1927 In the Beginning
“Means are now being discussed by several men interested in swimming to prevent this fine achievement of swimming the channel from being ruined by the artificial means and lack of investigation, and to ensure that the course from England to France shall be the accepted one. It has been decided to form an Association, namely the “Channel Swimming Association” to draw up a code of rules governing Channel swimming”.
Those wishing to associate themselves with the new movement and form the committee included Mr George Rope, Past President of the ASA, and President of the Otter S.C., Mr. H T Bretton, Past President of the ASA, and England’s representative on the International Swimming Federation, Mr H W Jones, Past President of the ASA, Mr J M Dick and Alfred Jonas (Founder of the Webb Memorial)”. William Burgess, Montague Holbein, Jabez Wolffe and Mr Hughes of the Dover Standard also expressed their willingness to join the committee.
The Sport of Channel Swimming traces its origins to the latter part of the 19th Century when Captain Matthew Webb made the first observed and unassisted swim across the Strait of Dover swimming from England to France in 21 hours and 45 minutes.
Some 80 years ago, in 1927, (at a time when less than a dozen swimmers had managed to emulate Captain Matthew Webb’s feat), the Channel Swimming Association (the CSA) was founded to authenticate swimmers claims to have swum the English Channel, and to verify crossing times. Since its formation, the CSA (now Ltd.) has been entrusted with the task of observing and authenticating all Cross-Channel Swims in the Strait of Dover
It assists and advises swimmers who intend to make a Channel attempt. It regulates the conduct of such attempts – and aims to further the Sport of Channel Swimming. Over the years it has developed into an Internationally recognised Organisation
Accreditation is accorded only to those Swimmers registered with the Association – whose attempts have been observed by Association Officials – who agree to be bound by the rules of the Association – and who are escorted by Pilots registered with the Association using Vessels registered with the Association.
Such registration is subject to careful scrutiny and is conditional on remaining in compliance with the Association’s Rules and `Guidelines to Pilots’. These are regularly updated (taking on board suggestions and advice from HMCG and the French Maritime Authorities) and are accepted by responsible swimmers and Pilots as entirely appropriate to the safe conduct of the Sport.
In 1999 the CSA was instructed by its members to undertake a thorough review and overhaul of its constitution and rules. In accord with legal advice and consistent with the members’ contributions, a new constitution was proposed and put to the entire membership for a paper ballot.
The result, by an overwhelming and ‘absolute’ majority led to the formation of, and transfer of assets to, `Channel Swimming Association Ltd.’ a Company limited by guarantee and, to ensure that no financial benefit could accrue to any individual seeking commercial gain, devoid of shareholders. There are other organisations that take part in Channel swimming and their records are available at the Dover Museum.
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