By Julie Dreese
Dan Richards, Class of '78, raised himself out of the 60-degree water onto the rocks of Cap Gris Nez, France, a mere 12 hours and 32 minutes after stepping into the English Channel 21 miles away in Dover, England.
"Nothing prepares you for that feeling as you stand up on those rocks," said Richards, a Tennessee resident who trained for three years for the swim, which he completed on July 20. "The biggest thing that hit me is that I've accomplished something that no one can ever take away from me."
After a 15-year hiatus from the pool, Richards started training again to be a support swimmer for his younger brother Scott's crossing of the English Channel. Following Scott's successful 2007 swim, Richards continued to follow a challenging training program and in 2008 completed the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim and a successful swim across the Catalina Channel.
He then began to seriously consider the possibility of an English Channel attempt.
Two years later, just two-and-a-half miles shy of France's shoreline, Richards looked up for the first time to view the coast when his escort boat warned him that the tide was changing. Rather than swimming with the tide, he could soon be battling against it.
"Fear is a great motivator," said Richards, who used his healthy dose of apprehension to power through the last miles before pulling himself above the high water mark to complete his journey. Richards and his brother are only the second set of siblings in history to successfully swim the English Channel and the Catalina Channel.
"Those 21 miles between England and France became the biggest priority in my life," Richards said. "It's been a wonderful journey, and I enjoyed every day of it."
Richards and his wife, Chris Peterjohn Richards, Class of '76, met next to the pool as members of Bucknell's swimming team in 1974. In 2000, the pair endowed the Richards Family Scholarship and, in 2009, the Richards made a $1.5 million commitment to create an endowment for Bucknell's water polo program in honor of their former coach, the late Hall of Famer Dick Russell.
Dan Richards' tenure on the University's Board of Trustees began July 1.
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