Aspire Channel Swim

Aspire Channel Swim

Swimming the English Channel is a challenge which fascinates me. The cold, the unpredictable tides, staying out of the path of ships… it’s considered one of the world’s toughest swims for good reason.

It’s certainly not something I’d be ready to attempt… but swimming the distance of the channel in a swimming pool over a period of 3 months? Definitely achievable! 

The Aspire Channel Swim takes place over 12 weeks and involves swimming 22 miles (the distance of the English Channel) as part of a team or individually. The swim takes place in a pool of your choice, and swimmers have from the 14th September to the 7th December to complete the distance. You can swim the distance in one day or break it down into regular sessions over the twelve weeks of the challenge.

The challenge, now in its sixteenth year, is organised by Aspire, a national charity that provides practical help to people who have been paralysed by Spinal Cord Injury.

I’m around 8.2 miles into my challenge so far, so I’m well on-track to finish by early December. I’ve found the challenge great for keeping my swimming mileage up now that we are into the triathlon off-season.

Olympic Swim and World championship medalist Chris Cook is supporting this year’s event, and has shared his tips on improving your front crawl:

  • Make yourself as stretched out as possible.
  • Keep your body position as flat as you can with a slight slope down to the hips to keep the leg kick underwater.
  • Look slightly ahead and down.
  • Reach out as far as you can with the pulling arm as it enters the water.
  • Pull back in an S shape so your arm comes back to your leg.
  • Keep your legs close together and ankles floppy in a continuous motion.
  • Kick from your hips, not your knees.
  • Make small fast kicks, not large down and up beats.
  • Keep one side of your face in the water as your turn to breathe.

Don’t lift your head out of the water, the more your head raises the more your feet will drop (keep that long line so your neck is in line with your spine)

“You want to make your stroke as efficient as possible so think about keeping yourself long and flat so you can be streamlined in the water” says Chris. “Aim to create as little resistance in the water as you can, so you can glide through. It’s also not about how many strokes you can do, better to think how few!”

I’m aiming to improve my technique throughout the challenge, so Chris’s tips have definitely helped.

It’s free to sign up for the Aspire Channel Swim and it’s not too late to get involved as an individual or as part of a team. Record your progress across the channel and see where you rank on the leaderboard against other swimmers. 

Could you swim the distance of the English Channel? 

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