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The English Channel is considered the Everest of open water swimming. Less people have swam the Channel than have climbed to the top of the World.

However, this is something Paul Rowe from Consett is attempting in September this year to fulfil a childhood dream.


The 21 mile stretch of water, between Dover and Cap Griz Nez near Calais is expected to be around 16-18C in September and therefore cold water acclimatisation is essential to attempt the crossing, which Paul is hoping to do in around 15 hours. Therefore, when Derwent Reservoir recently reopened for swimming just a couple of weeks ago, Paul was keen to meet with staff at the sailing club to carry on open water training, wearing nothing but the basic standard swim costume, one standard swim cap and goggles as required for a Channel swim to be officially ratified.

One of the key training requirements prior to even being allowed to start a swim across the channel is a 6 hour qualifying swim in water no warmer than 15.5C / 60F. On Saturday 3rd July, weather was looking good for this and Paul and support crew headed to the reservoir bright and early. Support kayak / paddle board was led by Bruce Ironsmith who stayed with Paul throughout, and also joined by Anna Little and Stuart Donald. Paul also needed to feed each hour, with a warm carbohydrate drink plus a small snack (peaches / swiss roll) and this support was led by daughter Olivia and helped by Karen Bousfield.

Water temperature had dropped quite significantly from the warmer swim the previous Wednesday and therefore when he started it was a chilly 13.5C! Conditions were favourable throughout. The first hour allowed a slightly wider loop to be swam but for the following 5 hours multiple loops of the 500m course were swam (anyone want to count them?). 6 hours after starting, a rather cold and shivering Paul emerged from the water, happy that the qualifying swim had been completed successfully. A few warm layers, a hot water bottle and several coffees later warmth had returned and the 6 hour certificate proudly signed and sent off to the Channel Swimming Association ready for the big day.

Thanks to everyone at Derwent Reservoir who assisted in making this happen

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