Swimming the Channel is a great challenge - Do you appreciate the size of the task you are taking on?
Detailed below are some points to help you organise your swim. You have heard it before and you will certainly hear it again, planning is essential, the better you plan and the more you plan, the greater your chance of success.
1. Taking on the challenge of the English Channel is very much like tackling Mt. Everest. It is indeed one of the very great open water challenges and respected world-wide. It requires both considerable ability and a huge level of commitment and determination.
2. Be aware that the Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, that there are rules which have to be complied with and that you will need an escort pilot and an escort boat.
3. Appreciate that the Channel is invariably cold, written on paper 15-17°C does not appear particularly cold, but immersed in it for more than 4 hours it becomes a chilling experience and this is why we encourage potential challengers to become acclimatised to cold water and to be able to stay in it happily for 10-15 hours.
4. If you are determined to make an attempt, your number one priority is to reserve a swim window with one of our escort pilots. You will find that they are already well booked for 1-2 years ahead, hence the importance of planning.
5. The cost of engaging a pilot for 2014 and beyond will be in the region of £2500, a considerable sum and to demonstrate your commitment and to ensure that your escort pilot reserves your swim window especially for you, you will be asked and required to make a substantial deposit as a gesture of your good faith. You will also be asked to pay any outstanding balance before the commencement of your swim.
Your pilot will provide you with a swim contract and it is terribly important that you fully understand your obligations. Pilots only contract a very small number of swimmers for each swim window/neap tide and they do not have back up swimmers if you decide to drop out in the months leading up to your swim. Your deposit will quite likely be forfeit and you may well be asked for the outstanding money, so get yourself insured against unexpected events which may prevent you from making your attempt. Remember also, that the pilot fee will cover your swim whether your attempt lasts only 20 minutes or 24 hours.
6. Pilots take swimmers in strict rotation, in the order in which the swims have been reserved. If you want the first position on a particular tide, then you need to book early and make sure your deposit has been lodged. Do not imagine that you will be able to jump the queue, you may hear stories to that effect, but in reality it does not happen.
7. Remember that the role of the Channel Swimming Association is to verify and ratify your swim. The pilots whom we list on our web site have many years of experience and we trust them to give you the best opportunity to get you across the Channel. But your contract is with them and not the Channel Swimming Association. They are completely independent of the CSA, so please make sure that you fully understand the implications of the contract, if you have concerns, ask and make sure that you have the reply in writing so that there are no misunderstandings on either side.
8. Next, you will need an Information Pack. The Information Pack for next year are usually available from about the end of October each year. It is available from the swim secretary. It will be sent to solo swimmers on a USB Memory stick. It will include both your registration form and your medical form. If you are planning to take a team across the USB Memory stick will be sent to the team Manager and all communication will be directed through your team manager. It is the responsibility of the team manager to keep his team FULLY informed and to make sure that the medical forms are completed. The information pack also contains a powerpoint presentation which the team manager may find useful to help explain the contents of the information pack to his/her team members.
Remember that you must register your swim with the Channel Swimming Association. You can submit your registration anytime after the 1st January in the year you intend to swim and the earlier you get it in, the greater we appreciate it. The registration date closes on the 30th April and you will have to pay a late payment fee if registration occurs after this date. If you do not register you will not be allowed to swim. Relay teams are encouraged to get their applications in to the Secretary by the 31st March.
Training is a frequent question asked by many swimmers wanting to cross the English Channel. However, the fact remains that every swimmer is different in their approach, depending on their own personal experience. We have put together a few training hints and hopefully constructive advice that you may find useful Training Guide