Am I good enough?
David Walliams swam the English Channel….so perhaps he inspired you or you’ve thought it’s something you’d always like to have a go at? But you’re probably wondering how good you need to be? And if it’s something you could ever possibly do? Doing it in a team of six as a relay is a great challenge and a fantastic way to experience the channel and have an epic endurance adventure.So here are some of my thoughts about what it takes to get across the English Channel in a relay team of six people.
You don’t need to be super fast but being able to swim a mile of front crawl non-stop in around 45 minutes or less would be a rough minimum target. If your whole team was made up of swimmers of this speed it might be a long day but the beauty of a relay team is that you can have a mixture of abilities on the team.
If you’re slower than this then efficiency and technique is probably the main thing holding you back so working on your stroke is the most important thing. Get in touch for some technique lessons.
All swimmers need to demonstrate that they’re prepared and fit enough to swim the channel and can cope with the temperature and demands of a channel swim. This is done with a qualifying swim.
It needs to done a minimum of 2 weeks before your swim. Up until 2020 swimmers were required to do for a 2 hr swim in open water in 16 degrees or less. But this has now been changed for relays and you need to do 1 x 90 min swim followed by a 1.5 hr break and then another 1hr swim.
Qualifying swims need to be observed and signed off by the observer. The observer could be someone from the swim venue, a coach, life guard, club member or other swimmer.
It doesn’t matter how fast or how far you swim in the 90 min but it should be a non-stop continuous front crawl swim.
It would also be useful to have some previous experience of swimming in open water with or without a wetsuit (ideally without), otherwise it will be a steep learning curve.
Finally you need to have the time and space in your life to do the training, preparation and be part of the team. Depending on your swimming background and ability I would recommend swimming a minimum of three times a week. But more on how to train and prepare for a channel swim in part 3.