Why is the English Channel the Everest of Open Water Swimming?

After all there are longer and tougher swims out there…

Apart from the recognised swims, pick any two points and swim between them. And call it tougher than the Channel. Why not? Seems reasonable after all.

Sure, the Channel has some variables that other long swims don’t have. It’s not really warm. There’s all the traffic. But other places are colder and longer. But that’s missing the point.

Don’t forget the Channel is only 21 miles when you are Petar Stoychev. Every Channel swimmer I know has swum at least 30 miles. Lisa, that crazy fool, swam about 64 miles (What was it exactly Lisa? I know you told me but I was non compos mentis).

(I took a detour to maximise the value I was getting from the pilot and a desperate desire to see Belgium and swam around 40 miles.)

I’m going to steal a famous Channel swimmer’s words, without permission.

“[…]one of the biggest difficulties with the EC is the fact that the tide pulls you all over the place. People don’t consider it to be the “Everest of OW” because of the distance or because of the temperature. There are longer and colder swims out there. The Channel is considered to be the big one because of the unpredictability of the swim and the mental battle that goes along with that. […] In the Channel, even if you get 100m from shore you’re not done. As [we] know all too well of course!”

We book years in advance. It costs…lots. We have an official Observer who decides whether our swim is successful, not ourselves. There is the swim window and the weather. The god-damned Straits weather. Waiting in Dover. The tension of possibly going home without a swim after 2 years of training, planning and waiting.
We can’t turn left or right after a few miles and hit land.

In one hundred and fifty years, the failure rate is 70%. One may feel free to dismiss the Channel and Channel swimmers, but I think it’s only safe to so do after you’ve actually swum it yourself.

The English Channel is *the* standard. Ned says Santa Barbara was tougher. Ned has certainly earned the right, since he’s already swum the English Channel. Lisa of course did it twice, in one go.

“Talk to me when you’re a member of the club”, as it’s famously been put.


One thought on “Why is the English Channel the Everest of Open Water Swimming?

  1. Pingback: Channel and Marathon Swimming Articles Index & adding a Donate to LoneSwimmer.com, the world’s most popular open water swimming blog option | LoneSwimmer

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