North Channel Swimming Association

North Channel Swimming Association

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The North Channel Swimming Association has been formed to offer any potential North Channel Open Water swimmer an opportunity to swim across one of the most difficult spans of water in the world.

The ethos and core values of the Association are simple. We endeavour to offer the competitor the best chance of successfully crossing the North Channel in an efficient, friendly, and, most importantly, safe manner, on the best day possible within their allocated time period or tidal window.
In order to give full attention to the competitor and guarantee the best possible service, the Association would advise a maximum of two/three competitors per tidal window, based on number of boats and tidal window.

We have in place an agreement with both the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) and the Oceans Seven that our ratification will be accepted as a valid attempt of the North Channel. Therefore, subject to the North Channel Swimming Association’s ratification process, any successful completion will be accepted by both organisations. A copy of the agreed rules can be made available on request.

In addition, the North Channel Swimming Association will have in place a number of globally recognised swimmers who have completed at least the North Channel crossing, as independent adjudicators and assessors. These pre-appointed personnel will have the right to inspect and question any part of the swim should there be any discrepancies or questions which arise up to seven days after a successful swim. The North Channel Swimming Association will comply with the independent pre-appointed personnel’s wishes at all times.

Moreover, the North Channel Swimming Association will provide a fully trained and experienced observer for each competitor. The observer will keep a detailed log of each of the swim’s events, which can be made available to the swimmer post ratification. This log will also be made available to the pre-appointed assessors as a matter of course.

The North Channel Swimming Association will remain independent of the swimmer. However, it will have the capacity to help, encourage, and, most importantly, guide the competitor and give feedback to the swimmer’s crew as each swim progresses.

Swimming Rules:

  1. Swim costumes must be made from textile materials and should consist of one or two pieces. Costumes should not extend past the shoulder or below the knee.
  2. Silicone or latex swimming caps are permitted. Neoprene or other materials are not permitted.
  3. No form of tape is permitted.
  4. Goggles, nose clips and ear plugs may be utilised. No electronic or mechanical assistance or devices are allowed.
  5. Grease or petroleum jelly may be applied to the body before the swim commences.
  6. Once the swim commences, no physical contact is permitted between the swimmer, crew or vessel. Any breach of this will result in disqualification.
  7. A minimum of one crew must be supplied by the swimmer. The crew member should be fluent in the English language. This is non-negotiable for health and safety reasons. The crew member will be expected to have communication with the vessel’s captain and crew with regard to safety and how the swim is progressing. The captain and boat crew reserve the right to advise the swimmer’s crew member of any issues which may arise during the swim. To that effect the captain has sole responsibility for all crew and the swimmer at all times and, based on discussion with relevant bodies, reserves the right to stop the swim from progressing should there be any risk to health or a concern over safety.
  8. The swimmer shall enter the water from the pilot vessel and swim to the shoreline. No moving body of water should exist behind the swimmer. Once the pilot and observer are content, a pre-agreed signal will be sounded, and the swim may commence. In certain circumstances, e.g. Sea-swell or danger to life, the captain will advise where the swim should commence from. This will be by means of a clear signal from the swimmer and the captain.
  9. As with (8) above, the swim will be completed by the swimmer touching the shore. Should there be a risk to health, the captain will indicate where the swimmer should finish and by what means. Again, should there be risk to life or safety concerns, the captain, in consultation with the observer, will judge what is acceptable. The North Channel Swimming Association will not put the swimmer, swimmer’s crew, boat crew or vessel into any danger at any time.
  10. During a solo attempt (one way) a support swimmer may be utilised after a 3-hour period has elapsed for a period of one hour only. No further support swimmers may be utilised until after a further 2-hour period has passed. The support swimmer must not swim in front of the competitor and should come alongside the swimmer from behind. No support swimmers are permitted at any stage of a relay attempt. At the captain’s discretion, a support swimmer will be permitted to enter the water should there be a risk to the competitor.
  11. During a relay attempt, each team member must swim for a minimum of 1 hour in the same order during the complete attempt. During a change over the team member must enter the water from behind the swimmer and overtake. The exiting team member must leave the water within 5 minutes. The order of swimmers and length in the water should be agreed with the observer and captain before the swim commences.
  12. Any changes to these rules can only occur following a consultation with the North Channel Swimming Association and other interested parties. 



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