Imagine jumping into the chilly waters of the English Channel. Temperatures range anywhere from 57 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit (July -September) but drop to as low as 42 to 46 degrees F. (August-September). On top of the brutal chill, the shortest distance across the channel is a whopping 21 miles, with a current that can move you miles further in any direction as the tide ebbs and flows. When you do reach land, the French Coastline drops away on either side of Cap Gris Nez. So if you miss the Cap, you’ll still have a long way to swim.
Despite these stats and other present dangers (ahem, sharks?), people from all over the world train for months, and years, to cross the English Channel, the "Everest" of swimming challenges.
The Cold-Hard Facts of Swimming the English Channel
The English Channel is a unique and demanding swim, considered by many to be the ultimate long distance challenge. It’s not just the distance that makes this feat so difficult, but more so, it’s the variable conditions that swimmers are likely to encounter. These range from high winds to waves higher than 2 meters.
If that’s not enough of a challenge, the water is so cold that swimmers are strongly advised to acclimate by spending increasing amounts of time in near freezing water, well in advance. There’s also a good chance of encountering jellyfish, masses of seaweed and the occasional plank of wood. And don’t forget to look both ways when you’re crossing The English Channel. It’s one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, with traffic including 600 tankers, 200 ferries and countless private vessels every day.
Did you know?
- The shortest route across the Channel is from Dover, England to Cap Gris Nez in France, spanning 21 miles.
- There are only seven registered Channel Swimming Association (CSA) pilots qualified to take you across, and they get bookings up to two years in advance.
- The first known successful Channel swim was in 1875 by Captain Matthew Webb.
- In 1872, JB Johnson tried to swim the Channel, but failed and abandoned the waters after 1 hour and 3 minutes.
- The fastest solo swim across the Channel was a little over seven hours. The slowest was nearly 27 hours.
Help A Local Open Water Swimmer To Cross The English Channel
Estero, FL resident and open water long distance swimmer, Heather Roka, recently qualified to swim the English Channel. Six hours of non-stop swimming in cold water was just one of her impressive qualifications. When the Born To Swim team learned that Heather uses BornToSwim goggles, swim caps and microfiber towels, we knew we had to help fund her crazy dream, to crush the English Channel swim.
NOTE: For purchases to qualify you must use promo code SWIM21