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17 facts you didn’t know about swimming the Channel

PUBLISHED: 09:21 23 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:36 23 February 2017

Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the Channel © US Library of Congress

Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the Channel © US Library of Congress

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Did you know that the youngest person to swim the Channel was just 11 years old and the fastest swim was just under 7 hours? Learn these 17 unbelievable facts about swimming the Channel

1. The shortest distance to swim across the Channel is approximately 21 miles but the distance you actually swim can vary depending on the current.

2. For a Channel swim to be officially recognised you must enter the sea from the shore of departure and finish on dry land the other side or touch steep cliffs on the opposite coast with no sea water beyond.

3. The first person to officially swim the Channel was Englishman Matthew Webb on 25 August 1875. It took him 21 hours and 45 minutes.

4. Since then 1,731 swimmers have completed the crossing solo and 7,189 in relay or special category swims.

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5. The first confirmed crossing from France to England was in 1923 by Argentinean swimmer Enrico Tiraboschi in 16 hours and 30 minutes.

6. The first Frenchman to swim the Channel was Georges Michel in 1926, in a time of 11 hours and 5 minutes.

7. The first woman to swim the Channel was Gertrude Ederle from the USA on 6 August 1926 in a time of 14 hours and 34 minutes.

8. The first person to swim across the Channel and back again non-stop was Antonio Abertondo (Argentina) in 1961 in 43 hours and 10 minutes.

9. The fastest person to swim the Channel was Trent Grimsey from Australia in 2012 in a time of 6 hours and 55 minutes.

10. The slowest Channel swim is currently 28 hours and 44 minutes swum by Jackie Cobell from the UK in 2010

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11. The oldest person to swim the Channel is Otto Thaning from South Africa in 2014 aged 73 years and 177 days.

12. The youngest person to swim the Channel is Thomas Gregory from the UK in 1988 aged 11 years and 336 days.

13. As of November 2000 all solo Channel swimmers must be aged 16 years or older.

14. Alison Streeter, the ‘Queen of the Channel’ has swum the Channel 46 times – currently the most times by any one person.

15. You can wear goggles, one cap, nose clip, ear plugs and one costume that is sleeveless and legless (for men and women) and no artificial aids are permitted.

16. The water temperatures vary from 14-18°C in July and August to 6°C in September.

17. During the course of a Channel swim you cannot touch another human so all food and drink will have to be handed to you via a pole.

By far the most accessible way to take part in a cross-Channel challenge is to join a relay team. Aspire – the spinal injuries charity – has been offering Channel relay swims since 2009, with a full support team, logistics and training schedule as well as team training days in Dover The cost is a pledge to raise a minimum of £1,750 in sponsorship for the charity. This film shows what people can expect when they sign up to join an Aspire Relay Channel Swim team, from swimming indoors at the Assessment Day, to the training weekend in Dover, to the Channel Swim itself. The film follows one of our 2016 teams ‘Team Piranha’ throughout their swim from England to France.

Find out more about swimming the Channel on www.channelswimmingassociation.com and in the March 2017 issue of FRANCE Magazine!

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