Basic questions about English Channel swim

InthepocketInthepocket Member
edited December 2014 in Beginner Questions
I'm hoping to do a Ec relay next year, can anyone give an opinion on these questions.

Can you explain how the positions and windows work?

4 person relay, how many crew do you think are needed?

What's the main difference between a spring and Neap attempt?

I have been searching the back threads here and on the cs&pf forum but haven't found specific answers yet.




  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    4 person relay, how many crew do you think are needed?


    No crew needed for a relay swim.

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • Thank you both.

    The first link is great Niek thanks
  • Spring tides are on the full and new moons. Neap tides are on the quarter moons. All other things being equal, neap tides are usually more friendly to swimmers because the tides aren't as big / strong. But the tides in the EC are always huge, as others here know far better than me.
  • Thanks a lot, I've read everything there Niek and it answered quite a few questions I didn't even know I had:-)
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited August 2013
    Niek wrote:
    Lucky for you we got permissions to copy all the pearls of wisdoms he posts in the Channel Swimmers group.
    I would think you are doing everyone a favor by compiling them in one place. Then when people ask about certain topics on the chat group, they can be directed to the pearl repository, rather than be publicly chastised for asking the question, as often happens there.
  • MandaiMandai Charter Member
    I found your website extremely helpful Niek.
  • ttriventtriven Senior Member
    The link isn't working for me :( I am working on my date for 2016 and would love more info. Is it still active?
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    One or two is probably all you'll need. The other swimmers should be able to help out considerably. I've done other relays were we all took part in being the "crew". The size of your boat should be taken into consideration as well. Those who are looking to lie down might find space as a premium.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    Positions aka slots work on a booking system. Contact as many pilots as you want, ask what they have available for your year.

    Solos are generally booked two to three years in advance. Only number #3 & #4 slots are usually available for the coming year. You can also request a cancellation or standby.

    For solos, depending on the pilot, the pilots book 1 to 5 slots per tide, (adding both CS&PF & CSA) though any pilot who only books one will allocate a specific day or two days to that swimmer.

    Slot #1 gets first refusal for a swim. If they refuse, then #2 gets the refusal, then #3...

    If slot # 1 takes the swim, then #2 will get the next swimmable tide in that window. For #3, #4 or #5 to swim, those above will have to either swim or refuse. Therefore the chance of #5 swimmer getting a shot within a tide is low. I recommend never taking a #3 or #4 (or #5) for soloits.

    Relays slots are easier to find because if the swimmers are properly trained they can tackle worse conditions than a soloist (since each swimmer will get a rest). Relays also more commonly go on spring tides which soloists commonly (but not exclusively) try to avoid.

    Relay number though have hugely increased because of charity swims (such as Aspire UK who organise multiple teams per year). The sheer number of relays are now putting pressure on the pilots over solo slots as relays are being booked by charities in advance of having any actual swimmers and could be construed as a growing "competition/threat/problem" for solo Channel swimmers.

  • ttriventtriven Senior Member
    I sent an email request to join channel swimmers. Looking to solo in 2016, there are a few slots left. There are no #1 slots as far as I know. And to complicate matters my son goes back to school Aug 9. Do I book 2 back to back slots (1 neap 1 spring?) to make sure I go? How risky is a Spring tide? I imagine the problem is if I can't get across under 11 maybe 12 hours, I could end up swimming a couple more hours? Should I just go in September without family and get warmer water? Ah.. decisions. I couldn't find a neap vs spring discussion on this forum. I understand the tides in general, but there must be some opinions/experience I could learn from.
  • If you go to the CSPF website there is plenty of info on neap vs spring. In addition please feel free to email me directly @ It's been ages since I swam it but I have done a 2 relays as well and there are a myriad of things to think about beside neap vs spring, warm vs warmer, family or no...
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