Nothing Great Is Easy

Nothing Great Is Easy

Nick Adams and his colleagues from the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation launched a newly designed site ( this week.

The content-rich community site is easy to navigate and immediately captures the rapt attention of newcomers and veterans alike. It educates, inspires and presents facts and figures to those whose dream is to swim across the English Channel.

But the site also presents a wealth of information augmented by myriad photos while delving into the unique social community of the marathon swimming world. The site enables visitors to understand the allure of the mystical, magical, monumental English Channel. It unveils what you need to know – and what you didn’t know – for swimmers, for coaches, for spouses, for crew members, for donors to charitable crossings and for those interested in swimming in general, in endurance sports, in adventure or the potential of the human spirit.

It focuses on the individual with plenty of stark black-and-white photographs that are powerful and moving…and moody. For the moods of the English Channel, or any open water swim for that matter, can vary from one moment to the next. Success can be preceded by apparent failure. A second wind can be preceded by self-doubts. A flat sea can be preceded by rough conditions. The glory of morning is preceded by the solitude of the night.

The Photo section is filled with smiling, self-confident individuals of all ages and abilities with the obvious common thread of focus and commitment who eventually triumphed in the tempestuous stretch of water between England and France.

The Basics section provides visitors exactly what they need: the distance, the course, the organisation and, very importantly, the risks and responsibilities of the swimmer. And, the site rightly pulls no punches: “You should not attempt open water swimming without full consideration and acceptance of the risks to your own survival. The main risks associated with Channel Swimming include: hypothermia, inadequate training, overconfidence, inexperience, inadequate preparation and a lack of understanding of the challenge being undertaken. Educating yourself well before committing to swim the Channel is wholly necessary. The educational process involves mental and physical preparation and total commitment.”

While saying one is a Channel swimmer is a proud statement, it is always preceded by hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of swimming and preparation – which those of the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation know too well. “Channel swimming is an extreme sport which requires dedicated training on a consistent basis. A swimmer must mitigate their chances of risking life and limb when planning and participating in an English Channel swim,” warns and advises the site.

Basics section also touts not only the fastest swimmers (Petar Stoychev and Philip Rush) and fastest relays (USA National Swim Team and Sport City Mexico), but also the slowest (Jackie Cobell and Antonio Abertondo) – an indication that the Channel community celebrates all who work hard to step upon the opposite shore. However, the site does not break down the record holders by gender or include a variety of other facts that might interest the die-hard aficionado like the earliest and latest dates of crossing, the most failures preceding a successful crossing or swims by the disabled.

The Pilots section is especially helpful with highlights of Mike Oram, Chris Osmond, Neil Streeter, Paul Foreman, Lance Oram and Eddie Spelling. The change in coloration of the pilot’s photos as visitors scroll over the content is one of the excellent graphic touches to the site for the voices of these pilots can be seen by the swimmers as sweet (“…you’re almost there…”) to sour (“…you are not yet at the separation zone…”), from helpful and motivating (“…just put your head down and swim…”) to frustratingly authoritative (“…you have to pick up your pace to get through this…”).

From training and nutrition to the post-swim blues and its relationship with the Channel Swimming Association, the website is comprehensive and a wonderful resource, laid out in a graphically pleasing manner.

The site lists the successful soloists and relays of 2011 – and how many of these swimmers are honoured with a long list of awards including the Eurotunnel Trophy, Gertrude Ederle Award, Des Renford Award, Peter Adams Award, Frank Richards Endurance Award, Audrey Scott Award, Ray Scott Award, Alison Streeter MBE Award, Barrie Darling Award, Dover Straits Award, Longest Standard Relay Crossing Award, Observers Award, Most Meritorious Special Category Relay, CS&PF “Special Thanks” Award, Seafarers Award, JLDSC For Special Recognition Award and Cup, and Leo Cox Award.

The site makes those who have conquered the English Channel proud and offers plenty of information to those who aspire to join the fraternity of 1,245 swimmers who have made a total of 1,691 solo crossings since Captain Matthew Webb first uttered the motto of the Federation boldly blazened on every page of the website, Nothing Great Is Easy.

For to achieve a successful crossing of the English Channel is, indeed, a great thing done by great people supported by great people and promoted by this website.

As Nick Adams, the CS&PF President and a seven-times English Channel swimmer, says, “The site is special because it gives people a better window into our sport of open water swimming enabling them to see what we are really all about.”

Just like swimmers aiming to hit Cape Griz Nez spot on, the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation hit its new website spot on.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones