Featured,  View from the Water

Channel swimming training in Dover

Given that next issue we’ll be taking an in-depth look at Channel Swimming I thought it would be worth making my way down to Dover Harbour to observe a Channel training session with the famous Freda Streeter – otherwise known as the Channel General. The welcome couldn’t have been warmer, although the water certainly could. At weekends, aspiring Channel Swimmers gather here in their hundreds, making it one of the best open water swimming locations in the country. Swimmers plod away between the two harbour walls – covering a distance just short of a mile each time – for the number of hours prescribed by Freda. On shore, the beach team (on my visit Barry and Irene Wakeham) supply Vaseline and prepare drinks and snacks to keep swimmers chafe-free and energised for up to eight hours of swimming. If you take the time to listen, you’ll hear Freda patiently answering questions and offering advice. Two tips that I picked up: (1) neither look forward or back – England never seems to fall away and France never gets closer – just keep swimming and (2) keep your feeds short – 10 minutes wasted on feeding could mean the difference between catching and missing a tide, and that’s the difference between success and failure.