19-Year-Old Kurrajong Lad Swims English Channel

Michael Payne achieves his long-term dream of swimming the English Channel, pictured here after his feat with his father.
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His first thought after swimming the English Channel was simply getting into the boat and wrapping a towel around himself.

Kurrajong teen, Michael Payne’s next thought was a little more exuberant.

“Then it was, Holy Moly, I made it,” Michael said.

“It was pretty difficult, especially towards the end.

“I was stung by a jellyfish three times, but I’m okay.

“It’s a mental game.”

Pushing through the physical soreness and the dark thoughts that tend to plague swimmers during exhausting feats such as this, Michael made his parents, coaches and community proud.

He set off from Abbott’s Cliff at 11:51 pm on Thursday night, swimming strong and fast for about five hours.

It was dark, it was cold as he swam for five hours, 5 to 10 metres from Optimist, his pilot boat where his parents and a friend from New Zealand supported him.

Michael fed about every 45 minutes, treading water and refraining from touching the boat.

He kept his speed up throughout the swim, a fast 4km/h, with a stroke rate of 68 strokes per minute.

Conditions fluctuated throughout the day and there were dozens of large cargo ships passing in front and behind at varying distances.

Michael was feeling the struggle about three hours from France, but he pushed through with the support of his parents and friend as they helped him remain focused.

He became a bit disoriented during the last two hours of the swim, struggling to maintain direction, but a few words from the crew and pilot saw him break through the tide and land on French soil near Cap Griz Nez.

Michael’s dad swam in with him and took a few photos on the rocks at the finish.

It took him 12 hours and 48 minutes to complete the swim.

Feeling spent, but elated, Michael said it felt good to honour all of the people who had helped and supported him to achieve his goal., including his swim coach, Jacki Bark and land coach, James Sweeney and the rest of the Nepean Aquatic Centre Swim Club.

There are other swims he’d like to do, including The Cook Strait, but for now, he is resting in France with his parents.

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