EDOWSC Channel Swims

English Channel
English Channel

Membership Secretary Matt Smith highlights various channel swimming teams which involve EDOWSC members this year.

The swimmers don’t just swim with EDOWSC but also other groups in the area like Beyond the Blue and Durley Sea Swims. The interesting thing about Channel Swimmers is that while they undertake feats of endurance that are incredibly impressive, they are a rather unassuming bunch who do not chase the limelight.

So here is a quick update to let you know who is doing what and enable you personally to wish them luck as do all EDOWSC members in the last phases of their training and their crossing attempts. And to tap you up for a bit of cash! One of the teams and one of the soloists have set up charity pages where you can donate money to their chosen charities. Both are highly deserving charities: Alzheimer’s Society and Julia House (details below). We hope you will find time to donate some money – what they are doing is no ordinary undertaking and these charities need all the help they can get.

Swimming the Channel is an epic undertaking. Its 21 miles of cold, tidal water through one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. The Gold Standard is the Channel Swimming Association. They set the rules which boil down to hat, goggles, swimsuit, ear plugs, nose plugs and that’s it. You can receive food from the support boat but you must not touch it, or anyone in it. Just to qualify to swim under CSA rules Solo swimmers must first complete a 6 hour swim in water.

The fastest swim on record is 7 hours 17 mins by American Chad Hundeby in 1994. The fastest lady was very close behind, in 7:40, Penny Lee Dean in 1978, also American. Her record has stood for a whopping 38 years. However, if you get on the wrong end of the weather and tides it can take a lot longer. The longest CSA swim was by Henry Sullivan (another American!) in 1923, he took 26 hours and 50 minutes. It is difficult to know which is more impressive, powering across in 7 hours 40 mins or doggedly keeping going against the odds for nearly 27 hours!

Channel Swimming is not a mass participation sport. This is not the London Marathon where 39,000 people start the race. In the whole of 2015 there were only 89 successful CSA swims. 53 Solos and 36 relays. There are very few people with the required combination of swimming ability, fitness, ability to endure cold and mental determination to make it across. When you consider that context it is pretty amazing that so many members of EDOWSC will be tackling the channel this year. There are two two-way relay teams and four Solo swimmers.

There are three relay teams featuring EDOWSC swimmers. A Two-Way Crossing (England to France and back again – the only thing more impressive than swimming the Channel is swimming it TWICE!) involves at least 24 hours of swimming.

  • Ali Budynkiewicz and Lisa North – Gangsta Grannies are scheduled to go in August. Ali and Lisa are doing a two person two way relay!. They are aiming to be the first pair of Grannies to complete a two way crossing. It should go a very long way to making the world rethink the word ‘Granny’. They are fundraising for BCHA and in particular the Women’s Refuge in Bournemouth. Their aim is to raise £1000 for a specific day out for the women and children so they can have a fab time going somewhere like a theme park or an event together and do something that we all take for granted. Hopefully your support can enable them to enjoy themselves and have a lovely day. Please try and donate whatever you can for this local charity and if possible share the link below with family and friends.
  • Tom Duly, Les Jessop, Jude Martin and Chris Millener – Touch Both Sides. Chris, Jude, Les and Tom are scheduled to go in the last week of June.
  • Sarah Pascoe (EDOWSC) is doing a six person one way relay in August as part of an international team with Dee Richards (Jersey), Linda Deveraux (Jersey), Emma France (UK), Bill Shipp (USA) and Wendy Trehiou (Jersey). Sarah’s team is called ‘Cancer Survivors Channel Relay’ and as the name suggests all the swimmers have had cancer. They are raising money for various cancer charities. Sarah has not yet chosen her specific charity yet, when she does she is going to post the details. It’s really an incredibly inspirational undertaking all round.

There are four people attempting Solo crossings. Just imagine stepping into the channel at Shakespeare Beach, probably in the middle of the night, and looking out at the Channel and thinking, it’s now you, you and you and 21 miles of cold water! In fact you probably don’t think that otherwise you would not start!

Anyway the four Soloists are:

  • Simon Gater
  • Marc Newman
  • Stuart Purcell
  • Jon Tribbeck – Jon also has a blog http://coldwetbloke.com/blog/ which is well worth looking at where he talks about some of his training swims.

Jon, Simon and Stuart are all attempting their first Solo Crossings. Marc is an accomplished Channel Swimmer with five successful attempts under his belt. Jon, Simon and Stuart are all swimming the traditional Dover to Calais Route. Marc is attempting the route from Dungeness, which has the potential to be very fast but requires a faster swim to beat the tides.

These are the links to the two charity sites named so far:

The Gangsta Grannies (two way two person channel relay) have sorted out their charity web page. The link is here…


Please donate whatever you can. If the other challengers put charity pages together we will provide details.

So cross your fingers for them all and let’s hope for a hot summer to get the water nice and warm and for light northerly winds through to September! If this all piques your interest then why not have a chat with one of these ladies and gents. They are all very approachable and we are sure will be happy to share some of their knowledge.