North Sound madness but all for a worthy cause

Of all the crazy sporting things to
do in the water last week, swimming almost six miles across North Sound was not
a good idea.

The relatively safe and easy LIME
800 metres sea swim from tranquil Governor’s Beach had been cancelled because
of choppy, waters, yet six intrepid swimmers went ahead with the North Sound
crossing – and lived to tell the tale!

To put it into context, three safety
boats developed problems and one even had to turn back to avoid sinking.

One of the six, not content with
just the 5.88 miles swim also ran around the island for the rest of the
Saturday. Yes, it could only be the Demented Dane, Jasper Mikkelsen.

Triathlete Alex Harling came up
with the notion to swim the North Sound a while ago. He was intending to do it
alone but the five others insisted on facing the daunting challenge too.

So in jumped Andrea Roach – who is the
first woman ever to swim the North Sound, as far as they are aware – Terry
Petyt, Johan Heath, Chris Rose and Mikkelsen who ran the 65km to the start,
swam, then ran 21km home to George Town!

“We were mildly distracted by the
cancellation of the LIME swim, but the organisers of such swims are always
ultra conservative, so we went up to Rum Point on Saturday anyway to check out
the conditions,” said Harling.

“The water was relatively calm, so
we went for it. In the middle, going past the channels, the waves got to over
ten feet in height, but that only lasted for about a mile and a half at most.

“One of our support boats was
swamped by a big wave and almost sank. The bilge pump and engine stopped
working and the boat had to be towed ashore by the police boat which was also
supporting us.

“Another of our support boats had
an engine issue and had to retire, so, we ended up with two boats and a jet
ski. One of those two boats also kept stalling.

“All of my food and drink for the
crossing were on the boat that semi-sank. The stuff had to be rescued as it
started to float away.

“However, I didn’t have the food I
planned for the swim. Jasper lost his running shoes and a new pair had to be
brought to Barkers Head for him to continue running.

“I wanted Jasper to come along when
I first thought of doing it. Then others unexpectedly said yes. I limited it at
six, which I’m glad I did, given the drama on the day.

“We all made it in between 3 hours
35 and 4 hours 15 minutes. That would put us variously at between 12 and a half
hours and 14 hours 35 minutes if we were to swim the English Channel at the
same pace. The channel is 20.6 miles in a straight line.”

Apart from the first group to
endeavour such a difficult task, there were many other milestones; Mikkelsen is
the first athlete to circumnavigate Cayman without a machine.

Petyt is the first runner to swim
the North Sound with little or no swimming training.

Rose and Heath are exceptional
swimmers and contenders for a possible win in the Break The Sound Barrier race
across the North Sound, which Harling is already thinking about organising for
next year.

Mikkelsen ran a total of 51 miles.
He started off at 4.30am from Breezes in George Town and was met by running pal
Russell Coleman at Hurley’s who stayed with him for 11 miles.

Then Beth Schreader joined him for
the rest of the 28 miles to Rum Point. Mike McDonald was Mikkelsen’s partner on
the last leg of 12 miles.

He said: “I did it purely for the
challenge because it hadn’t been done before. I was really tired by the start
of the swim so didn’t expect to take off like a dolphin and just paced myself
and also for safety reasons swam with Andrea and Terry who were the slowest.”

Mikkelsen has just become a father
for the third time. Daughter Mikkelina was born six weeks ago so sleep deprived
nights hampered his preparations.

Still suffering from blisters,
Mikkelsen says he will never circumvent Grand Cayman again. But if an event is
created…

The swim was not totally pointless,
apart from the satisfaction they gleaned, of course. Harling raised over $1,500
for Cancer Research UK and anyone wishing to can still add to that total.

www.justgiving.com/alexharling2
, or http://www.justgiving.com/alexharling2?pid=2264881&dtpn=1&ShortUrl=alexharling2#DonationTable

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