yamanaka from the Orange County Register article. Please do not redistribute.

02 June 2009

Dover Weekend Four: Three Hours Or Bust

After a week of reprieve from Dover thanks entirely to Carly deciding to get married (I’m sure that was her top reason for getting hitched! Thanks Carly!), I headed back down to Dover to re-embrace the good times. You know, 52-degree water, polluted harbour currents and of course, a rather mixed bag in the weather department. Thankfully, I had two bonuses this time: a cloudless sky and Josh around to dress me post-swim.

I had done two hours in California, where the water was 63 degrees and the waves were much larger. The only reason I stopped, really, was because I was mind-numbingly bored. Naturally, the Dover group had made their most significant distance increase ever, leaping from 90 minutes to 4 hours while I was gone. Super.

If I know anything, it’s my own limits. Wait, I don’t know them at all. Anyway, I was certain I could not reasonably leap from 90 minutes to 4 hours, so I decided on 2.5 hours as a happy medium. I like baby steps. If you know you can do 2, then it’s just 30 more to 2.5 and so on. If you know you can do 2, it’s TWICE AS MUCH to 4. That’s mentally and emotionally defeating when you don’t finish. So important to set reasonable expectations (beyond the fact that weight 160 pounds and have - by far - the lowest BMI (body mass index) of anyone attempting to swim the Channel this year.

This time we added one additional element to training - feeding at two hours and every hour after on liquid energy carbohydrate maximizing explosion of warm goodness. It’s basically spiked gatorade served warm. When you’re shaking violently and have little clue as to where you are in relation to land, water and other people (never mind attempting to find your mouth with your hands), it’s heaven on Earth.

I did my 2.5 on Saturday and ended up getting out because the beach monitor said “oh yeah, he’s freezing. Get out!” I naturally said to him, “I feel like a failure.” He looked at me perplexed. With everyone else doing 4, I wanted to be with the big kids! Josh dressed me (the usual shaking ensued) and we hit the Guest House for some cocoa and a hot shower before lunch and studying (which turned into chit-chat, naturally) before watching the finale of Britain’s Got Talent and calling it a night.

I was determined on Sunday to hit three hours. It felt like a threshold for me, though I’m not sure why. I just really needed that mental boost to get me over whatever hump seemed to exist in my mind about this swim. What’s odd is that after your body is freezing cold, it just becomes about sustaining for however long you’re supposed to go. Part of my issue is that swim quite a bit faster than most, meaning I cover much more “water” in the allotted time. It’s beneficial when there is a fixed distance (England to France) but more difficult when there is a fixed time (training) because I’m using quite a bit of energy when my swim isn’t any shorter than everyone else’s.

The Sunday swim is always easier - you know the water temperature, you know the “settling point” and you know that you can swim at least as long as you did the day before. That said, it’s still freezing. The first 12 minutes are the same - pounding ice cream headache. That evolves into a rather comfortable first hour. The second hour is cold but not unbearable. Post feeding, however, all the muscles in my stomach and legs lock up. My hip flexers start to ache and my jaw becomes permanently stuck in a half-open position. I fight the chattering of my teeth and keep my arms moving so as to ensure they don’t lock up too. The key at this point is to keep my mind busy. The less I think about being cold, the less I want to make for the beach and get out.

At 2.5 hours it really hits me - I am freezing cold. Any movements outside my normal freestyle hurt quite a bit because my muscles aren’t stretched out enough to really move in that direction. “This is go time,” I say to myself. “30 more minutes. You can do this!” I stroke and stroke and stroke. “Just to the wall and back and it’s over. Wall and back and over. You can do this!” My stroke is shortened and I feel like I’m not moving. “Focus and calm down. Stroke. Relax. Stroke.” What feels like only seconds later I am being dragged up the beach by Josh, who is saying to me, “Good job mate. Good job.” I look at my watch: three hours and two minutes. I made it, and it feels good.

Next week it’s four hours or bust. Bring it Channel. Bring it!


Kyle Taylor