Julie Bradshaw: It needs to be controlled, but it's still a great challenge

Share
Related Topics

I first swam the Channel back in 1979, when I was 15. I'd swum the length of Lake Windermere, which is about 10 miles, and have done open water swims all over the world, breaking 19 world records, but the Channel is still the blue riband event – the swim people travel miles to do.

It's such a hard stretch of water that changes from one day to the next. When I was 15 I lived in Blackpool and we were travelling up and down to Dover all the time before we made the first attempt. Even then I was given a 50-50 chance. The tide changed suddenly but I was fast enough to swim across it and landed in France when it was dark. It took me 10 hours and nine minutes, which is still a British junior record.

Back then there were just a handful of people doing it – there used to be two or three boats in the season, from June to October. Today, the Channel Swimming Association has six boats and this year, including relays, we have run more than 90 attempts. The Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation assists in almost 150 further attempts each summer.

Channel swimming has become very popular, and David Walliams certainly helped to put it on the map with his charity attempt in 2006. But not anyone is allowed to turn up and do it. To do it legally you have to have registered with the Association or the Federation and have passed medical tests and proved you have what it takes to swim long distances. Safety is paramount and we are in regular contact with the coastguards on both sides of the Channel to make sure everyone is happy.

The concern is that people would start turning up and making attempts without the necessary training or support from pilot boats. You'd be crazy to try it because your life would be at risk. If it takes two miles for a tanker to stop you're not going to have much chance of getting out of its way unless you are with people who know what they are doing.

As long as it's controlled, Channel swimming is a great challenge that follows a tradition that dates back decades. And it will always be popular because to say that you have done it is something phenomenal, and for now it's still only a small number of people who can say they have done it.

Dr Julie Bradshaw MBE is secretary of the Channel Swimming Association

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Patrick Cockburn: Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on