Swimming the Channel
21 miles as the crow flies, the distance actually covered by swimmers varies by large amounts depending on the tides and currents... it can be over double distance and the recorded times vary from 7hrs to 28hrs!!
The swim can be taken on individually, or a team of up to 4 who swim 1 hour legs.
In the UK there are 2 main bodies set up that can provide support - details below.
Some fun facts on the Channel Swim:
- You aren't allowed any artificial aids, and costumes have to be sleeveless and legless... no wet suits, for the guys it's budgie smugglers!
- First swim was in 1875 - Captain Matthew Web (21hrs 45 mins)
- You can't have any contact with a human, so food/drink has to be passed to you via a long pole!
- The youngest crossing was Thomas Gregory (11 years, 11 months old).. nearly 60 years younger than the oldest.. Cyril Baldock at 70 years, 9 months)
The general advice on preparation is to acclimatise as much as possible to swimming in cold water and for prolonged sessions. The distance itself isn't seen as the biggest challenge, but the sea temperature is anywhere between 14-18c (and it can be even colder)..
It is worth noting that you do have to be certified as competent by both organisations before they will allow you to make an attempt - this means you must get verified open water swims (which are certified) - 6hrs for a solo swimmer, 2hrs for a relay swimmer.
You'll need to plan in advance - there are only a certain number of times each year attempts can be made, so think about 9-12 months in advance..
You'll also need to check your budget - you need to pay for the boat and the pilot for your attempt, and this is currently estimated at about £3000.
If you succeed...
You'll join an exclusive club - more people have climbed Mount Everest than have swum the channel!
The Channel Swimming Association : http://www.channelswimmingassociation.com/
The CSA officially observes and authenticates cross channel swims from Dover.
Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation : http://cspf.co.uk/
The CS&PF is officially recognised as the governing body for English Channel Swimming
ChannelSwimming.net : http://www.channelswimming.net/index.htm
Event Level: Advanced