Swimming the channel is an incredible feat. 22 miles of rough sea, shipping lanes and jellyfish separate the English coastline from the French coastline. Currents, wind, and speed of swimmer can all dramatically effect the route each swimmer takes, and realistically, few swimmers will swim 22 miles. Most will swim more, as currents push them away from their desired path and add on many extra hours to their swim. Only a small group of people get to call themselves a channel swimmer, and apparently more people have climbed Mount Everest than have swum the channel.
Swimming in a pool removes all these issues. 1,416 lengths of a 25m pool, no waves, clear water, and a wall to push off approx every 25 seconds. Aspire run the event to raise money for the work they do with people paralysed by spinal cord injuries. Intended to take place over a 12 week period, I decided to make it difficult for myself and complete it over 4 days. Initially the plan was to complete it over one weekend, but the local pool timetable just didn't offer enough hours in one weekend for me to swim. I had also dramatically underestimated the perils of swimming in the local pool. I usually try and swim out of peak hours, which tends to be late evenings when the students are well into pre-drink or early morning, when the students are still fast asleep nursing hangovers (I hate to generalise and am going only off my own student experience..). However, tasked with swimming 5.5 miles a day (354 lengths) I had to swim at all possible sessions, and therefore found myself frequently involved in what can only be described as lane wars.
I've always thought pool etiquette was a simple thing to understand. There's really only 2 things to follow; 1) swim in the lane that best describes your speed, 2) be considerate of other swimmers in the lane. I could write an essay on what occurred, but lets just say neither rule was followed and I spent many a lap bobbing along waiting for someone in-front to leisurely breaststroke in the fast lane, or to reach the wall for the swimmer who had been hanging on to the side for a rest to decide that they wanted to swim right now, and kick off just as i began to turn.
So as it turns out, swimming the channel in a local pool can also have its problems, but it for sure makes you feel good when you finish and appreciate the fact that you are healthy and able to swim. After 4 days of following the black line on the floor, I think its time to start looking at swimming outside in open water. I've even found myself googling swimming the channel for real...