Sea Donkey: ‘I thought of my dear dad as Oceans Seven threatened to slip away’

THE end of his final Oceans Seven swim was ‘a blur of pain and effort’ but Carey Olsen lawyer Adrian Sarchet knew he had achieved his goal when he realised friend Mandy Mackelworth was swimming alongside him.

The 14-mile swim between New Zealand’s North and South Islands was the last challenge of the Oceans Seven swims for the Guernseyman.

‘I can’t really comment on how it feels to complete the Oceans Seven because it hasn’t really sunk in yet,’ he said.

‘This project has been part of my life, my family’s life and my crew’s life for eight long years. It is going to take time to adjust.’

He was joined in New Zealand by his team of Pete Rowland, Mandy Mackelworth and Simon Davies and at 4.15am on Sunday they gathered in Wellington Docks, ready for the challenge.

He set off from North Island at about 6.30am.

‘The first four hours were amazing, swimming strongly into a slack tide,’ he said.

‘I have worked hard with Conor Osborough (my technique coach) to swim more or less consistently at 4 kilometres per hour and at the end of the first four hours I was about halfway to the South Island. I should have known it was too good to last.’

For the next four hours his progress slowed. ‘It was during this period that I started to suffer some significant gastric distress,’ he said.

‘This really interfered with my ability to feed regularly as I couldn’t keep my feeds down for a while and missed a couple of feeds while my stomach sorted itself out.’

As he started the final three hours, he struggled to keep his pace as the tide turned and there were worries he would be pushed back out to sea.

‘Our course was changed to head into the current and the rising swell at a sharper angle, actually making the swimming harder, in order to make ground and I was asked to increase the pace to what it had been in the first four hours,’ he said. ‘At that point I was reeling a little.

‘I was watching my Oceans Seven slide away from me, stroke by stroke.

‘I was thinking about my dearly departed dad and what humorous words of encouragement he would have offered and I was thinking of the local Poolpod Appeal which might falter if I failed the swim.

‘Then, with a roar of encouragement from the wonderful Pete Rowland, who had spent the entire day soaking wet in the Rib right next to me, the usual swim discipline reasserted itself.’

He focused on the countless hours he spent swimming and with friends and all the work he had put in.

‘From somewhere I summoned the willpower and determination to finish,’ he said. ‘I upped my swim speed, not to where it had been at the start, but close enough … and then I just hung on … relying on the innate stubbornness of the Guernsey donkey to see me through.

‘The end of the swim was a blur of pain and effort, but I remember pulling up sharply when I realised that Mandy Mackelworth was swimming by my side and that I had made it.

‘We cruised the last hundred metres and touched the very end of the South Island cliffs at the same time, finishing the swim in 10 hours 48 minutes.’

Adrian said it would not have been possible with the support of friends, family and islanders.

He is planning to take time away from swimming, but does have a Guernsey to France swim booked for August.

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