So I think I'm going to try the Channel in 2021...

handsomeloserhandsomeloser Member
edited May 2018 in Beginner Questions

I think I'm in and going to give it the ol' college try. I even started a blog.

What on earth did I get myself into?



  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member

    A family.


  • phodgeszohophodgeszoho UKSenior Member

    loneswimmer said:
    A family.

    A loving but possibly a slightly dysfunctional one... ;-)

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Someone told me it was a cult.


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • JSwimJSwim western Maryland, USSenior Member

    I like to call you guys my tribe.


    Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. --Neale Donald Walsch

  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    Good blog start! You have an idea of the magnitude of the dream, but you also have a huge drive to do it-- a compelling need, so to speak. I think that is huge. The logistics of the English Channel are intimidating to me-- as you said, cost is a factor, as well as getting there, being there for prep and your tide window, doing the qualifying swim. BUT- I do not have that wild urge, you do. I swim in sub 60F water and think it is great to feel able to handle it, but also always think of the qualifying Channel swim, and just don't feel compelled to do the hours or miles in sub 60. That may change, but unless it does, I will look to other swims. There are plenty.

    You have a good reading list for homework and motivation. Consider Grit by Angela Lee Duckworth as a way of rounding it out and preparing for a big dream of any kind. I read it while prepping for Lake George, and found it relevant. She has a quick TED talk if you want a sample of her thoughts:


    Go for it. Address your recovery needs, make a plan. Prepare to make contingency plans. And feel joy in it.

  • @handsomeloser: I like the image of succulents on your blog site. It radiates peace and endurance of the massive, rock-solid sort.

    A good start! Sorting out problems -- and which family to talk things over with -- sounds remarkably as if you were off that couch already.

    (Speaking of marathons and unheard-of things: I am not a runner, never ran a race in my life, but one, Le Grizz Ultramarathon, 50 miles, run in Polebridge, MT, through the Lower 48's finest grizzly country, to the CA border and back, is sticking in my brain. So I sympathize with the itch to set out on a new track with a distant goal.)

    Good luck on the journey, meeting milestones one stroke at a time!

    (I wasn't sure from the blog: do you have OW near you?)

  • JimBoucherJimBoucher Senior Member

    I subscribe to the view that can be translated as "less blogging more swimming" . Maybe a bit harsh but at the end of the day it's down to you and what works for you. Best advice for any newcomer is to go get lots of experience at much less than Channel distances but in similar temperatures. Get your feeding perfect. You've given yourself plenty of time. Use it wisely.

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    I'm very much a fledgling at marathon swimming. The EC tantalizes but at present only as a far distant fantasy, although i love reading books about channel and other marathon swims.

    So I love that you'resetting out on this journey, and I wish you success! I come from a running background too. Ran 7 marathons but the distance no longer attracts me. Yet I'll happily put in hours training for the 5-8 mile swims I've done so far!

    When I first started masters swimming, I couldn't imagine swimming longer than a mile in open water. Then that turned into 2 miles, then 5, and eventually 8. Not sure where this swimming will take me, but my goals are baby steps, and I'm open to surprises.

    Penny Dean's Open Water Swimming is helpful, also love her personal memoir, Just Try Once More (think that's the title)

    Lynne Cox's Swimming to Antarctica is one of my favorites.

    I might say I'm still an arMcNair swimmer, but am being pulled sreadily toward something longer and longer.

    I admire that you've set up a plan and a goal. Best wishes!

  • edited May 2018

    handsomeloser said:
    I think I'm in and going to give it the ol' college try. I even started a blog

    What on earth did I get myself into?

    I look forward to watching your progress from the comfort of my living room with a large gin and tonic in hand. Good luck!

  • JimBoucher said:
    I subscribe to the view that can be translated as "less blogging more swimming" . Maybe a bit harsh but at the end of the day it's down to you and what works for you. Best advice for any newcomer is to go get lots of experience at much less than Channel distances but in similar temperatures. Get your feeding perfect. You've given yourself plenty of time. Use it wisely.

