02 December 2010

Living On An Island

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK


When we toured schools around London, I was surprised that all the schools seemed to have swimming as part of their curriculum. They go to great effort to rent buses to transport students to local pools as a part of the physical education, beginning at an early age. At first it seemed strange, but then it hit me - of course, it is an island surrounded by water.

England is wildly more safety conscious than the US in most areas. An English journalist recently wrote that he was appalled that Americans don't teach all their children to swim. Now come to think of it, in the US if you don't have money to pay for lessons, access to a pool, and a parent who has time to transport their children to and from lessons, their kiddos don't learn how to swim. Maybe the English are on to something?


This led me to think about English Channel swimmers tackling the wet equivalent of climbing Mt Everest. Swimmers need to be mentally and physically prepared for huge challenges:

- Busiest international seaway in the world (400 commercial vessels moving daily in 4 directions)
- Mental and physical exhaustion (10 - 20 hours of swimming)
- Hypothermia (water 15-18 degrees C)
- Unpredictable weather and swells
- Eating/drinking while swimming
- Strong tides
- Seaweed and trash as obstacles
- Anticyclones (causes thick fog)
- Occasional jellyfish
- Sunburn

With a £2300 escort boat fee (paid at least 2 yrs in advance), 6 hour ratified swim in temperatures below 62 degrees F, completed medical forms, and lots of training, you can be on your way to the short list of successful swimmers crossing the Strait of Dover.

However, your swim will not be officially recorded if you use a wetsuit or anything else that may aid your speed, buoyancy, heat retention, or endurance. Nose clips, goggles and earplugs are permitted however. Your buddy in the escort boat is allowed to hand you light sticks for safety, as well as food and water. S/he can jump in and swim beside you, too, for encouragement. Isn't that good news?

Most swim from England to France (not as often the other direction). The success rate of solo swims is approximately 50% (which is actually higher than the UK driving test pass rate, I might add).

And because French law bans many unconventional vessels, you may have to leave from the UK if you want to cross in your bathtub, hot air balloon, amphibious vehicle, jet pack, kayak, or most recently in 2010, on water skis - all of which have been attempted.

How would you choose to cross The Channel?

[Sources: Wikipedia, CS&PF]

XO Laura
P.S. The kids are having their first 'snow day' - no school! Did you hear the kids whoop and holler across the globe? 


Laura said...

I hear you on this... living in the UK you having easy access to swim lessons... doing the same in the US is incredibly expensive... we're looking to start my daughter next year, I think it will work out cheaper to fly to the UK and teach her there at my local swimming pool!!! Enjoy the snow... my parents fly home today and are more worried about there transfer from London to the North! Lx

Heartfire At Home said...

Hi Laura! Thanks so much for popping over to my blog and joining in! Have followed you back. :)

Hope the 'snow day' was fab! Over here it's usually stinking hot at this time of year, although we are having unseasonal rains day in and day out (but it's still hot). Today was the second day of Summer, and it was drizzling, but warm all day.

Lovely blog you have - great name.

Linda. xox :)

topchelseagirl said...

I've been over The Channel several times on boats. Not enjoyable - far too choppy. My preferred way to cross it would, therefore, be to go under it through The Chunnel, although I have yet to do this.
Glad your chestnuts were good.

Privet and Holly said...

We are lucky to have
access to free {lake}
beaches around here,
so I don't know anyone
who can't swim. As far
as crossing the Channel,
I am a stay in the boat
type of girl ~ all of the
things that you mentioned
that could go wrong make
me shiver just thinking
about them! Time for a
warm cup of coffee....
xx Suzanne

Noodles and Waffles said...

What a fantastic post! I love swimming, thus the International Swimmers Challenge with Bobbi at the lazy designer.

Have you ever read Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox? It is one of my favorite books of all time...all about swimming. Lynne Cox's book is an amazing tale. Greyson her other book is wonderful as well.

Happy swimming!

Kate and Russ said...

Are you saying I should attempt a solo swim before taking my driving test?

Anonymous said...

noodle time