The shortest distance across the English Channel, from Shakespeare Beach to Cape Gris Nez (The Grey Nose Point), from England to France is 21 miles. The channel is the busiest stretch of water in the world and typically has over 600 ships and tankers passing through in any one day, this is in addition to the numerous ferries and smaller vessels.
The channel is subject to four tides a month, 2 neap tides and 2 spring tides. The neap tides are the shallow or lowest swings of tide and the spring tides the strongest. Channel Swimming takes place between June and September and typically takes place on neap tides. On the 2nd neap tide in September, sometime between the 2nd and third week of September I will leave the shores of England, from Shakespeare’s Point and head across the waters to Bonnie Francis!
In the paragraph above, I said ’Channel Swimming’ which makes it sound like a common occurrence, whereas, in fact it is true that more people have summitted Mount Everest, than have successfully made a solo crossing of the English Channel, pulling themselves through the water one stroke after another!
Many more people have, of course, attempted the channel and many have been part of a successful team relay, but of the significant number of people that start out on a solo journey, many fall to the naturally human suffering of hypothermia. There are unfortunately countless examples of people completing well over 10 hours of swimming, covering over 20 miles (with the effect of the tides) to pulled out of the water “so near, but yet so far”!