Setting off in “pitch black” conditions and 16 degree waters, Tessa was accompanied on a nearby boat by her support team including a swimming coach and two skippers to monitor her safety and provide valuable supplies.
“It's the busiest shipping lane in the world with notoriously big tides so you really rely on the experience of the skippers for the crossing,” she said.
Swimming alongside the boat to ensure her safety as the sun came up, Dr Garside had to dodge jellyfish and battle strong currents which extended the swim to about 50 kilometres.
“The sunrise lasted for hours and was so beautiful,” Dr Garside said. “The boats looked incredibly huge close up as well.
“Every 30 minutes I was being thrown a drink bottle or energy gel, so I just broke the swim down like that.
“At the eight-hour mark I was thinking, ‘wow, this is long’ but I kept thinking how lucky I was to be doing it. That’s what got me through."
After finishing her swim in France after a shade more than 10 hours, an “exhausted but elated” Dr Garside travelled back by boat back to Dover, where she had her name added to a list of English Channel swimmers in a local pub.
Returning to Australia after a well-earned European holiday, Dr Garside is eyeing her next challenge – swimming around New York’s Manhattan Island.
“I’ve always been a goal-orientated person,” she said. “That’s what helped me keep getting up at 4am for training.
“It’s a special honour (and) so exciting.”