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

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

Recruitment Genius: Chef

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Chef is required to join one of the largest ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred

Simon Danczuk
 

The epic mug battle is only the latest in a cheap set of campaign gimmicks set to define this election

Nash Riggins
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor