Wednesday, July 16. 2008
Sorry for the delay in getting this up. Between my brain being fried and bad internet connections it took me a couple days. Today is Wednesday 7/16, but on SUNDAY JULY 13, 2008 I SWAM THE ENGLISH CHANNEL! ENGLAND TO FRANCE! 10hrs and 50minutes. Alright so now for all the details.
Last I wrote I was still waiting. I spent my last week leading up to the Channel Crossing swimming about an hour a day and watching DVDs and eating my face off with the rest of the time. I tried to swim in a pool one day but I had to get out because my toes literally felt like they were on fire! During the course of my last week I met some more cool people at the beach; Karah from San Francisco, Jeff from Colorado, Neil from San Fran, a team and solo swimmer from Iceland. Anyway on Saturday Ali gave me the green light that Sunday was the big day. I went to bed early, no problems sleeping and was up early ready for GAME DAY!
I got on Alison Steeter’s boat at around 6am. They still had some boat things to do before motoring off to Shakespeare Cliff to start so I went below and took a nap. They woke me up earlier than most swimmers because I am so pale and had to sunblock-up. My mother Dolores Dios her boyfriend Tom and my friend and goalie Kyle Davis were on the boat with me. Alison was my pilot and had her crew there too. Kyle took a funny photo of me (not posed) where I am jumping off the boat “Peter Pan” style. I swam up onto Shakespeare beach, took a knee, said a prayer and then got up to swim. They blew the horn and then I was in the water, not too quickly, I go slow even if I had just been in there. I took off swimming fast though, and almost crashed into the boat in record time. Everyone was screaming at me and I stopped a few feet from the back of the boat. I then moved to the right side of the boat and set off towards France.
The swim was amazing. The water is so clear. People always wonder what swimmers think about while swimming. Honestly, I prefer to zone out. The temperature was 61 when I started and got warmer the whole way across. When I swim I count my strokes between breathes. It is very rhythmical. 1, 2, 3, breath, 1, 2, 3, breath… etc. This occupies my main thoughts on something, then I just have to worry about that subconscious voice. I am a religious person. I went to High School at St. Benedicts in Newark, NJ. During the first half or so of the swim I was mostly thinking to myself how amazing the day was and to appreciate the perfection and beauty of God’s creations, and how lucky I was to be out in the middle of the Sea experiencing things that many people may never experience.
The day was great. The Sun shinned on my back all day long, the Sea was as flat as you could pray for and the water did not feel very cold. But the swim wears on. I did not wear a watch but I counted my feeds. When you are swimming your crew has to feed you so you have the strength to go on. When they decided, about every 20-30min, Kyle or my Mom would lie down on the side of the boat and reach down to me with a cup of warm Maxim. I would swim ahead of them, flip on my back, glide back – grab the cup, roll over and tread while drinking. Chris one of Ali’s crewman was great. If I took a second longer than he liked he was “Encouraging” me to continue. “This is Not a McDonalds!” “Quit Sight Seeing!” “SWIM!” But I did not take too long anyway. I didn’t want to stop. I was swimming with a steady stroke count the whole way, about 71 strokes per minute. In a pool that would take me over 75yds below 100yds, I have an ugly short non-rotating water polo style stroke. Kyle and Charlie from Kingsdown joked watching me once that if they didn’t know me they wouldn’t think that stroke would get me to France. As the day wore on my stroke stayed the same, strong all the way but I think I was pulling less water sometimes.
So I counted my feeds and put it in my head that the swim would take me like 16 or 18hrs even though I hoped that I was lying to myself. Eventually we hit the shipping lanes and that was cool. Ali timed it right and we didn’t have to stop but there were huge super tankers, cargo ships and all sorts of things. I got very excited seeing them because when I am back in New Jersey I watch them from my Mom and Grandmother’s porch. I kept saying that those boats were going to my house. Jeff from Colorado left a few minutes ahead of me and I was chasing him all day long. He was a very strong swimmer and unfortunately I heard he actually got held up by one of the tankers. Apparently Ali overheard the radio conversation and the Ship Captain was from Russia or Eastern Europe and have never heard of Channel Swimming and kept saying he saw the boat but no swimmer. I don’t think the stop hurt Jeff very much. He completed his swim in 10:30.
