Jun 12, 2017

There’s no denying that swimming 22 miles is difficult. Whether you’re swimming a quarter of a mile a day for 88 days in a pool, or tackling all 22 at once in open waters; it’s an incredible challenge to accomplish. However, swimming the distance in the open water of the English Channel presents a host of problems that you’re unlikely to encounter in the pool!

Here are some facts about swimming the Channel… some of which might make you grateful to be completing the swim inside!

1) Since the first Channel swim in 1875, there have been 1,731 successful Channel swim crossings.

2) The first person to swim across the Channel was Matthew Webb, who swam breast stroke. Before him, a seaman had floated across the Channel on a bundle of straw… not quite as impressive!

3) The official distance of the Channel is 21 miles. However, this changes according to the tides. Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim across the Channel, ended up swimming around 35 miles due to rough conditions, and Jackie Cobell swam an incredible 65 miles after being swept off course!

4) For a swim to be officially recognised, you cannot wear a wetsuit! In fact, the only equipment you are allowed is a swimming hat, goggles, a nose clip, ear plugs and your costume.

5) This can make the official Channel swim very chilly! During July to September the temperature of the water can be between 14 and 18C, however, temperatures have been as low as 6C! 

6) To keep warm, you are allowed to grease yourself for insulation. The most common used is goose fat… hopefully you'll find none of that in the pool! 

7) You are not allowed to touch anyone else during your swim, so food and any other supplies you need must be passed to you by a long pole from your escort boat.

8) Around 600 tankers and 200 ferries pass through the English Channel every day, making it one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world! It is the job of your escort boat and pilot to make sure you swim through all this traffic safely.

9) The wind and weather can also be challenging as weather conditions over the Channel can change very quickly and often don’t match the forecasts.

10) While you’re swimming in the Channel you might encounter a range of marine animals, including bottlenose and common dolphins, seals, long finned pilot whales and even sharks! Luckily no Great Whites have been spotted in the Channel... phew! 

Take on your own challenge of swimming the distance of the Channel in 12 weeks by signing up for the Aspire Channel Swim HERE!

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