Courtesy of Zach Margolis, English Channel.

Software engineer Zach Margolis knows how to approach and solve problems.

Back in 2011, the software engineer saw the movie On A Clear Day. “I loved the name and started mulling over the idea of swimming the English Channel myself one day,” he recalled.

Dial forward to 2015 and Margolis was introduced to Kimberley Chambers. “On that day, I promised that I’d swim the English Channel. Kim has since become a mentor and friend, and encouraged me to join the South End Rowing Club in San Francisco where I’ve found an amazing local community of swimmers.”

In December 2016, a few months after his crossing of the Catalina Channel, he put his mind to crossing the English Channel. “I talked with my fellow South Ender Melissa Blaustein and we decided to sign up together for the same slot with Andy King, Kim’s pilot.”

After months of training, Margolis realized his dream to cross the English Channel, his third Oceans Seven channel success, finishing in 12 hours 17 minutes.

We had a gorgeous day; I could see France clearly from land in England and had a great start.

I was told afterwards my pace in the beginning was on track for a sub-10-hour swim. My stroke count was high and I was feeling stellar. However, somewhere near France, the tide really shifted, and I lost some focus. We had started in a mostly straight line, but ended up drifting way south.

I was getting in to a bad spot mentally, having trouble keeping my stroke count up and looking looking at land and not the boat as instructed. Andy reached his head over the boat and yelled out to me. He told me that if I didn’t start getting it together, he was going to pull me and end the swim. I hate disappointing myself and others, so I dug deep, focused, and eventually got to a better rhythm so I could finish the swim. I made sure to stay staring at the same point on the starboard side of the boat, a dolphin emblem painted on, picking up my speed and strokes as needed to match.

We got closer to land on the French side and Andy hopped out of the big fishing boat into a smaller inflatable RIB to escort me to land.

I swam in to the beach and to my delight, it was sand. I got up and ran to clear the water line as fast as I could to end the swim. After a too-brief celebration alone on shore, I swam back out to the inflatable to get back in the bigger boat and ride back with everybody to England.

Once I got in the inflatable, Andy admitted he was never going to pull me and this was a tactic to get inside of my head. Clearly, it worked.”

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