Another cool thing about the shipping lanes was there were these crazy seagulls. I think they must live off the ships. They also might of thought I was food because the kept buzzing me. They were flying what felt like just inches over me. They were lucking I was on a liquid diet because I probably could have used my polo legs to pop up and grab one of them! They might mess with some people making them think they are closer to shore than they actually are, but I had a good idea where I was so it was nice to have the company. I had some other company that nobody, Thank God, told me about. A SHARK! Apparently there was a big ‘ole 15ft shark swimming out in front of our boat. The crew reassured Mom and everyone that I had nothing to worry about because he, “Only ate the little beasties” aka “fish” I’m glad nobody told me because I would have been worried.
About 5 or 6 hours into the swim my left leg started hurting. My hamstring or something in the back of my knee hurt on every kick. So I stopped really kicking with my left leg after a while. My shoulders took turns hurting. I threw up a little in my mouth about 3 times while swimming, my back hurt, my hands got sore. I never said anything or complained though. I just drove on. If you stop to complain it just makes the thing that is bothering you worse, it gets in your mind and you need to stay mentally strong. When the swim got worse I started thinking about Jesus, John F. Kennedy and Alvar Nunez Cabaza de Vaca. Cabaza de Vaca was a Spanish Sailor who ship wrecked with his crew in Florida and walked all the way back to New Mexico and then Mexico city back in the 1500s or so. Hs crew was him and three others after the wreck. When things got bad for him he reassured himself that Jesus’ suffering on the cross was much worse. JFK swam 16 miles in the Pacific dragging a friend with his teeth! I always thought that Jesus is God, so he could have gotten off the cross whenever he wanted but he chose to stay on there. I imagine that the pain and fear all of those men felt was infinitely worse than the little bit of discomfort that I felt. So I’d put my head down and drive on.
I had Alison Streeter, the Queen of the Channel taking me across with the best crew anyone could hope for. I had nothing to fear or worry about. Kyle said I got less witty as things wore on. One time, Kyle tried to tell me how France was getting closer. I was not letting myself look or think about France. I told him, “That’s a … that’s a … Visual… a visual lie!” then Ali was like, “An Optical Illusion?” and I was like “Yes! That’s why you’re the Queen!” then put my face back in the water and kept on swimming.
Eventually I got really close to France, obviously, and then during a feed Ali was like this might be your last feed. I was thinking, great, am I close or is she going to make me swim the last hour or so with no food. I had myself at 11:30 in my head when it was actually probably like 10:30 or something. I kept on swimming then the boat was yelling at me again. I looked up and Kyle was in the water next to me wearing his American Flag cap just like mine. I started to think, great, I have miles to go and I am slowing down so much I need a pacer, then Kyle told me to look up and I could see people on the beach in France! My Mom and Tom took out my Grandfather’s (John Dios) flag. My Grandmother (Marcela) told me to take it with me when I told her I wanted to bring a flag. Earlier in the week I had been swimming with Karah from San Fran. One day she wore an American cap like me, the next she wore a yellow one. She said she thought the yellow was warmer. I told her, “These Stars and Stripes keep me warm.” When I saw Kyle and those Stars and Stripes flying off the boat I warmed right up, I had gotten colder as the swim wore on even though the temps were going up, and everything that hurt stopped hurting. Kyle and I swam hard the last couple hundred meters to France. There were waves and sandy beaches. I tried to body surf in. When we hit the beach I got up and took off running. I was so excited I had done it! Kyle got up and ran with me. We were sprinting across the shores of France. He was like, “How are you running right now?” I answered, “We only have ten minutes I want to see something French come on!” We ran off the beach and found a bridge. I stood on the bridge and was happy to stand on something the French built in France after swimming there. We ran back to the boat, then I was like, “Oh man, I have to swim back out to the boat!” That might have been the worst part of the whole ordeal. I got back in, and swam out. I had done it.
On the boat I started to feel bad. The salt water messed with my throat and I was having a little trouble breathing. I threw up a couple times, although I didn’t have much to throw up. I went below and went to sleep for the ride home. When we got back to Dover I felt fine. I went and took my first hot shower in ages then we went out to the Pub. We went to the White Horse, a local place where Channel Swimmers can write their name on the wall. I signed the ceiling above the door next to two of my good friends and mentors, Tim Lawrence and Matt Johnson, both US Air Force Academy graduates. Tim is in Afghanistan right now. He actually called during my swim from there. I forgot to mention that. That was a huge motivation to know he called from overseas to check on me! I yelled from the water that I had been thinking about him and my Academy roommate Ryan Tate who is in Iraq right now. Tim and Ryan really helped keep me warm while I was swimming cause I kept thinking about how hot they must be.
So I wrote on the ceiling:
Matthew James Dios Price
E-F Con Dios
Go Army Water Polo
The beat Air Force was a joke for my Air Force friends.
