For as long as I can remember, even before I learned how to swim at age 13, I have dreamt of swimming The English Channel. The English Channel is slightly less than 21 miles straight across, but as far as I know, no one has ever been able to swim straight across. It is not atypical to cover 30 miles during a swim. During the swimming season, the water temperature bobs around 57 to 63 degrees F. And, no, you are not allowed to use a wetsuit. You can use a swim suit, cap, goggles and ear plugs. (No MP3 players or anything else that would help you keep pace either.) It is now 40 years since I learned how to get across a 25 yard pool and I am trying to join the Half Century Club: the 52 people, who were over the age of 50 when they successfully swam across The Channel. In total, there are only about 1,700 people and about 300 Americans who have successfully swum The Channel. How long will it take? The answer really depends on the day and on me. I know two swimmers, who are both better swimmers than I am at any distance, that took more than 14 hours - so I am trying to be mentally prepared for 16 hours. But the slowest person over the age of 50 took more than 28 hours - I am asking the team to be patient with me for 20 hours. If it is a great (calm) day, I hope to go faster than 16 hours. If it is a rough day, I hope to be tough enough to hang on. When do I swim? I don't know. The way it works is you book a 'slot' with a particular captain on a particular tide. I was fortunate to be able to get the captain I wanted - from everything I have heard and learned, he is the best in the business. (I had to book him two years in advance, even before I knew that I had the confidence to try the swim.) My team and I have the second swimmable slot (day) with Andy King on the tide that starts September 7th. Most likely, the earliest we will go is the 8th. But there is a chance that the person with the first slot 'passes' and we go on the 7th. I keep having the feeling we are going on the 9th or 11th. If you would like to follow the swim, the GPS Tracker (to the left) will update our progress during the swim. Please wish us luck!
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Links of Interest:
What is The Channel like right now?
The Organization that Officiates the Swim
Andy King's Boat
Half Century Club (can you believe some of these folks did it multiple times?)
Chesapeake Bay Swim June 2010, 4.4 Miles 2:04
Swim Around Key West June 2010, 12.5 Miles 5:35
Tampa Bay Marathon Swim April 2011, 24 Miles 11:26
Boston Light Swim August 2011, 8 Miles 3:15
Scouting swim. Dover. October 29, 2010. Water 56 degrees.
Greeting me is Channel swimmer and Half Century Club Member, Steve Smith.
Scared out of my mind just before the Tampa Bay 24 mile swim. April 23, 2011.
Frogman swim January 2012 (wetsuit required event).
Course from September 8-9, 2012.