Swimming: 57-year-old focuses on Channel

By Alison King

It's a long way to go for a dip in the sea and a long time to wait, but Pam Dickson is already amped at the thought of swimming across the English Channel.
The Channel is renowned for being the busiest shipping lane in the world but it is also the Mt Everest of the swimming world.
In fact, fewer people have managed the 35km swim than have conquered the world's highest peak. Only one attempt in eight is successful.
Dickson, 57, hopes to join that exclusive list and become the oldest New Zealander on it at the same time.
In March 2009 she became the oldest New Zealander to swim Cook Strait.
In February she swam the 40.2km length of Lake Taupo and soon after admitted she wanted to give the Channel a crack.
She's a step closer, having secured first rights to tackle the swim between August 27 and September 4, 2013.
This means she will be the first solo swimmer to make the crossing when the weather is suitable.
The cost of hiring the pilot, boat and crew for the crossing is £2750 ($5330). There is also the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation fee of $193.
While it's a long way off, she already has a plan in motion to make sure that first attempt is successful.
"I've mostly been running this winter and will have run five half marathons by September," she said.
"I'm also swimming again but only an hour to an hour and a half six times a week at the moment. I've already got my goals set for the summer.
"The main one is to swim for six hours in water about 16C. I have to acclimatise and I can't do that in the Aquatic Centre as it's too warm."
She will enter the 10km swims at Lake Karapiro in December and Lake Taupo in January and swim the Ocean Swim Series.


She has stuck with coach Scott Donaldson and he will accompany her on some of her longer swims at Mount Maunganui and Lake Tarawera.
To help her bid be even more successful she is installing an endless pool at her home.
While most people have the heat cranked up to 28C, Dickson will gradually lower the temperature until she can swim hours on end in water as cool as the Channel.
"My motivation is just to be successful as it's such a long way to go. No New Zealander aged over 50 has swum the English Channel.
"I don't remember finishing the Cook Strait as I was hypothermic. I was lucky to get there. Now I've done a lot more colder swimming I've learned what I need to do to get used to it."
While 35km might seem too far for most, Dickson said that the distance did not faze her.
"I know I can swim over 40km, the Channel is only 35km. I can do it," she said.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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