Ali came to the pub and had a drink with us. I skipped the beer and had a couple Vodkas on the rocks. I needed a strong drink after everything.
Thank you so much to Alison, Freda and Neil Streeter and everyone else in Dover who has been so supportive and wonderful to me. To my Mother who always believed in me and gave me my love of the water and supports all my crazy endeavors. And my brothers who I wish could have been with me. To Kyle for helping me train and rest, to Tom for being there and taking all the time to come over too, to my boat crew, to Tim, Matt and Karen Reeder my Air Force mentors. Karen is the one who lets me post on this site, she can actually go correct my Go Army, because she is faster than me and she was a big help in my success too. To all of you who are huge parts of my life who have been supporting me and following me through all this. We all have more to do though. I have more events to complete this summer, and more money to raise for the fight against cancer. Thank you all so much though for helping me accomplish my dream.
I am in Sennen Cove, UK near Lands End right now. I will be going for a run today to start getting ready for the Ironman. I can’t wait to get back to the US and see you all soon.
Thanks again. If I forgot something or you want to know more, let me know
Sunday, July 6. 2008
This was a pretty awesome and hardcore week. Since Saturday is really my Monday remember that this week began with the 6hr/5.5hr awesomeness. Then Kyle Davis came town. He got in at around midnight on Sunday and little did he know he was getting up early Monday morning to train.
Dave who I have mentioned before picked Kyle and I up at around 9:30 and drove us to the beach. Charlie was there waiting for us. He gave me a 4mile workout, but I was still tired from the weekend and misunderstood/forgot how far it was between the buoys and ended up swimming 6miles instead. Kyle was very impressive on his first day in the English Sea he swam 4miles, and I swam 6, 2 by accident. My mom made fun of me asking if I was turning into my brother Zach who has been known to run many miles by accident. All in all it was a great workout, and I felt good even with the extra mileage.
Back to the beach at Kingsdown with Dave, Kyle and Shivering Sean joined us too. The day was amazing! I couldn’t even believe I was in England, sorry English readers, but its true. It was so sunny and hot, yes hot, and gorgeous out. The Channel was as flat as a pancake too! I am praying for a day like that when I swim. Charlie gave us an extra long course to swim because visibility was so good. We could see details on the French countryside. Each length was 1500m, almost a mile. I swam 15k/9.3miles, and felt great. It was an amazing workout and the sun felt awesome on my back. Kyle swam a good 4miles again.
Wednesday: A Taste of The Channel.
Oxford and Cambridge have a big rivalry, part of that rivalry now spills out into the sea. There was a relay race between the two schools. Neil Streeter was taking the Oxford team and a CSA Pilot was taking the Cambridge team, Ali took us out on her boat to watch the start of the race. We were lucky enough to see a solo swimmer take off too. After the swimmers took off from the white cliffs for France, Ali through me into the sea, actually I jumped ship. I have an awesome photo of it. I swam next to the boat for a couple miles, it was great. It was great practice; and really awesome water. It is so much clearer out there and a dark green color. It was weird swimming with the boat at first, but then I got the hang out it. I have a new plan now too. I’m not even thinking about swimming to France when I go, I am having a personal competition to see how long I can swim next to Alison’s boat and if France gets in my way I’m going to get on shore and say what’s up.
Thursday and Friday were rest days, I chilled out, saw Dover Castle and the Secret World War Two tunnels and watched lots of DVDs while eating lots of food.
Saturday/Sunday: The Harbor
I did 3hours on Saturday and 2hours on Sunday. Each day I did about a 15minute warmup, before knocking out a fast 5k. Both days I did my 5k on about 1:20. I did a total of 8k on Saturday and 6k on Sunday. Both days felt good and I felt strong. Alison is thinking that Friday might be my day to go. She says there should be a 5.5m tide which should be really good. I am excited. This week I am going to keep the training light and stay lose so I am ready to kick ass. My Mom comes to town Tuesday morning and then my whole crew will be here.
I’ll be in the Harbor having fun again tomorrow. Thanks for seeing how I am doing. Please keep spreading the word and supporting me. We have raised almost $4000 to help fight cancer, almost, our goal is just over $20,000. I appreciate all the support, even just emails. Anything to give me something to think about besides swimming is great too. Oh last thing. They throw a parade in Dover on July 5th, I pretended it was for the 4th of July, even though the parade sucked and had no cops, firemen or Soldiers. Happy 4th of July, I miss America but I have a mission to complete here. See you all soon.
