Denise Clarke is my guest in this episode. She is originally from New Zealand but has been a Melbourne resident for over 8 years.
In 2013 Denise was diagnosed with multiple meninigiomas and her 18 month treatment included a craniotomy (brain surgery). Fortunately the tumours were benign. She still has 3 remaining, but they are not causing trouble at the moment.
As part of her recovery process, Denise started swimming.
She couldn't drive or do much else so swimming for a hour and a half at Prahran pool was great physical and mental rehab.
Denise then started swimming at Brighton Baths and was invited to join the Icebergers for their winter swims. Although initially reluctant, she donned her wetsuit and joined the brave - bather wearing - swimmers. Her second open water swim, was actually the Winter solstice night swim at Brighton. (This is the event run by Grant Siedle - see previous episode. Strangely these swimmers don't actually know each other!)
From the Icebergers, Denise was asked to join a 6 person relay team to swim the English Channel in August 2016.
In training for that event in February 2016, she swam the 19.7km Rottnest Island swim in Perth and loved it.
Her August relay Channel swim was a great success in perfect conditions.
She was then offered the opportunity to do a solo swim of the English Channel in September 2018.
Further training events for this 32km swim included another Rottnest Island swim, which sadly was aborted due to the sighting of a Great White shark. A successful distance swim in NZ at Waiheke was made interesting with appearance of Orcas nearby!
Finally Denise set off for England in September 2018 ready for her solo swim across the Channel. The weather had been perfect and all her support crew and training was good to go. However there was a dramatic change in weather and the swim was rescheduled for a week later. This meant a change of crew for Denise and less than idyllic swimming conditions.
Denise swam bravely through a very strong tide and after 15 hours was near to shore but French authorities were unable to permit them to swim across a Ferry Channel! (seems reasonable I suppose)
The only other way to shore was to head for a Breakwater (still not guaranteeing a ratified England to France swim) however as Denise was tiring this seemed the only option.
Denise had been having trouble breathing and assumed she had asthma, the tide was strong and after more than 17 hours she decided to abandon the swim and get on her boat.
A speedy return to Dover, found an ambulance waiting and Denise was admitted to hospital in the ICU with Pneumonia.
(I feel exhausted just writing all this!)
An unsuccessful attempt can only mean one this for Denise - she's booked in to do the swim again in August 2019!!
We wish her well and look forward to the hearing of smooth waters and sunny skies on her return to Australia next year.