English Channel myths

IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
edited January 2013 in General Discussion
I'm throwing a couple of ideas/issues in this one thread. But they both deal with the EC.

I'm the crazy swimmer here on Embassy Moscow. That's what I'm known as. The pool here is 50 feet 4 inches in length, so it takes three laps to swim just over 100 yards. Most people here don't swim. In fact, most often, I have the entire pool to myself. All four lanes. It's wonderful.

People are flabbergasted when I tell them I've swum three hours straight in that pool. They simply can't imagine even swimming a half hour, with stops, in so small of a pool. What does this have to do with the EC? Well, after being here for almost three years, just one week ago I learned that people on the embassy have been passing along a rumor that I've swum the EC.

Incredible! I've given no one an inkling that I'm even planning on trying the EC (someday). Most people don't even ask me why I'm swimming 3 hours straight. Most don't know that I'm a marathoner. Hell, most don't even know what a marathon swim means (and, I'm learning, most of us don't agree on the definition).

Second myth: I've heard tell, actually I've read it somewhere but cannot now find it, that more people have been in space than have successfully swum the Channel. Well, while composing a post for my blog, I wanted to link to this "fact." Guess what?! Not true! According to http://www.dover.uk.com/channelswimming/stats.php, 1249 people have successfully solo'd across the EC. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_space_travelers_by_name, only 528 people have been in space. WTF? Where'd I hear the outer space/EC factoid?

Now those are the main myths I wanted to talk about, but there are others. I still have people tell me that the EC without a wetsuit is no problem since "you can lube up your entire body to stay warm." ;)

We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams



  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member

    The biggest myth as you said is that you grease up to stay warm. Also that the main lube is goose fat (whereas we all know it's baby dolphin juice). The famous Gertrude Ederle photograph throws a long shadow.

    Another we hear all the time is that unless you are FAT it's impossible and you'll need to put on a lot of weight to get it done. I was once told I'd have to put on 10kg if I ever wanted to swim the Channel, (after I'd already done so).

    One pilot told me that he had a swimmer show up from the US in 2010 (he was very specific about this) who believed that the best feed was UK dinner fare, so his feeds were to be based on traditional English Sunday roast dinner, served from Tupperware boxes, though that's less a myth than idiocy I guess.

    Some are less prosaic. One myth seems to perpetuate amongst less experienced swimmers that you don't have to train in rough or cold water. Another is that you can decide a few months beforehand to swim and just show up at the dock(whereas in reality 2 years advance booking is required for a good tide and slot, though you can get lucky a year out).

    One that's open for debate but much repeated is that you will never be same again after a Channel solo.

    The failure rate is often incorrectly given as 70%. That's the overall historical rate, whereas it's the success rate in recent years, due to improvements in training and feeding.

    I rarely hear the Space one, but the true fact you'll hear repeated, and will repeat yourself because it's useful, is that there have been between three and four times as many people who have summitted Everest as the EC.

    The biggest and most annoying myth for many of us is that the number of successful Soloists to date is under 900. This is still perpetuated because (I saw it happen last month) journalists contact the CSA who don't give them the combined CSA AND CS&PF figures, which stood at just over 1200 ratified at the end of last season, as you say.


  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    I like the Everest one. Very telling.

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • ColmBreathnachColmBreathnach Charter Member
    Sadly a lot more people die on Mt Everest though, I think I'll stick to sea level thank you very much.
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    You are correct @ColmBreathnach. There have been 6 fatalities of EC aspirants, while the Mount Everest is sadly very long.

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    edited July 2012
    Due to Steve's Ocean's Seven success and return to Ireland last night, I've been getting a few questions from around the place today.

    Is it true you lose up to two stone (28 pounds, 13 kilos) over a Channel swim? No. I'd guess 1 to 3 kilos. I'd be interested in other experience on this.

    So all you guys are fat right? No. We are just built for comfort!


  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    I cannot say I have weighed myself on both sides of a channel, however I would venture to say a person would have to lose some weight since they would be burning more than taking in. I personally tried to take in around 700-800+ calories/hour during my Channel swim, and I'm pretty sure I burned more than that per hour. Losing 20+ pounds? No way. Being dehydrated and the burned calories makes one feel much thinner when done, however I cannot say who much I lose. Perhaps a science experiment is in the mix? I will be bring a weigh to my swim this weekend, and we can test out this theory!

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • MikeHMikeH Member
    I think the space myth might have come from interviews some years ago when that was true...if you read some of the quotes from earlier swimmers, before the EC numbers grew, you'll see the space thing quoted...
  • WalterWalter Southern CaliforniaMember
    It's not losing 28 lbs that worries me - it's keeping it off!

    I just read an article from last year that says Diana Nyad lost 29 lbs during her Cuba/FL attempt in the 70s - but that was over a period of 42 hours. What a slacker!

    I'm not very popular around here; but I've heard that I'm huge in Edinburgh!

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited July 2012
    Walter wrote:
    I just read an article from last year that says Diana Nyad lost 29 lbs during her Cuba/FL attempt in the 70s - but that was over a period of 42 hours.
    Highly unlikely.
  • WalterWalter Southern CaliforniaMember
    @evmo: But I read it on the interwebs. It must be true! http://espn.go.com/espnw/features-profiles/6783740/how-diana-nyad-fuels-body

    I suppose next you're going to say all this mermaid stuff is untrue as well!

    I'm not very popular around here; but I've heard that I'm huge in Edinburgh!

  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    29 pounds seems like a lot. Is that even possible without losing a limb? But as you say, who am I to argue with the Internet.
    Scary if it's true - that's got to be bad for you.
  • It is interesting how different her feed plan is from what I understand others are typically using. Feed stops on 90 min intervals sounds like a long time between feeds. The article references an 8 minute feed stop as well, that sounds like a long time to be not swimming.
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    Birmingham wrote:
    . The article references an 8 minute feed stop as well, that sounds like a long time to be not swimming.
    Everyone I've ever seen feeding frequently (< 20minute intervals) typically takes less than 5 seconds per feed. (more like 3 seconds)
    Over 20 miles, the total feed time is well below average.

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

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