Sunday, June 22. 2008
Alright, get out the red Indiana Jones markers and maps; I took off from Newark airport 8am Friday morning and flew straight across “the pond” to London, took the underground to the train to Dover and now I’m just getting ready to swim on to France. Dover is great; almost just as I remembered it, except now instead of 10 or 12 swimmers training regularly down at the harbor there must be close to 50! It’s crazy. In 2002 when I was here last it was bring your own swim caps, and do what Freda says. Well you still better do what Freda says, except now she decides what cap you wear, writes down your number and keeps a record of exactly what you do.
Let me back up a second for those of you who don’t know Dover and Freda. Freda Streeter is the General of the Channel. She is the mother of Queen of the Channel Allison Streeter, MBE. If you know what’s best for you, you better stay on her good side. Also listening to her and staying on her good side is the best way to get the training you need to get across the channel anyway. Not listening to her doesn’t do anything good for you.
Dover Harbor is about 1200 – 1400 meters across from wall to wall, and that’s where we train. It’s somewhere around 57 – 61 degrees right now depending on who you ask and how they are trying to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit.
I began training first thing Saturday morning. I did 2hours probably around 4 miles of just kicking Saturday and Sunday. Just kicking is really cold because you don’t get all the blood flow in your upper body from moving your arms, not to mention that it is pretty hard and miserable on the legs too. I get to start swimming normal tomorrow, Monday June 23rd. I had a cortisone shot in my right shoulder last Thursday so I’ve been taking it easy as per Doctor’s orders, yea kicking 4 miles a day is taking it easy. Tomorrow I am going to try for a four hour swim, we’ll see how it goes. Tomorrow night I am also going to link up with some local triathletes who are doing a 1000m time trial. They’ll all probably be wearing wetsuits, or as they call them over here, wimpsuits. We’ll see if I can’t smoke some of them.
Last night was really cool. I didn’t participate because I was taking it easy, but about 15 swimmers met up around 10pm once it was finally dark here, took a while to get dark with it being the longest day of the year, but they then put on glow sticks and went out for a nice little night swim around the harbor. I’ve got some pictures, they are blurry cause it was so dark out, but I wanted to give you a glimpse of the event.
Tuesday I am going to take an 8mile walk over the white cliffs to the town of Kingsdown to meet up with some swimmers there for a four hour swim. So that should be fun.
Keep supporting me:
Tuesday, June 10. 2008
So on May 31st I traveled across the country to visit San Francisco and swim from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge. The swim was 10k, 6.2miles for my American fans. I was worried that 6.2miles wasn't going to be quite tough enough so I decided to make the trip out there hard. Get out your maps and Red Indiana Jones markers please. I drove from my apartment in Ridgewood, New Jersey to the West Chester County Airport in New York and flew on a prop plane down to Philadelphia. Then I got on another plane to Los Angeles California where I linked up with my brother Zach. We then drove up the coast on a 6hour drive to San Fran. By the time we finally arrived there Friday night I had been traveling for 18hours. We stayed at the Argonaut Hotel right across from the swim clubs and the Aquatic park. I thought it would be a good idea to get a practice swim in before the actual event. Well I thought it was a good idea until I went down there and felt how cold the water was, then I just wanted to get some dinner and go to sleep.
The next morning Zach and I woke up early and drove to the Kayak start thinking the Kayak and swim start were the same. They weren't, the swim start was back at the hotel, it's fun when us knuckleheads travel together, so finally we get where were all supposed to be. I'm hanging out with the other swimmers meeting some really cool people like Jimmy from SF and Rooney from SoCa. When we finally get on the boat it is cold, I think the air temp was colder than the water temp. I took off my shirt to put some super greasy sunblock on, prevent chaffing and UVs, and then I was sitting there in jeans and a swim cap (and Hudson River swim baseball cap) shivering. One of the event directors was a little worried. She came over and was like, "Darling I wish you would put your shirt on your making me nervous." I told her I was trying to get a little cold so I wouldn't suffer so much in the water and then her and another event director, Coach Pedro, talked to me to double check my swimming resume. Convinced I could swim they let me shiver.
So finally we get under the Golden Gate and it was awesome, the expanse of that bridge is amazing and to see it from the water was simply breath taking. Then the real excitement began. They start yelling at us to get ready, and two minutes, and like paratroopers getting reading to jump we start lining up to jump while the boat is still driving, and sure enough 1 by 1 we all jump in. The water didn't feel nearly as bad as you would imagine even though it was 53degrees and I was only wearing my Army Polo speedo because we had our adrenaline keeping us warm. Once that wore off I had all the support from you all at home keeping me motivated and warm. They sounded the horn and we were off. It took forever for Zach to find me out of the 40 swimmers there. Once he finally did I was like hey lets take some pictures. Even though it was technically a race we were in the middle of San Francisco bay and it was too cool not to take some pictures. If you look close in one of the pictures you can see Alcatraz behind Zach. It wasn't our first time seeing Alcatraz though, were no strangers to the Rock, and no its not because we're hardened criminals like Clint Eastwood, it's cause we escaped from there back in '06. I even took 3rd place in age group w/out wetsuit then. Anyway, we kept going past the Rock, past the Port of San Francisco and all the way to the Bay Bridge. All in all it took me 1:49minutes, not too shabby.
