Novice Advice

This is only my brief opinion on how to get started on the path to a Solo Channel swim:


How to Swim the English Channel


Immediately: Book a pilot boat for Summer 2011

Contact Mike Oram:          (01843852858)

Neaps/Spring               July/Aug/Sept all have their pluses



Get your paperwork into the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CS&PF)

Run by Mike Oram.  Same contact info as above.

This includes fees and paperwork for membership, and for the actual swim.  He will email you the relevant forms.

Get your medical done, and sent in.  NO MEDICAL = NO SWIM



Sort out the finances for the swim. Rough guide (2010): 

                                    Boat and pilot                                       £2,250

                                    CS&PF Membership                            £15

                                    CS&PF Admin fee                               £100

                                    CS&PF Swim fee                                 £100

                                    Equipment for boat/swim                      £100

                                    Training and accommodation costs        £????


Immediately: Contact Freda Streeter:  

Let her know that you would like to join her and the other Channel Swimmers under her experienced eye during the Summer.



Join the Channel Swimmers Chat Group, email Nick Adams to join:

 Use the Google Group to find Channel swimmers in your area that can mentor you regularly, and swim with you.


As soon as possible: Join a swimming club, and aim to train 3-4 times a week, covering distances in the pool of around 3km per session.  Build up to this.

No plodding, get your speed up.

Get someone to sort your technique out, a more efficient stroke will use less energy and save you time.

Start using Maxim carbohydrate drink (from powder) during training, and sometime Maxim electrolyte.  These can be ordered online from: or on the high street from Holland and Barrett etc.


Over Winter: Get an experienced Channel Swimmer to have a look at your physique, and to offer an opinion as to how much weight you should try to put on.

This can take time, but is vital to being able to stay in the water, and to have fat available for fuel.

Get advice about things to eat to put on the weight despite increased exercising levels.  A lot of people find it hard.


Jan/March/April: Do some longer swimming sessions in a pool.   Avoid the temptation to swim constantly for three hours, and aim to fill the time with planned interval work.  Prepare the sessions well, as poorly planned workouts don’t go well.


At any time: Have a good look around  You will find swimming sessions you can get ideas from, photos of Channel Swimmers you will meet, photos from Channel swims, reports from past Channel swims.


May until Swim Join the ‘old hands’ and aspiring Channel swimmers in Dover for cold water acclimatisation training in Dover Harbour.  Driving instructions, maps and photos are on the website above.

Commitment and number of sessions you attend varies on time of attempt.  The first weekend in May is vital as it is the first time we all get together.

Freda and the Channel Swimmers will be down both Saturday and Sunday’s, and will look after your clothes, training, feeding and safety.   You may have to contribute to costs.

Get a feeding regime sorted.  Get used to taking Maxim onboard, and test out various foods if you get hungry during swims.  Try bananas, milky ways etc.

Swims get longer as water gets warmer and swim approaches.  You will have to do a six hour qualifying swim.  You will also probably be made to do a ‘Split Swim’, when you will swim over the course of a weekend the equivalent time that Freda predicts you will take on your big day.



Month before swim: Prepare for the swim day.

Book accommodation for the week before and during your swim, stay in Dover, take time off work.

Prepare a large box with all the equipment you and your crew will need for the swim.  Equipment list is on the above website.  Get EVERYTHING on the list.

If you are an EU resident you must get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which covers the cost of any emergency treatment in France if that is the nearest place to seek help.  This card is free, and there is no reason not to get one.  Your travel insurance company is within their rights not to pay for any emergency treatment as you should get this free with your EHIC

Click here for information on the EHIC
Click here to apply for an EHIC

Try to get a support crew together.  Remember, they are there for you, not for a nice day out.  Try to get a swimmer to be on the boat, friends made through Dover training are great options as they can swim with you, know your feeding requirements and know about swimming and you.  No mothers on the boat.  No alcohol on the boat.  A small good crew is FAR better than a large crew.  Put thought into crew as it makes a huge difference.


Anytime: There is no such thing as a stupid question.  They have all been asked before!  “What happens if I need a poo during the swim?” etc

Contact me whenever you need help, I am more than willing to help in any way I can.  You will also make a lot of very good friends through the Dover training who you will be able to ring up for advice or just a chat when you lose your drive over the Winter



Good Luck 

Nick Adams