AquaSplash's Jo Pullman is swimming The English Channel!
AquaSplash swim teacher Jo Pullman is set to embark on the toughest aquatic challenge of her life – swimming the English Channel.
Jo, 50, has worked at AquaSplash for seven years and took up open water swimming through the Jersey long distance swimming club when her family moved onto the island. The 21-mile swim over to France is one that has always been on the bucket list.
Her desire to swim the channel intensified three years ago with the passing of her mother - and she says that mum will be in her mind during the journey.
“Mum always loved watching me swim when I was little – and I always told her that one day I would swim the channel.
“She’s my biggest motivation behind my long-distance swims and I know she’ll be looking down on me, cheering and pushing me on – particularly when the going gets tough.”
The going will get tough. Weather, currents, sickness and fatigue are all things that Jo will have to contend with – and she’ll be looking to gain every bit of knowledge and experience from people who have been there and done it.
“You can’t take pace setters on channel swims, but I have two crew members that I’m taking with me from Jersey. They’re both previous channel swimmers and have a huge amount of knowledge so I’m in good hands.
“I’ve been testing my feeds in training so they will know on the day what to throw me every hour. I’m not allowed to touch the boat or any other person during the crossing else I’m disqualified.
So how do you prepare for a challenge as unpredictable as swimming the channel? Jo said: “It’s so tough to prepare because the water throws so much at you but training’s going well.
“There’s a qualifier I’ve completed where you swim for six hours in water below 16 degrees and I’ve attended workshops to focus on my breathing and staying calm under pressure. I’ve also trialled ice baths where I submerge myself in two-degree water.
“These techniques have really helped me get my mind focussed and I’ll definitely use them on the day when I inevitably hit a wall.”
Timing is another important factor to consider when taking on a challenge, but Jo insists that she’s not out to break any records.
“Everybody asks me how fast I’d like to complete it - but I can’t give an answer.
“I know people that have swam it in 13 hours and some that have taken over 22 hours – so somewhere in the middle of that would be nice.
“What I’ve learnt from previous swimmers is that the channel is a mental battle as much as a physical one so I’m not putting any pressure on myself to complete it in a certain time.”
With British waters dropping down to unsafe temperatures during the winter months, Jo has been using AquaSplash to ensure she’s in top shape for when the swim comes around.
“AquaSplash have been great”, Jo said.
“It’s the only place that I train indoors, and my time here gives me a great chance to work on technique and to build swim fitness. Even though you can’t really replicate sea conditions – all the skills I get from here are transferrable and I can take them into my open water swims.
“The people have also been great. My colleagues all know about the challenge and they’re always helping me with keeping me safe and encouraging me in any way they can.
“There’s no way I’d have been ready to attempt the channel swim without my sessions at AquaSplash.
Jo is swimming the channel for personal pride and in the memory of her mother – but has also decided to raise some money for organisations that need all the help they can get.
“I’m swimming for two great charities – firstly Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Group in Kent - Fundraiser by Joanne Pullman : Joanne Pullmans English Channel Swim (gofundme.com) – they helped us hugely as a family with my Mum.
“We’re also swimming for Healing Waves in Jersey - Fundraiser by Joanne Pullman : Joanne Pullmans English Channel Swim (gofundme.com) – which opens up the sea to everyone - regardless of physical, mental or neurological capabilities.
“These charities will get me over the line and to dryland in France.”