I didn't even feel that bad when I got out. Zach and I didn't spend much time in San Fran though, we hoped in his BMW and drove a respectable Zachary speed back to Surf City, Huntington Beach, where as you know from the old song there are two girls for every boy, but we were worried more about how many waves there are for every boy because we headed out into the Pacific for some dusk and night surfing. We woke up early the next morning and I did some recovery surf training at sunrise in 58 degrees water. I was the only surfer in just board shorts and a rash guard.
It was a fantastic trip, a great swim and I could not have done any of it without the support of you all and my brother and the rest of family like my mother and other brother who have to work twice as hard when I take off to go on these adventures. I can't wait to go to England and I hope I continue to make you all proud. Thanks! Keep supporting me. http://www.active.com/donate/hudsonswim08/englishchannel
My name is Matthew James Dios Price, Matt Price. I have been a swimmer my whole life and all though I am a water polo player at heart these days open water swimming is my passion. By day I am Title Searcher, by early evening I am the Water Polo coach at West Point, the United States Military Academy, by night I am training to swim the English Channel. I am using my swimming and coaching efforts to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, please visit the following site to support me or encourage your friends to visit: http://www.active.com/donate/hudsonswim08/englishchannel
I love swimming, but I hate Cancer! Hope you feel the same. As many of you know I have been doing "The Hudson River Swim for Life" fundraising since 2000. Last year I didn't swim because of a shoulder injury and surgery but I coached 8 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training (TNT) swimmers to cross. They all raised $16,000. The swim raised over $250k. This year my shoulders are better (knock on wood, I have a surgery scheduled for the right one in Sep) and I am ready to go; however I have heard some complaints that 3.1 miles isn't long enough for me.
Sooooo.... Here is the deal. This summer I just swam 10k across the San Fran Bay from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge, next the ENGLISH CHANNEL in late July, an Ironman in Kentucky, and coaching TNT swimmers, and even organizing a charity water polo tournament to be played in the river! But I NEED YOUR HELP. I cannot do all this alone. I need your help both emotionally and financially. If you can't afford to give anything, give me a call or send an email encouraging me to keep training. I need the motivation. If you can afford to give, even just a dollar please do. The support that you all give me is incredible; when I was swimming in the San Francisco bay it was 53degrees in the water and I swam without a wetsuit. In cold like that is really was the amazing support and motivation that you all have given me that gives me the strength to keep swimming. I need more to keep swimming and make these bigger and tougher events.
On September 7, 2008, I will be braving the Hudson and swimming with hundreds of people in The Hudson River Swim For Life. This swim will be a challenging, yet rewarding experience. The Hudson River Swim For Life has been created to raise awareness of the Hudson River, promote swimming as a life long form of fitness, and to raise funds for the ongoing work of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
While I'm training, I'm raising funds to help the Society cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. More than 823,000 Americans are battling these blood cancers. Your support of my participation in the Hudson River Swim For Life will help bring them hope and support.
Please make a donation to support my participation in The Hudson River Swim For Life and help advance the Society's mission at http://www.active.com/donate/hudsonswim08/englishchannel. I hope you'll visit my web site often, so that you can see how my training and fundraising efforts are going. Be sure to check back frequently to see my progress. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society puts 75% of moneys raised towards research to find a cure. That is better than most places.
If you're like me you hate cancer too. Here is where I get really crazy though. I was thinking; the 5k swim cost $350, so that is $112.90 per mile. I am going to be competing in approx 181 miles this summer! At the going rate my goal should be $20,435.00! I know that sounds crazy, but that if 800 people can donate $25 then I can make it. If 1600 donate $12.50, well you all can do math. Please, donate what you can, even just a dollar, and if you can't... Encourage me and check in on me, and if you don't mind forward my page, http://www.active.com/donate/hudsonswim08/englishchannel, to your friends, and to their friends etc. Together we can meet these goals, we can celebrate small athletic victories but more importantly, one day I pray we will all be celebrating a cure to these awful diseases! Thank you for your consideration and help.