Things got serious on Saturday and Sunday. I am very pleased with my progress now:
On Saturday I did, together with a few other Channel swimmers, an intensive 6-hour swim (appr. 20 kms) in Dover Harbour. The water tmperature was again 12 degrees water but with sunshine to lighten up the day and morale, and at the end I had still reserves left, I could have gone on for one or two more hours (but was happy not to ;-) ), even if the water was cold enough to have numbed my fingers so I couldn't move them for the last hour of the practice.
On Sunday the situation was grim: I finished, with much more difficulty, another 5-hour swim. Temperature was again 12 degrees, though this time without any sunshine but in wind and rain and very choppy water, which made a world of difference for temperature perception and hence morale. My hands were numb already after 1 hour in the water, and the hours just wouldn't pass. A really tough swim, not just physically but especially mentally, as other swimmers agreed afterwards.
Though physically tough, Channel swimmers are a friendly bunch and very supportive of each other. The only thing that counts is not speed, but making it to the other side. Being in Dover for a few days allowed me to have a proper chat with several of them, and I am looking forward to getting to know others as I will be coming back in the next two months.
The weekend has boosted my morale: I found out that among the solo swimmers preparing in Dover Harbour I am relatively fast (while not so important for the crossing as such, it will get me out of the water more quickly!), and that in spite of having done most of my training in too warm water in Dhaka, my resistance against the cold is by now just as good as those who started their cold water training already in April. The past three weeks in Europe have been well spent.
My confidence is growing that I stand a good chance of making it in August, if I am lucky with the weather and manage to avoid injuries of course (insh'Allah).