Risk in Channel Swims

evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
edited February 2013 in General Discussion
This discussion was created from comments split from: Marathon Swimming Insurance - thoughts?.


  • oxooxo Guest
    edited February 2013
    less than 10 people died during all the years
    True, but there have been few EC attempts, say, 4000. Whatever the actually numbers are, the per-attempt rate is extraordinarily high in the context of modern safety standards. This holds for recent times as well, e.g. the past 25 years.
  • oxooxo Guest
    edited February 2013
    2813 is the number of successes, not attempts. Double that for the number of attempts. Which makes the odds of not being alive 15 hours later to be 1 in 1000.

    A relevant article by Jared Diamond in the Science section in the New York Times, Jan 28th 2013:

  • oxooxo Guest
    edited February 2013
    This is what I get:

    ( 2813 * 2 ) / 5 = 1125

    Which suggests the odds of not being alive 15 hours later is 1 in 1125.
  • oxooxo Guest
    edited February 2013
    Niek wrote:
    1 / 0,178 *2813 = 15825,938
    I'm not sure what that calculates.
    Niek wrote:
    14138 climbs
    is that the number of summiters? or the number that attained 8km+? or the number that reached basecamp?

    btw, I agree that Everest is more dangerous, but I'm not clear on how that is relevant.

    In the US, the traffic death rate is about 1 per every 100 million vehicle miles [1]. Assuming an average speed of 40 mph [2], that corresponds to odds of 1 in 167000 per 15 hours of driving using this calculation:

    100000000/40/15 = 167000

    EC attempts are 150 times more risky than driving using this calculation:

    167000 / 1125 = 150

  • oxooxo Guest
    edited February 2013
    Niek wrote:
    1 / 0,178 *2813 = 15825,938
    that is making the % into a 1 compared to 2813
    1/0.178 = 5,626
    1 : 2813 = 5,626 : 15825,938 ==> 1 every 15825
    Question is, 1 what every 15825 what?

    Niek wrote:
    14138 climbs is the total climbers and Sherpa's that went up from base camp. http://news.nationalpost.com found at the left bottom of picture.
    I see where 14138 comes from (7404 + 626 + 6106 + 2), but I do not see where the graphic indicates that all 14138 left basecamp to begin a summit attempt. The annotation is just "on Everest". But I'm still not clear on how that might be relevant.

    Not all swimmers that arrive at EC basecamp (Dover) start their crossing attempt.

  • oxooxo Guest
    edited February 2013
    Niek wrote:
    Average solo crossing time: 13 hours, 25 minutes and 44 seconds.
    Average relay crossing time: 12 hours, 26 minutes and 3 seconds.

    That make the odds a little bit better (135 instead of 150)
    Actually, using 13.5 hours instead of 15 hours makes it worse. The calculation is now:

    100,000,000mi / 40mph / 13.5h = 185000

    ... meaning there is 1 death for every 185000 sessions of driving for 13.5 hours in the US.

    In those terms, an EC attempt is 165 more lethal than US driving for the same amount of time, using this calculation:

    185000 / 1125 = 165

    Niek wrote:
    But how does one compare the risk of a relay swimmer to a solo swimmer?
    Good point. Since all deaths were solo attempts, the calculation should use 1765 (solo successes) instead of 2813 (solo+relay successes):

    (1765 * 2) / 5 = 700, where 1765*2 is an estimate of the number of attempts.

    ... which sets the odds at 1 in 700 of not being alive 13.5 hours later

    ... which makes an EC attempt 265 times more lethal than driving in the US for the same number of hours, using this calculation:

    185000 / 700 = 265

    Maybe this thread is a bad idea.
  • oxooxo Guest
    edited February 2013
    [Edit: Calculations updated 2/5/2013]

    Traffic in the Netherlands has 10% fewer fatalities per mile driven compared to the US. The ratio is 7.7 / 8.5 = 90%


    The corresponding calculations:

    USA: 100,000,000mi / 40mph / 13.5h = 185000
    NED: 110,000,000mi / 40mph / 13.5h = 204000

    USA: 185000 / 700 = 265
    NED: 204000 / 700 = 290

    ... which makes an EC attempt 290 times more lethal than driving in the Netherlands for the same number of hours.

    Still, I do concede the competition for the most absurd comparison.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    @niek in 2011 in the US only 26 people were killed by lightning, so by your logic being hit by lightning is safer than driving?

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    oxo wrote:
    Which suggests the odds of being alive 15 hours later is 1 in 1125.

    Seriously? Only one in 1125 will be alive after 15 hours? I'm not good at math, but are you saying 1124 out of 1125 die? If so, I'm taking the Channel off my list.

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

  • oxooxo Guest
    edited February 2013
    IronMike wrote:
    I'm not good at math
    Good catch, thanks! guess I'm not good at English. I went back and inserted a lot of knots.

