A gold medal Paralympic swimmer who trains with Ealing Swimming Club is heading up Channel More, an initiative by performance nutrition brand Optimum Nutrition which has trained five people for five months to cross the English Channel in a 18-hour swim relay covering 21-miles of open water.
Alice Tai MBE, a Paralympic, World, Commonwealth and European para gold medallist is leading and supporting the swimmers of varying experience with coaching help from Olympian and swim expert Professor Greg Whyte.
The challenge, which is set to begin in the next couple of days, has been months in the planning.
Alice updated EALING.NEWS on how things are progressing.
How’s it been going since we last spoke to you?
It’s been going well! I was doing a lot of training for the World Para Swimming Championships (in Manchester) where I won gold silver bronze! I had a bit of time off after where I was really focusing on the Channel More swim with Optimum Nutrition. Swimming a 100m sprint is totally different to swimming The Channel so I have been working hard on that! The Channel swim will involve myself and five other participants that I selected alongside Optimum Nutrition to cross the English Channel. It’s been an inspiring experience as none of us had any formal sea swimming experience, and one of the participants couldn’t even swim before the challenge!
What has the training been like and how many hours a day does it involved?
My training for The Channel swim has been a little different than the rest of the team, as I needed to be mindful of my normal training routine which has been ramping up ahead of the Paris Games next year. We underwent a rigorous five-month training programme, created by expert trainer, sports scientist, and former Olympian Professor Greg Whyte. I have been building in Aerobic sessions at my swimming club and lots of open water swims. Funnily enough I am scared of fish! So swimming in the sea has been a big challenge and it’s definitely more mental than physical for me, so I’ve been doing a lot to try and conquer that fear – and it’s working!
How do you relax after all the training?
There are a few things! I love to have a relaxing bath and really switching off. And I recently started climbing in my free time and I love it! With elite sports it can be minimal gains, whereas with climbing, because I’ve just started, the progress is so fast and so linear, so it’s motivated me a lot!
I also find cooking really therapeutic too. I’ve started making loads of smoothies with the Optimum Nutrition Plant Protein powder and coming up with new flavours.
What is your diet like during training?
My diet is pretty carb and protein based, and I also have to consider my wider training programmes. The challenge itself is high-performance challenge so we need to supplement our daily intake with products from Optimum Nutrition.
I am plant based and they have a huge range of plant-based options. Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Plant Protein Powder is my go-to in Double Rich Chocolate. It tastes so good and helps repair and rebuild my muscles after hard training sessions. Another favourite of mine is Optimum Nutrition’s Double Rich Chocolate Protein bar – you’ll always find that in my kit bag to get a high protein hit when I need a tasty snack!
Did you also help to shortlist the people who will be taking part?
I worked closely with Optimum Nutrition to help select the participants following the nationwide search six months ago. The five participants were selected through their incredible personal stories and desire to find their full potential.
What impresses you about the people who will be taking part with you?
Oh wow, there’s so much! I think I am most impressed that each person is so motivated and determined in different ways. None of us had any formal sea swimming experience so just knowing we’re going to cross The Channel soon is so incredible! Hafsa couldn’t swim before the challenge, so she had to completely learn from scratch in the space of a few months, and Tom learnt to swim through watching online tutorials!
What are you most looking forward to do post the swim!
I told my coach I am having a day off after the swim! I really want to relax and chill out which I can’t wait for! We’re going to head to a pub in Dover where there’s a sign that everyone adds their name to after finishing The Channel swim.
To find out more about the challenge, click here.