Support persons for English Channel Aspirants

nvr2latenvr2late Central VirginiaCharter Member
edited January 2013 in General Discussion
I am an English Channel aspirant. I am interested in knowing from others, who you are inviting to be your support crew, and how many you plan to have accompany you to Dover, and in the boat. And any other information along these lines. Thanks.


  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    I had two crew (1 double Soloist, 1 very very experienced sailor) and Kevin (Murphy) was my observer. We had Force 5 winds for the last 5 hours so they really could have used another person to help. So I recommend 3 if possible. That said, I crewed a Solo as part of a SIX!! support person team, all the rest of whom went down with sea-sickness (on a good day)

  • I'm going in July, with 2 to 3 crew. as all my friends/family are in busy jobs, they have booked out 3 days to me each, so I have a rota - this is easier to commit to but also once weather gives us the nod, the others may get away from meetings to join me for a great day out . good luck to all EC attempts
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    One of my good swimmer friends and my boyfriend will be on the boat with me. Both have proven track records of NOT getting sea sick. They've each crewed a marathon swim for me before, and in the case of the swimmer friend we've swum together for years, both in pools and in open water. Each person knows a lot about me and they're clear on what I'll need for a swim like this.

    I had a large crew when I swam Catalina and it was just too much stress for me and them- and they almost all got pretty sea sick. My mom and sister will be with me in England, but they're banned from the boat and will just plan on meeting me in France.

    Pick your crew wisely- you want people who can support you and watch you struggle, without getting overly protective/emotional about it. Parents/spouses aren't always the best pick for this reason. You also want someone who knows what your stroke looks like and can tell the difference between when you're trying to work it out and when you're in danger.
  • bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
    I am book for 2013. I plan on bringing my coach with me who got me across Catalina, but can't afford anyone else. Is it possible to pick up support people in England to add to my crew?
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    @bobswims Absolutely. Best thing to do next year is to watch the Channel Google group. Sometimes people put their name up early in the year (Samantha Cooke is one I remember who does it). Otherwise you can just email the group and ask, you'll almost certainly get answers. (That's how I got one of my crew).

    On a related crew note, I have no idea how this stuff is handled outside Ireland, but for Sandycove the way it works is the swimmer pays the flight and accommodation costs for all the crew.

    I cannot recommend crewing highly enough. As swimmers it's part of the paying-it-back ethos, plus it is a fantastic learning experience, and great to be part of someone else's Channel dream.

  • nvr2latenvr2late Central VirginiaCharter Member
    @ssthomas - thank you for providing specific answers about why it is so important to have crew that know you well, but can also watch your struggle. @bobswims, I asked the Channel Secretary about local crew in Dover, and also the innkeepers at Varne Ridge where I wil be staying, and their answers differed somewhat - on the one hand, the Secretary and the innkeepers both said that, yes, there will be Channel Aspirants waiting their turn to swim that may be delighted to feed or crew, but the innkeepers opinion was along the lines of ssthomas, i.e. that it is so important to have suppporters and feeders that know you well, and are proven not to experience sea sickness. I will not have but one or 2 family members with me. And I do not know if they will experience sea sickness or not. It is a situation that I have 16 months to work out!
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    It's very difficult to estimate for seasickness on a solo. Most people who tell you they don;t get sick, have never been on a boat moving at 1 knot in rough seas. So even the ones who think they are sure, need to test in swim conditions.

    I would never expect a waiting Aspirant to crew, rather someone planning for a year later or more likely a successful Soloist who realises what it's all about. One swimmer lost his Solo spot last year because he went out on a boat within a week of his slot, he was too tired afterwards.

  • nvr2latenvr2late Central VirginiaCharter Member
    @loneswimmer - point well taken that the fact that the boat is going as slow a the swimmer, and bobbing like a cork and side to side, only experience in those conditions would have you know how prone you would be to get sick. And a sea sick feeder is not going to be much help - as far a the people in Dover who would be willing to crew - that is also point well taken and I don't mean to misquote anyone!
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    Aspiring swimmers need to think about the psychological effects of crewing too. I had a fellow Channel aspirant on my crew (along with my partner). It was about three weeks before his swim, so it didn't disrupt his swim in that sense (although he worked like a dog, had no sleep, and was exhausted at the end of it). But he did say afterwards that the conditions on the day, and the prolonged struggle that was involved, was quite disturbing to watch, shaking his confidence a bit. Happily, he went on to complete an amazing crossing himself, and in between, crewed for his training partner who was a much stronger swimmer than me and managed to avoid the drawn-out hack at the end that I put everyone through. So, my point is that aspirant swimmers need to think about the possible effects of seeing a not-so-positive experience / outcome in deciding whether or not to crew close to their own swims.

    The two-person crew worked fantastically well from my point of view and I couldn't have asked for better, but it was a long day out (16 hours) and I think that it would have been better to have had 3 people for their sakes, just to share the workload out a bit and leave some time for napping.
  • I was added, pretty last minute, to a crew of 3 (I made 4), last July for a friend of mine. It just so happened that I was the only one who didn't get sick. Not real sure why. The only obvious difference was that I took the Dramamine I'd brought from home (NYC), and they took the British equivalent, Sea Legs. Perhaps it had nothing to do with that. Point is, it was really helpful to have extra crew on hand. By the time everyone else felt better, I was ready for a break.

    My write-up of the EC crewing experience here:

    I also really love this moving piece about being crew for swimmers by Beth Barnes:
  • bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
    On a related crew note, I have no idea how this stuff is handled outside Ireland, but for Sandycove the way it works is the swimmer pays the flight and accommodation costs for all the crew.

    I cover all my expenses for my coach Leslie Thomas. I am just grateful she is willing to take time from her business Swim Art to help me.
    I cannot recommend crewing highly enough. As swimmers it's part of the paying-it-back ethos, plus it is a fantastic learning experience, and great to be part of someone else's Channel dream.

    I acted as an observer for the MIMS Relay last year and what I learned will be invaluable on my swim this summer.
  • nvr2latenvr2late Central VirginiaCharter Member
    @Caitlin Rosen, I have read your account of crewing for Scott, and it is a whole new perspective for the aspiring swimmer to have an understanding of what is going on with the persons in the boat, and also to understand the important connection between swimmer and crew, and the vital role that the crew will play in the success of a swimmer. The prevalence of seasickness is troubling but it good to know that one can recover from it en route and actually enjoy the experience with their loved one in the water - thank you for sharing this most informative account.
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