    And as @Niek pointed out, the risk of not surviving a solo EC attempt is 1 in 700 (not 1125)
  • Good job you are not talking No Limits Freediving. In recent years, those attempting a world records most of them are now dead or seriously injured in making the attempts or during training for the attempts. Out of 6 people making the last few attempts the attrition rate is 2 dead, 2 seriously injured, 2 still alive.
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    I'm not a mathematician, so nothing to offer in that way of thinking. I will say, I got very upset yesterday while reading comments on a SwimSwam article about Nick Thomas' death. Many folks were saying that Nick should have been wearing a wetsuit for safety, blaming his boat crew for being negligent, and stating that no one can survive in water temps that cold for that long and that swimming the Channel should be banned. All of which is a bunch of BS. I know most of those idiots are probably non-swimmers and don't know the first thing about channel swimming, but still- GRRRR.

    There is risk in living life. Yeh, swimming a channel is dangerous. But, so is riding a bike on the side of a road, rock climbing, base jumping (did you see the article about some dude who accidentally Live Streamed his own death while jumping?), riding in a car, etc. Let's just ban fun and adventures because we might die. Let's just sit on the couch and eat potato chips- inside is so much safer than outside, until you die from a heart attack because you weigh 1000 pounds and don't ever move.

    I've said it a million times: If I die while I'm swimming, you can all know I died doing what I love and I was happy. I know others feel that way, too, so just let it be.

    I'm all for safety and not being an idiot (ok, sometimes I swim in lightning storms and that's idiotic, but whatever). But, to talk about banning channel swimming or saying you shouldn't take a risk because it's dangerous is being idiotic, too.

    Sorry, rant over.

  • SwimSwam should know better.. and once again @ssthomas wins the internet.

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    ssthomas said:
    I will say, I got very upset yesterday while reading comments on a SwimSwam article about Nick Thomas' death.

    I made the mistake of reading some of the comments after the Ryan Lochte BS. That conversation quickly went downhill.

  • jendutjendut Charter Member

    @ssthomas I also had read those comments the other day about the EC tragedy and wrote a note to SwimSwam asking PLEASE for someone to EDUCATE their writers on the sport of Open Water Swimming. I have not heard anything back and will not hold my breath. Those comments were insulting at best.

  • JustSwimJustSwim Senior Member

    About the same number of people have died in the umpteen years of tracking English Channel swims (8?) as die in the swim portions of triathlons in 1 year in America (5-12). While there is no definitive causation in the triathlons wearing a wet suit for a prolonged period is one thing they are looking at. Triathletes are not about to give up their sport (or wet suits). :-)
    There are risks involved in any sport. We lost a talented swimmer in a 2 mile race here a couple years back. I have to believe that the folks in this group are very mindful of the risks to themselves and their crews involved in our sport. Sadly journalists often write about activities they know nothing about or barely understand.

  • JayJay Outside Boston, MAMember

    Personally I find the SwimSwam (SwimSpam) site to be filled with comments from the same handful of posters, all with seemingly little to no real understanding of what they're writing about. Some of the comments on the Channel death were very disturbing to say the least yet there seems to be zero moderation of them.

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited August 2016

    @suziedods said: SwimSwam should know better..

    SwimSwam doesn't have anyone on their management team or writing staff with any OWS knowledge/expertise to speak of. Their focus is pool swimming. So, not particularly surprising.

    "Gold Medal Mel" was a great butterflier in the day, but knows jack about marathon swimming. Braden Keith and Mike Lewis have always been big Nyad woo-hoo cheerleaders (example).

    So again, not surprising their site has little of interest to this community, or that they block negative comments on FINIS/Nyad press releases, or that they lack editorial understanding of a story about tragedy on an English Channel swim.

  • jendutjendut Charter Member

    This thread made me angry all over again earlier this morning so I posted on the "comments" section on SwimSwam- basically asking them to just ASK or google search with questions about Open Water, and suggesting that they should try to educate their audience as to the sport (OWS) as opposed to printing half-facts. I actually thought it was quite eloquent (for me) and even civil BUT the moderator (who let pass all the threads disparaging the swimmer who just died and questioning his judgement) didn't put it on the board.

  • Thanks @evmo . I also was thinking this could be retitled as "Risk in LIFE" a la @ssthomas ...

  • While I've seen a few articles tangentially mention that Thomas was doing the swim as part of an "Enduroman" event, I haven't seen enough articles actually spell out that this means that Thomas had only a day or two before (on the Enduroman website, the wait times I've seen in Dover have been from around 6-20 hours--I don't know what Thomas's own wait time was, but the competitors would want it to be as short as possible, I think) finished running 87 miles continuously. While some people outside the OWS community might consider simply swimming the channel (w/o a wetsuit! gasp!) a death wish, personally, I would consider swimming the channel after running 87 miles a death wish (OK actually just running 87 miles would probably be a death wish for me).

  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member

    Nick was attempting a solo Channel swim under Channel rules.

    He had already completed the Enduroman Arch to Arc in 2014. He was the 19th person to complete this challenge hence the title Enduroman #19.

    It's so terribly sad. There is a very touching obituary on the CS&PF website. http://cspf.co.uk/article/112/nick-thomas-obituary

  • Another death in the EC yesterday. :( The person was an Arch to Arc participant. Anyone know if he was wearing a wetsuit?

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member

    Local BBC report of the sad death Mr Douglas Waymark, ("40's"), attempting an Arch to Arc, swimming with CS&PF.


Sign In or Register to comment.