Sam Penny unsuccessful in first winter crossing attempt of English Channel

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46-year-old extreme swimmer, Sam Penny, was forced to abandon his Channel crossing attempt this morning as he bid to become the first person to swim the English Channel in winter.

After setting off from Dover at 04:39am this morning, Sam was said to have started well and was undeterred by the challenging conditions, with water temperatures sitting around 10.5 degrees and the air temperature around 8 degrees.


But despite Sam's strong start, he was forced to abandon his crossing at 07:57am after 3 hours and 18 minutes in the water as his body "wasn't feeling it today".

Speaking on Facebook shortly after, Sam wrote: "Wow. Feeling a bit deflated. Insanely tough. I’ll give a full video report later today. In the meantime, I’m going for a breakfast steak and beer."

The Channel Swimming Association praised Sam's efforts on their Facebook page, stating: "Unfortunately Sam Penny's swim has just been aborted. He is fine but just wasn't feeling it today. Amazing attempt Sam! Many wouldn't even step in the water at 10 degrees!"

Sam was attempting to beat the current record for the 'latest Channel crossing', which is currently held by Howard James, who crossed on 3 November 2016.

No one has ever attempted a crossing in the winter months in the history of English Channel swimming, which began after Captain Matthew Webb successfully crossed in 1875.

Speaking before today's attempted crossing, Sam said: “There is a good chance I won’t make it, but someone has to be the first to try it. If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

“This may seem crazy, but this is just another step up from my previous goals. My philosophy is simple. I aim to be better than I was yesterday and always have a goal to aim for. Just as long as your goal is bigger than your last one, you will be on your way to achieving greatness.”

In preparation for these conditions, Sam swam the channel in 2018 and this year he completed an Ice Mile in 3.9 degree water. He has also spent countless hours sitting in a chest freezer of freezing water to acclimatise himself to the chilling waters of the Channel in December.

It is yet to be announced whether Sam will attempt another crossing this month.

Here's a link where you can see the journey that Sam took this morning.

Website: sampenny.com Facebook: @sampennyinternational Instagram: @fastargonaut


01 Cover April

Issue 37 April 2020

  • The Vicar of Dipping: Spirituality, connectedness and the instant hit of wild swimming with the Reverend Kate Bottley
  • Swimming to Recovery: How open water swimming helped Simon Harmer recover from losing both his legs in Afghanistan
  • Adventures in Winter Swimming: What happened when Olympian Keri-anne Payne tried cold water swimming?
  • The Return of the Fish Hawk: Swimming and nature
  • How to Swim Faster: Training ideas to pick up your pace

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