    Some might call it harsh, some might call it completely rude. It's not going to be a liveblog - it'll be a "every few weeks here are some notes." I have a tiny lake about a 15 minute walk from my house that's about 50% bigger than Switzerland, and tends to get cold and nasty and lots of fun to swim in. But that transition to 100 miles of running a week to that same amount of pool/OW time will be a fun one.

  • Copelj26Copelj26 ChicagoSenior Member

    @handsomeloser we should connect. If I remember correctly you are based in Chicago and I am based in near suburbs. I also grew up swimming in the Irish sea so have some understanding of those type of waters. I myself have no interest as yet in English channel but I have done some decent swims in the US and have signed up for End Wet next year. I also occasionally swim with some triple crown swimmers in our area and have swam with people doing their qualifier swims including joining someone recently for 3.5 hrs of their 6 hour qualifier in 56-58f lake Michigan. I highlight this stuff as I might be able to give you some support out here.

  • I am also a Chicago suburbanite, and if you post or need support it doesn't take a lot to get me in the water. I have not done a ton of Lake Michigan swimming, as I have a severe disdain for cold water, but this is something I need to work on as well. Perhaps helping someone else would provide the motivation to get in past the warm weather season.

    Good luck!

  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MASenior Member

    Best of luck to you. The best dreams are the ones that scare you.

  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member

    Best of luck to you in your endeavor. @JimBoucher is on the money. Time and effort should be on training. Maybe keep a log and publish later on down the line. Ask about how to prepare and you'll get dozens of answers. I was a marathoner from 1994 until an injury stopped me in my tracks in 2009. I've done over 30 swims in excess of 25K to include the EC.

    I did most of my training in the pool. Over 80K meters/week at my max (including one 10K ocean swim on the weekends). The pool allows you to gauge and control your training. It's easier to manage particular goals within a workout. Get a coach if you don't already have one and I highly recommend swimming with a team. Swimming alone is a drag and you probably won't work as hard racing the line. The OW (obviously) gives you a different feel that you won't get in the pool, so it's important to get out there for that aspect. It's more for training your mind for the conditions (environmental and what happens between your ears) than anything. Pool=fitness. OW=feel.

    See about doing swims like MIMS or Tampa Bay. I swam the EC in 2001 and did Tampa and USS 25K Nationals in the months prior to my attempt. To work up to the 25K+ world there is a great 20K every October in Austin (Lake Travis), Swim the Suck, and USMS has several events a year that could be very helpful.

    The further you get along with things, you'll be figuring out nutrition and some of the other intangibles. Whatever you decide to do for hydration, nourishment, or how you and your crew work together needs to be decided upon before your big day. Everything needs to be second nature by the time your standing on Shakespeare Beach.

    The most important thing you can do right now is to train your ass off.

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited November 2017

    If I, personally, were training for an English Channel swim, or any long swim, I would follow @swimmer25k's advice precisely, because I come from a similar (near-lifelong) competitive swimming background as Chris, and share a similar personal outlook on the activity. Generally, the more I train, the faster and more enduring I am, because my stroke is already fairly efficient (though can always be more efficient).

    Having coached a number of swimmers of differing swimming backgrounds, I would advise first working closely with a knowledgable and qualified stroke technician to identify any inefficiencies in your technique. I see SO many aspiring (and even accomplished) marathon swimmers with glaring problems in their stroke technique, who would avoid injury, swim longer and faster, and generally swim more joyfully if they worked on their technique before trying to ramp up their training volume.

  • phodgeszohophodgeszoho UKSenior Member
    edited November 2017

    If I can humbly add to the great advice above from @evmo and @swimmer25k.

    Everyone is different and what works for some does not work for others. Physical and mental training are not that much different from feeding strategies in that everyone will have advice on these topics. The trick is to listen to it all, then experiment and work out what is the best fit for you.

