Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation "Nothing great is easy", Captain Matthew Webb

27 Jan 2015Review of 2014 season

Review of 2014 season

It was the year of the golden oldies - and the terrific teens.

Two remarkable swims could have proved that Oldies Rule OK – then along came a 16 year old girl.

On 20 August Australian Cyril Baldock slipped into the sea from Shakespeare Beach, Dover, at the age of 70 years and nine months. Just 12hrs 45minutes later, piloted by Mike Oram, he clambered on to the rocks at Cap Gris Nez to set a record as the oldest ever swimmer to conquer the Channel – five months older than Guernsey’s Roger Allsopp in 2011.

Cyril’s stroke rate started at 71 per minute, went to 73 and was still 67 at the end. Not bad for a 70 year old.

As our CS&PF observer, Loretta Cox, said:’ An incredible swim and a fantastic achievement.’

But waiting and watching was Otto Thaning from Cape Town. Otto was 73 years old and an eminent heart surgeon in South Africa. Like Cyril and Roger he also had a previous successful Channel swim to his credit when he was younger.

On 6 September, again piloted by Mike Oram, Otto conquered the Channel in 12hrs 52mins. The CS&PF observer Laura Austin reported, a ‘phenomenal’ swim for a man of 73. Otto’s avowed aim was to prove that age was no barrier to achievement. He certainly did that.

One day later 16 year old American Charlotte Samuels from New Jersey entered the water from Shakespeare Beach for what turned out to be an epic battle against the Channel. Piloted by Eddie Spelling , she refused to give up and landed in France 20hrs 44mins 27secs later.

In our sport, those who find it toughest gain the greatest respect.

The CS&PF observer on board, Robert Knibbs, reported: ‘As Charlotte came ashore it became clear from various messages that she had broken the world record for the youngest to swim the triple crown of open water swimming -round Manhattan, the Catalina Channel to Los Angeles and the English Channel, all in the same year.

Cyril, Otto and Charlotte might have grabbed the limelight but there were a whole host of swimmers whose efforts should be up in lights. Everyone who takes on the Channel tests themselves way beyond the normal limits. Win or lose it takes a very special brand of courage and determination to challenge the Channel.

American Dori Miller, 43, now living at Bondi Beach, Australia, wasn’t satisfied with a one-way. Piloted by Lance Oram she completed a two-way in 26hrs. 21mins.

Lance also piloted the fastest one-way swim under the CS&PF banner - Bob Fernald, 47, from New Hampshire, USA, in a time of 10hrs. 50mins.

Tony Bailey,48, from Bethnal Green in London had a titanic struggle to get across one-way on breaststroke in 25hrs 26mins while Germany’s Peter Huecker,57, did it in 23hrs 5mins on front-crawl. All credit to their pilots Eddie Spelling (with Tony) and Neil Streeter (with Peter).

Neil’s crew, Sam Jones, 42, from Dover, spent all summer helping others make it to France – then jumped in and did it herself on 19 September in 16hrs 38mins.

There was heartbreak for 17 year old Camille Anderson from Wingham in Kent – her pilot Paul Foreman had to order her out of the water after 13hours when deteriorating weather conditions made it unsafe to continue. She did not want to come out but it was the right call.

There is a huge renewed world wide enthusiasm for Channel swimming. Liudmila Popova, 32, from Moscow became only the sixth Russian to succeed. Her pilot James Willi stepped into the breach when long established pilot Chris Osmond had to retire through ill-health early in the season. India’s Rohan More, 28, succeeded after persuading his local pool, where he was living in Abu Dhabi, to repeatedly lower the water temperature to 16c in the middle of the night so that he could train.

Sri Chinmoy's Angikar Sasa Djordjevic completed a remarkable triple ironman triathlon from Dover to Heidelberg in Germany. He swam the Channel without a wetsuit on the 6th of September in 18hours 41minutes then cycled from Calais via Brussels, Maastricht and Aachen to Bingen (on the Rhine near Frankfurt) then  ran the 127km from Bingen to Heidelberg where he finished on the 11th of September in a time of 5 days 5 hours during which time he touched five countries - the UK, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

Finally Kate Todd,43, from Hove, East Sussex, made a late decision to go ahead with an attempt and became the last CS&PF solo swim of the year on 2 October.

Make no mistake, relays are also tough – often because of seasickness while on the boat. Surrey based four person relay, Cosmic Rays, made it to France and back in 24hrs 45mins. Holland’s six-man Channel Team Wassenaar did the two way in 28hrs 16mins.

James Salter, 49, and his son Finn,17, from Cote Bampton, Oxfordshire, completed a unique two person one-way relay in a time of 14hrs 57mins.

Two charities, Aspire and Diabetes UK both organized a number of teams and raised tens of thousands of pounds for their good causes.

2014 was also a year when sea temperatures were a little higher than normal, especially so at the beginning of the season. It was 14c instead of 11c when, early in June, I had the privilege of observing the first swim of the year, the Overlord 70 relay commemorating the 70th anniversary of D Day.

I wish I could mention every solo swimmer and every team. Their struggle to succeed is an inspiration. We salute them all.

Kevin Murphy, CS&PF Hon Secretary

For those with an interest in statistics, the CS&PF had 61 successful  solo swims (including one two-way) and 62 successful relays (including 2 two-ways). See http://cspf.co.uk/cs-and-pf-swims for the full list of successful swims in 2014.

Sandettie Lightship Observations

11am, 23rd October 2017


Water: 60.6 °F (15.9 °C)

Air: 32.0 °F (0 °C)

Wind Speed: 15.9 kn (29.4 km/h)

Wind Direction: WSW (250°)

Channel Weather 

Unofficial success on 9 October: 1-way relay TSCM Does the Channel, time 13:07, pilot Neil Streeter https://t.co/liYZDwKOR3 Well done team

2 weeks ago