SYRACUSE -- Gordon Gridley has come a long way from the time he feared swimming in the deep end of the pool.
The 40-year-old Syracuse resident has set a goal of swimming the English Channel from Dover, England, to northern France, sometime between Aug. 8 and Aug. 16, when it is neap tide.
Because of the tides, the best opportunity to swim the channel is during neap tide, when the waxing half-moon has the least amount of lunar influence on the channel's tidal flow, Gridley said.
But even with all that science, Gridley said, his swim pattern will be in the shape of a letter "S," because the tides will push him sideways, although he will continually be facing France. The tidal action will turn the 21-mile width of the channel into a 36-mile swim, he said. His goal is to complete the swim in about 14 hours.
To acclimate his body for the cold Atlantic Ocean, Gridley said, he has been regularly taking ice baths and swimming in Great Salt Lake, Logan River and Bear Lake, which, when he was swimming there, had water temperatures of 60 to 61 degrees -- similar to what he should encounter in the channel.
"The world record (time for swimming the channel) is seven hours, but I'll be happy if I finish at all," said Gridley, who began swimming competitively when he was 15.
"I was actually afraid of the deep end of the pool until I was 13," he said.
Since then, Gridley, a software developer and father of seven, has developed a passion for swimming, whether it be with or against the tide.
Gridley lettered as a member of the swim team at West High School in Salt Lake City.
"I was always a freestyle swimmer, swimming the distances, the 500-meter and the mile. I held a school record in the 500-meter for a few years," he said.
It was during that time that Gridley developed an interest in swimming the English Channel, the most widely known marathon swim.
"I've been toying with the idea since high school," he said. "But it didn't really become a concrete goal until about four years ago."
A few family members will accompany him to England, he said.
"It's not a humongous deal to them. They're aware it's a big deal for me," Gridley said of the effort that will cost him $20,000, including his family's expenses.
Successfully swimming the channel, Gridley said, has kind of come to define him as he has prepared to qualify, including demonstrating to channel authorities he is a capable marathon swimmer by documenting his ability to make a swim of six hours or more.
On June 1, 2011, Gridley swam the Great Salt Lake from SaltAir to White Rock Bay. It took 10 hours and 59 minutes to complete that swim, he said.
"Once you get seven or eight hours into a swim, it's the fatigue that sets in," he said.
His shoulders feel most of the wear as a result of the repetitive rotating motion of his arms, he said.
"That's when the mental power kicks in," Gridley said.
His wife, Cathi, runs marathons, which takes dedication, but she said it takes a whole different level of dedication to be able to swim in cold water for 14 hours. She describes her husband this way:
"He gets a goal in his head and can't be stopped. He really has mind control. That's what cold-water swimming takes."