    In a lot of ways this is just common sense but I think it is really important to remember. I have seen perfectly prepared swimmers training for an EC totally freak out because they will read online somewhere that someone's training is "Over 80K meters/week" and they are only averaging 20k a week.

    Listen/learn, experiment/practice, adapt/bank - repeat.

    Everyone is different.

    Good luck. :-)

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WASenior Member

    The advice from @swimmer25k and @evmo is probably the best condensed advice for anyone training for any distance. I think I will plan to re-read this every now and then to reinforce the ideas presented.

    I definitely subscribe to the less blogging and more training school of thought. I like to create goals in my head and refine them as I progress. I also keep pretty quiet about my latest ambition. I know there is a school of thought that suggests publicly announcing your goals because that helps you follow through and accomplish it. I suppose it's a case of to each their own. I tend to like to hold myself accountable. I don't like supervision...

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited November 2017

    JimBoucher said:
    I subscribe to the view that can be translated as "less blogging more swimming" . Maybe a bit harsh but at the end of the day it's down to you and what works for you.

    A bit harsh and also a bit narrow-minded, as if the literal act of swimming is the only way to meaningfully participate in the sport.

    Jim and others who liked his post - the Marathon Swimmers Forum would not exist without blogging - this site began due in large part to a connection forged through blogging, ~7 years ago.

    If you have something to say about swimming, and the motivation/ability to write it down, do it. Marathon swimming in the 2010s has greatly benefited from the voices of, @KarenT's blog, RobAquatics (RIP), 'chaos' ( @david_barra's blog on USMS), and others.

    Welcome @handsomeloser to the MSF blog network, and if you ever want to switch out that default succulent photo, let me know :)

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    I agree with others here!

    First, welcome aboard. We're glad to have you.

    Second, you have lots of time, but you have lots of work to do if you really are switching from running to swimming. I just skimmed your blog, so I don't know exactly what your swim experience is, but if there's room to improve your technique, as Evan says- do that first. Once you're feeling confident and comfortable, I can't stress enough that you should do something like MIMS or Catalina or Lake Tahoe (or multiple of those) as prep. Getting your training and your nutrition down is hard and you don't want to still be experimenting when you get to THE Channel. As you know, it isn't cheap, so you want to have the chance to practice as much as possible before you're there, where failure won't cost you quite as much. Also, there are so many other swims around that are equally amazing and fun, so regardless, you'll have a good time practicing for the Channel.

    Third, this is a great sharing community. Feel free to reach out to others with questions. We're happy to help. Also know if you ask one question, you'll get about 100 different opinions. Make sure you're doing what feels right for you.

    Happy swimming!

  • LouisMLouisM Dublin, IrelandMember

    I'm not sure where in the world you're based but I learned a huge amount by actually crewing for someone swimming the channel. If you know of anyone planning to do it between now and 2021 offer to help them out

  • miklcctmiklcct London, United KingdomMem​ber

    I am thinking to do it in 2021 - but I'm not ready yet and need until February 2020 before I can fully committed to it. Will it be too late to book a slot by then?

  • Tracy_ClarkTracy_Clark Norwich, United Kingdom (from Auckland, New Zealand)Member

    Most boat pilots are taking bookings already for 2021 and are sold out for 2019 and 2020. Book it now, then you're committed!!! Plenty of time to train for the Channel between now and then. Go for others above have said.'s a great family to be a part of. I love my swim family especially my Channel swim family

  • miklcctmiklcct London, United KingdomMem​ber

    If I can't book for 2021 until then, maybe I will postpone my plan. I still need to earn money for this challenge and It isn't possible to have such amount of training while having a full-time 9 - 18 job, with the only non-heated pool that I can go opening at 07:30 and closing at 19:00 in winter time (I am living in Hong Kong and there are only about 2 months per year (mid January to March) where the temperature is suitable for channel training).

    If I finally decide to do this challenge, I'm expecting to change my full time job to part time in the winter preceding it to increase my training amount, then apply for a working holiday, departing in April or May that year.

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