Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

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When we toured schools around London, I was surprised that all the schools seemed to have swimming as part of their curriculum. They go to great effort to rent buses to transport students to local pools as a part of the physical education, beginning at an early age. At first it seemed strange, but then it hit me - of course, it is an island surrounded by water.

England is wildly more safety conscious than the US in most areas. An English journalist recently wrote that he was appalled that Americans don't teach all their children to swim. Now come to think of it, in the US if you don't have money to pay for lessons, access to a pool, and a parent who has time to transport their children to and from lessons, their kiddos don't learn how to swim. Maybe the English are on to something?

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This led me to think about English Channel swimmers tackling the wet equivalent of climbing Mt Everest. Swimmers need to be mentally and physically prepared for huge challenges:

- Busiest international seaway in the world (400 commercial vessels moving daily in 4 directions)
- Mental and physical exhaustion (10 - 20 hours of swimming)
- Hypothermia (water 15-18 degrees C)
- Unpredictable weather and swells
- Eating/drinking while swimming
- Strong tides
- Seaweed and trash as obstacles
- Anticyclones (causes thick fog)
- Occasional jellyfish
- Sunburn

With a £2300 escort boat fee (paid at least 2 yrs in advance), 6 hour ratified swim in temperatures below 62 degrees F, completed medical forms, and lots of training, you can be on your way to the short list of successful swimmers crossing the Strait of Dover.

However, your swim will not be officially recorded if you use a wetsuit or anything else that may aid your speed, buoyancy, heat retention, or endurance. Nose clips, goggles and earplugs are permitted however. Your buddy in the escort boat is allowed to hand you light sticks for safety, as well as food and water. S/he can jump in and swim beside you, too, for encouragement. Isn't that good news?

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Most swim from England to France (not as often the other direction). The success rate of solo swims is approximately 50% (which is actually higher than the UK driving test pass rate, I might add).

And because French law bans many unconventional vessels, you may have to leave from the UK if you want to cross in your bathtub, hot air balloon, amphibious vehicle, jet pack, kayak, or most recently in 2010, on water skis - all of which have been attempted.

How would you choose to cross The Channel?

[Sources: Wikipedia, CS&PF]

XO Laura
P.S. The kids are having their first 'snow day' - no school! Did you hear the kids whoop and holler across the globe? 
 
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