Brave Students Gear Up for Epic Channel Swim

Senior Charity

This September, twelve intrepid students from Churcher's College will embark on a remarkable challenge: a relay swim across the English Channel. Their goal is to raise funds for various charities.

The team, split into two groups of six, will attempt the gruelling 21-mile crossing from England to France, an endeavour requiring immense endurance, preparation and teamwork.

The Channel swim relay is a formidable test of both physical and mental stamina. Each team member must be over 12 years old and will swim in a one-hour rotation, jumping off the support boats, Sea Satin and Gallivant, to navigate the treacherous waters. Starting from Shakespeare's Beach in the UK, the first swimmer begins swimming upon hearing the siren from the escort boat. Swimmers are prohibited from touching the boat during their hour-long stint, rotating until they hopefully arrive at the French coast between Cap Gris Nez and Calais, all while avoiding the busy ferry routes. Supporters can track their progress in real-time via the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation's swim tracking site.

Extensive Preparations

The students have been rigorously preparing for this challenge since December last year, initially training three times a week in the school pool. Since May, their training regime has intensified, including weekly open water swims in temperatures as low as 11°C. To qualify, each swimmer must complete a 1.5-hour swim, rest for an hour, and then swim for another hour in water below 16°C. Despite challenging training conditions, including the rising sea temperatures causing pungent algae blooms at Bracklesham Bay, the team remains determined.

Unique Challenges of the Channel Swim

Taking on this challenge is fraught with unique challenges. Although the direct distance is 21 miles, the swimmers will likely cover over 35 miles due to tidal forces. The English Channel is also famously the busiest shipping lane in the world, necessitating a one-way system to manage the heavy vessel traffic. Swimmers must navigate the Separation Zone, an area few boats are permitted to cross, and contend with jellyfish, flotsam and jetsam, and the likelihood of encountering dolphins or orcas.

Adding to the difficulty, participants will adhere to the original rules set by Captain Webb, the first person to successfully cross the Channel. This means no wetsuits, just a single costume, hat, and pair of goggles. Swimmers use petroleum jelly to prevent chafing from the salty water, which can irritate the skin.

Worthy Causes

The students are aiming to raise money for various charities, including Maddy’s Mark. To donate and support their cause, please visit their JustGiving page.

We wish them the very best of luck in their training.

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Brave Students Gear Up for Epic Channel Swim