Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Banning Channel swimming?

There was a programme on the magazine TV show Inside Out South East last night which included a segment on Channel swimming. The segment was about the contribution of Channel swimming to the Dover economy, but also included interviews with the English and French coastguards expressing concern about the possibility of an accident / collision, with the French coastguard calling for a ban. You can see the show here (for the next 6 days).

There's been a huge amount of media hype around this story, and I, and many other swimmers, were getting calls yesterday to comment (even though no-one had seen the full programme at that point, beyond what had been teased by the BBC - so, in my case, at least, I declined). I don't know what the reality of it is yet, but do know that while demand is rising from swimmers, the number of boats / attempted crossings has been relatively stable over the last few years, following agreements with coastguards limiting the number of boats etc. Plus, the pilots have considerable expertise (plus navigational and communications equipment) onboard, and safety is unquestionably the top priority... as is evidenced by the excellent safety record within the sport.

I'm sure that life would be easier for the coastguard and shipping if the Channel boats weren't there, but this seems a little melodramatic (plus these comments were prompted by a media interview with very leading questions, so it's not clear how strong the feeling actually is that it should be banned). It remains to be seen what happens with this, but for now, it seems like there's a lot of hype and a good news story...

As an aside, I was delighted to see my friend, and former Channel relay co-swimmer, Jamie Goodhead featured in the film. Unfortunately, his swim was aborted after one of the crew fell ill, but he looks great in the water, and I'm sure will be back next year.

And one final comment on the film - they say that David Walliams is responsible for the growth in Channel swimming, but I'm not sure that that's the case...at least not on its own. The increased demand in Channel swimming is happening alongside the growth of other ultra-endurance sports (e.g. Ironman), so there's clearly something else happening too at the wider social level.

I, in the mean time, have been doing some thinking and making some decisions - more news to follow shortly.


  1. hi karen, is the BBC program you mentioned above still available? (somewhere, by one or another means?) thanks, mike

  2. Hi Mike
    Sadly, as far as I know, the programmes are only available to watch again for the week after they are first shown - unless someone got it on DVD, there's no way to access it through the Watch Again system. Best, Karen

  3. Thank you Karen ... subsequently, i've searched to no avail on youtube for BBC "Inside Out" ... however, many google returned many recent links for a search of: ban "english channel" ... still, it would be great to have Inside Out segment available if it ever pops up some where. Best wishes on Catalina next year! mike


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