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

22 Sep 2013Sylvain Estadieu swims the Channel Butterfly

Sylvain Estadieu swims the Channel Butterfly

An awesome swim from Sylvain Estadieu in swimming the Englsh Channel butterfly

It took Sylvain 16 hours and 42 minutes to complete a swim of the English Channel using just butterfly.  Every single stroke was judged to be proper ASA approved butterfly, which is a phenomenal achievement

See his track by clicking here.

Donal Buckley writes a good account of the swim:

On Monday 23 September 2013, Sylvain Estadieu, a 27-year old Frenchman from Strasbourg, became the first ever man to swim the English Channel using butterfly stroke.

Sylvain left Shakespeare Beach, outside Dover Harbour, at 09:47am on Sunday morning just after low tide. The pilot was Mike Oram of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, pilot for 2012's English Channel record swim by Trent Grimsey, with co-pilot James Willi, and CS&PF senior Observers, Mike Ball and Tanya Harding.

The morning was humid and cloudy with a moderate sea surface ruffled by a light breeze. Sylvain's butterfly is a highly economical open water stroke honed by many years and metres of training, with a cadence of twenty-four to twenty-eight strokes per minute.

Sweeping out of Dover on an ebbing tide, Sylvain first went south-west before entering the westerly shipping lane. Conditions changed throughout the day; the early breeze dropping to very light in the afternoon, smoothing the Channel water as Sylvain butterflew toward the eastern shipping lane. He struggled for a few hours with occasional sickness causing Mike Oram and crew of two-way Channel swimmer Lisa Cummins and Channel Soloists Donal Buckley and Zoe Sadler to adapt his feeds, “on the fly”.

The overcast sky led to an early deep night around 7 pm as the smooth surface once again roughened. Maintaining a smooth stroke, Sylvain battled a chop that he couldn't see coming.

Ebullient with an ineffable and almost stereotypical Gallic charm Sylvain happily scoffed brioche and pain-au-chocolat as he took the long track diagonally south-east down the shipping lane. As he finally entered French inshore waters, the clouds over La Manche, as the English Channel is known in France, loosened enough to finally allow a partial moon illumine the surface. The water calmed and became visible, as if to welcome the Flying Frenchman home.

The course plotted expertly and deliberately by pilot Mike Oram was designed to put Sylvain on land at the cliffs below Cap Petit Blanc. At 2.29 am Sylvain entirely cleared the water by climbing a low ledge on the cliff. The klaxon on Gallivant whooped and split the quiet Channel night, and our faint cheers on the water belied our astonishment and admiration for the new hero.

Vive La France!

[ Photos courtesy of Donal Buckley ]


Sandettie Lightship Observations

8am, 28th March 2024

Water: 49.3 °F (9.6 °C)

Air: 47.5 °F (8.6 °C)

Wind Speed: 26.0 kn (48.2 km/h)

Wind Direction: SW (220°)

Channel Weather 

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