The World is an amazing man made property development in the shape of the world's continents. It took 5 years to build 300 islands, across an area measuring 9km wide and 7km from the North Pole to the South Pole, 4km off the coast of Dubai. So if that is the size of The World how far will I swim?
The World is surrounded by a breakwater that is 27km, the swim will take place within this breakwater and is expected to be around 25km. In the world of open water swimming anything over 10km is classified as a marathon and anything 25km and over is an ultra-marathon. Besides being a long swim there are other challenges too...
The breakwater has 6 inlets and the current at these can be up to 4 knots. When I first heard this number, it didn't mean much but then I googled and found out this is really quite strong... eek! The English Channel ranges from 1.2 knots (2.1km/hour) up to 4knots (7.5km/hour). This makes it crucial to swim wherever possible where the tide will help the swim rather than hinder it and that comes from getting the timing right...
Wednesday 21 November has been chosen specifically because it is the day with the smallest change in high and low tide. Hopefully this will assist me deal with the current but that is just one element, we also need to get the route right...
We are currently mapping my swim, but I hope to swim via my birthplace New Zealand and Great Britain where I am also from and ultimately I am most keen to visit Lebanon because this is where I will finish the swim! The Royal Island Beach Club on Lebanon Island is kindly providing a superbly comfortable place for friends and family to wait while I swim a few hours... and then a few hours more...
I will hopefully finish the swim in 12 hours, factoring in the tide possibly pulling me the wrong way a few times, tiredness and the need to feed every 30 minutes. Fortunately the whole way I will have a support boat with a nurse on board and 2 kayakers either side to help hydration and feeding...
GREAT IS EASY
Swimming around The World will undoubtedly be the hardest physical challenge I will ever take on and as it has never been done before it's a small leap into the unknown, but as Matthew Webb, the first man to swim the English Channel in 1875 said "Nothing great is easy."
Nakheel are the developers of The World islands, which were completed in 2008. Nakheel's support is the cornerstone of my swim challenge. Without them this swim would not be possible. From the very beginning when I first approached them to swim around The World they have been wonderful. They are providing guidance on the overall logistics of the challenge including tides, water temp and jellyfish. They are also mapping the route for me and are providing the support boats on the day of the challenge that will stick by my side and help me get from A to Z.
Up and Running is a fantastic integrated sports clinic based in Jumeirah. They are taking care of all my health needs for the swim, we've talked nutrition, sports psychology and they have given me a full medical - I am good to go! Their nurse Sue will be on the support boat all day taking care of any medical issues like jellyfish stings..... but we hope they won't make an appearance! Whatever happens I know I am in great hands.
Eleven is the very cool UAE brand and communications agency who have designed my swim logo and the entire website pro-bono. It was a lot of work and they went above and beyond to deliver the latest in website design whilst constantly putting up with my changes and requests. Style, patience and enthusiasm is what they have in bucket loads.
PUMA are providing all my sports clothing including lots of swimsuits and we will work together to leverage the SportLifestyle brand to raise awareness of the event. As a big PUMA fan I am pretty excited by their support, not only is PUMA cool but I love them for their commitment to sustainability. Oh and I'm hoping the fact the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, wears PUMA means that when I put on my PUMA swimsuit I can channel "Bolt speed" to help get me around The World.
This wonderful hotel are supporting the swim in so many ways, with complimentary hotel stay for Harrison and the family, hosting a press conference and providing food & beverage at the finish line. I was blown away when they said they would support the event and in their own words "make this holiday so memorable and enjoyable for Harrison and his family".
The distributors of so many cool sporting products that I use for my swims such as GU, Aqualyte and Nathan Sports gear. I burn a lot of calories in swimming and need all the energy I can get - come in GU! Their energy gels are brilliant - they turn tired lazy arms into propeller blades :-) Chocolate mint is the favourite flavour by far!
This challenge is for my nephew Harrison and all boys like him with Duchenne so I really wanted Harrison here in Dubai to be part of the big swim day. Etihad have made that dream come true and this airline - the National Airline of the UAE - will be flying out Harrison and his family on Sunday the 18th November. Brilliant!
Make time... To swim. As the idea of doing a BIG SWIM came to me back in September 2011, I started to get in the pool and swim a bit more. Looking back on that time now, it really was a bit of doggy paddle. Fortunately I realized early on that to achieve this I would need to pull in the professionals and so I got myself a coach, vital really when I don't have a clue about what swim training I need to do!
On 15 January 2012 the doggy paddle stopped and my training officially began. I have been swimming 4 times a week since, throwing in a bit of running and cycling for cross training. I should say it is great getting stronger at swimming over the months but the highlight has been losing 7kg and slowly transforming my arms from bingo wings into guns.
Harrison's Fund is the registered UK charity which my sister Donna and her husband Alex set up to fight Duchenne and make time for their son Harrison. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a fatal genetic disease that affects the muscles. If you've got it, you can't produce dystrophin, a protein you need to build up your muscles. As a result, every muscle in the body deteriorates. By the time he's a teenager Harrison will lose the ability to walk. Eventually he'll lose all muscle function in his body.
The facts about Duchenne are inescapable:
• Duchenne is 100% fatal
• Most kids with it die in their late teens or early twenties
• Most boys with it are usually in a wheelchair by the age of 12
• It leads to respiratory failure, heart failure, and debilitating
At the moment there is no cure. Harrison's Fund has one goal, to get as much money as possible into the hands of the world's best researchers, who are working to find a cure for Duchenne.
The charity is different from many other Duchenne charities out there because it focuses on treatment rather than palliative care, investing in research that takes the science out from the lab, and into human clinical trials. For the very first time there may actually be a chance of a major breakthrough. Over the past few years, scientists have made giant strides in gene therapy and molecular medicine, and pharmaceutical companies have begun investing in research that may well bring Duchenne therapies to market.
To learn more about the charity visit Harrison's Fund website.