In 1981 Cliff was a 26 year old, very contented endurance athlete. Then he took up Channel swimming and ruined his life – The End!!! Noooo, that's a joke, honest. It definitely enriched his life - really!
Prior to becoming a swimmer in 1991, Cliff was an endurance athlete who only got wet when it rained. A satisfied marathon runner until one day he flew to Africa for a 6 month stint in Zimbabwe and not 30 minutes into the journey saw something that, ultimately, changed his whole outlook on life. It was a bright, clear January day and, as the plane flew over the English Channel, it banked revealing the splendour and beauty of both the English and French coasts, with the busiest shipping lane in the world in between.
In a time way before websites and internet, Cliff’s knowledge of people swimming the Channel was vague and the thought intrigued him. He figured that barring a disaster a marathon could always be finished, even if he walked. But swimming the English Channel, now that would be a challenge. Ten years after that flight Cliff decided to leave his comfort zone. He was going to be a Channel swimmer.
Six attempts and five years later, Cliff finally achieved his dream and became a Channel swimmer learning so many life enhancing things in the process. Now, seventeen years after he timidly (and admittedly petrified!) took those first tip toe steps into the sea in Dover harbour, and with two successful solo Channel swims, three Lake Zurich, two Lake Windermere and three round Jersey swims under his belt, he reckons he know’s what you have to do achieve the 'improbable'. And, far more importantly, what you shouldn't do.
Long distance, open water swimming is an extreme sport, make no mistake. It is also empowering, enlightening, wonderful and cathartic -splendiferous in fact. It's also about balance - cross training, stretching, resting. Whether you want to swim the Channel, or just a mile from one island to another, if you take the ride, boy, will you have fun.