After his 41 hour 44 minute two-way attempt of the English Channel, 50-year-old Mickey Helps remains in a hospital high dependency unit. His inspirational effort as part of The 3 Swims of Europe (Strait of Gibraltar + English Channel + Dardanelles) is being touted around the global community.
After starting at Shakespeare Beach at 11:18 am on August 24th, Helps reached the French shore in 19 hours 9 minutes on his charity swim. He tried gallantly to swim back and came tantalizingly close to reach his goal – passing out within 1,200 yards of the English coast after 41 hours 44 minutes.
“I’m still in HDU in hospital recovering. But I’ve been told about the wide interest around the world which is heartwarming and overwhelming,” he explained. He also provided more details below:
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What was your goal time for this swim?
Mickey Helps: My target was to finish, but I had budgeted about 30 hours in my head. I was prepared to swim over 24 hours – and even my best target was around 26 hours.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: At what point(s) in your swim did you hit your lowest point?
Mickey Helps: When I realised the calm water forecast for the first night was actually rough and I had to fight to get through it and then missed the tide meaning I was dragged down the coast for an extra 4 to 6 hours. I realised my 13 to 15 hour swim one way was now just under 20 hours and was hard fought. So as I walked up the sandy beach knowing all my two training had be used up just getting to the start. I remember thinking “What’s the point?!?”
But as I cleared the water, I had the realisation this will be just determination versus body and I got very excited to see how far that could go! This was proper dig-deep time with a whole channel ahead of me. Who wouldn’t be excited.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What got you past these feelings?
Mickey Helps: There was no precedent for where I was for this part of the channel, but I did have form for being in the Sahara Desert and having to fight through something similar so was actually looking forward now to the test. It’s what all the money is paid for. I thought of my friend Mark Shepherd who I was doing the event in memory of who was an exceptional sportsperson and swimmer. And remember joking with him “Come on bud, I hope you can keep up!”
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How did you feel when you touched shore again?
Mickey Helps: I got to France, but was 1 mile short of the UK, having swum a total of 92.3 miles for 43 hours.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming:Would you do it again?
Mickey Helps: To be announced.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: If so, would you change anything?
Mickey Helps: No.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Did you have enough food and drinks to last 24 hours?
Mickey Helps: I had enough that last more than the 43 hours. I was meticulous in the preparation.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Was it harder physically or mentally?
Mickey Helps: Ultimately, I passed out in the water without me ever giving myself the luxury of thought of getting out so I would have to say physical.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What prepared you – mentally, physically, emotionally – for this swim?
Mickey Helps: Putting myself in challenging situations for other events has built determination built from a solid base from my junior water polo coach. I now have a suite of mind techniques that can get me through any situation I’ve come across through the years. Physical is easy that’s getting cold for back-to-back 10-hour swims, multiple times.
For more background of Helps’ 3 Swims of Europe, visit here.
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