Interview with Paule Kremer, English Channel swimmer

“It’s just an awesome feeling to think that you can swim between two countries and fight these massive currents” 

On the 8th of August Paule Kremer became the first ever person (and woman!!) from Luxembourg to swim across the English Channel. 13hrs and 54min after leaving the English coast she reached Cap Gris Nez in France. During that time she covered an impressive 59km. What an achievement!

Paule decided to use this personal challenge to raise funds for the Plooschter Projet. This Luxembourg based charity aims to raise awareness about chronic myelogenous leukaemia and help people diagnosed with this form of leukaemia. You can help Paule achieve her 10,000€ goal by making a donation on her fundraising page. 

Read on to learn more about Paule’s journey to the start line and her channel swimming experience…

How did the Channel swim idea evolve? What inspired you to take on such a big challenge?

Last year, a friend of mine asked me whether I wanted to join him for a relay in the channel in a team of six. He had attempted to cross the channel twice before as a solo swimmer but never succeeded. I always thought that swimming the channel as a soloist was a crazy idea but once we landed in France during our relay I asked the pilot whether he still had an available slot for the following year. It´s just an awesome feeling to think that you can swim between two countries and fight these massive currents.

What was the reaction of your friends and family when you told me about your decision to swim the Channel?

I don’t think most of them took it too seriously until I drove to Dover at the weekend and everyone realised how dedicated I was. After my successful crossing the reactions have been overwhelming!

How did you train and prepare physically for such a long swim? Have you always been into swimming?

Actually I am a triathlete but swimming has never been my strongest discipline, so I had to really put a lot of work into perfecting my technique and my swimming over the winter. I joined SCREDANGE, a Luxembourgish swim club and my coach Monique Zepp has never once questioned this dream. I am so grateful for her help. I went to the pool every day and from May onwards travelled to Dover every weekend to train with a group of people that help channel swimmers to adapt to the cold and prepare them for the big swim.

What were the other important parts of the preparation for this event?

I had to put on some weight to become more resistant to the cold and had to prepare myself mentally for such a challenge.

What were you the most scared of when standing at the “start line”?

I was scared not to get to France and regret the swim but once I actually started swimming there was nothing that really scared me.

I have heard that Channel Swimmers cover themselves in goose fat to keep warm during the swim, is that true? 😉

Some do, I didn’t. I used tons of vaseline against the chaffing.

I guess you need to eat and drink during such a long physical effort. What sort of food do you eat whilst in the water? And do you have to carry everything with you?

I had a feed every hour, it was CNP , which is a liquid maltodextroid. My crew altered the taste for me and sometimes I would have a little coffee with some extra sugars to get me going ;). I did ask for a little treat twice, so I had a piece of Battenberg cake and some tinned peaches. Feeding needs to happen quickly because the currents push you if are not moving. My crew attached a string to a sports bottle which they then handed to me in the water.

What was the biggest challenge you faced on the day? How did you cope?

I was sick for the first three hours and I was worried it would mean my swim wouldnt be successful.  However, once I finally threw up, it was fine and could just swim without any further problems. I tried not to let negative thoughts enter my head because once the demons are in, it is nearly impossible to get them out of your head. Luckily I faced all of my demons in training. I had a lot of unsuccessful training sessions in Dover where I turned 7 hour swims into 2 hour swims because I could not cope mentally. None of this happened during in the swim because I knew my demons and how to chase them away.

What is your best memory from this amazing experience?

I started my swim at night so I was swimming for six hours in the dark and was rewarded with the most amazing sunrise over the English Channel. Not a lot of people can say that they had that experience.

What advice would you give to someone who dreams about taking on a big challenge but is afraid to take the leap and actually do it?

Just take the leap and do it and do not spend too much time doubting yourself, it is unnecessary and a waste of energy. If you go into a challenge like this and you are well – prepared, there is nothing you need to worry about!

One thought

  1. Congratulations to Paule for this huge achievement! And thanks a lot to Josephine for putting it in words so brillantly!

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