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

03 Aug 2019Paul Harris swims the Channel

Paul Harris swims the Channel

So I called the Pilot Wednesday 31st July to see if I would be attempting a Channel Swim that week, He said "possibly Saturday, if not then I would be going Sunday/Monday" Great I thought it's going to be happening. I called the Pilot back Thursday & he said, good news you can go tomorrow (Friday 2nd August), meet in Dover at 11am - I had a split second thought of Oh God, then a relief settled in to know I was going.

After speaking with my Crew to confirm they were all available I called the Pilot back to confirm I would be making my attempt.

We arrived in Dover at 11am, turned up called the pilot woke him up from being a sleep as he had just returned from a previous swimmer, I waited an hour, phoned him again & woke him up for the 2nd time, I was hoping to have already started my swim by this time.

We met with the Channel Swimming Observer who was their to make sure that I stick to the rules of Channel Swimming, we met the Pilots, loaded everything on to the boat, as we sailed out we had another 45 minute wait for the boat to leave Dover and go to Samphire Hoe.

We had a 10 minute warning, shortly after we arrived at the shore, I jumped in swam to the beach & cleared the water, waited for the claxon to sound (Which I had heard so many times watching Youtube videos) which indicated the start of my English Channel Swim.

My plan was to be focused try to not swim to near the boat as I did not want to get involved in to much conversation as I know that every second counts when it comes to reaching Cap Griz Nais, if you get your timings wrong it can add an extra couple of hours to your swim, which could in some cases mean completing the swim & not, I had also planned to feed on the hour every hour & keep the feeds to 30 seconds maximum, on the 5th hour I then had crew member Sean Collins in to join me which helped keep me motivated especially as I thought I would be entering the Separation Zone (This is where a lot of the Jelly Fishes tend to be), as Sean finished his hour swim & I was entering the French Shipping lane I started to see the odd jelly, about 5 minutes later it felt as though they were everywhere, I got the odd sting on the leg, arm & then I felt a stinging going from my face, down my left side of the body, down past my waist all the way down my right leg, a split second later I had the same going down my right hand side, at this point I think my whole body was tingling, it was a case of welcome to Swimming the English Channel.

Around 7 hours I started to feel the odd chill running through my body, at this point I asked Dan Harlott to prepare me a hot water to try to warm my core up, at 9pm I had Steve Henigan join me for an hour which was nice as I had joined Steve on his successful solo swim 2 weeks earlier, as the sun went down & the night kicked in the Chill feeling was still their until I was informed by the pilot that I had reached the inshore waters (3 miles to France), immediately I felt as though the water went up by a couple of degrees & at this point I knew that I had to give it everything if I wanted to land on the Cap & believe me this was the aim!! 3 Miles takes me roughly 1 hour 27 on a good day, I had hoped to try to achieve this within 1 hour & 30 minutes, as I approached my feed I asked how far I had to go hoping that I would be near, unfortunately the tide had turned & that was it I had missed it. I must admit that I felt as though the wind was taken out of my sales as I swam as hard as I could for 90 minutes but made very little ground.

Just as I started to feel a bit down I was joined again by Steve for another hour which helped me pick the pace up, I started seeing lights in the distance and thought that I would hopefully be coming in to land, just as I saw this the pilot starting to get the rib ready which I knew was a good sign as I would soon be reaching land, but as soon as he got the rib ready he disappeared again below deck. Steve finished his swim, I had another feed and asking the crew how far?  I heard Ross Garnett saying he could see people on the beach, I didn't know if that was his polite way of saying shut up & keep swimming or if I was closer than I thought, the next minute, the pilot launched the rib and was accompanying me in to shore, 3 minutes later that was it, I was guided to a random set of steps as I climbed up the steps their was 4 locals waiting to greet me, they asked what I was doing & I replied I had just swum from Dover, England to France - Yes, my name is Paul Harris & I am an English Channel Swimmer!!!!!!

So now to the Thank yous!!

Their is absolutely no way I would of achieved this without my support crew in Dan Harlott who was amazing & regimented with my feeds, I tried to be strict to 30 seconds but did occasionally go over, when I did Dan & Sean did remind me!

Sean Collins, Sean was great not only accompanying me on my Channel Swim but also as a training partner, also updating Sharna Harris Was Murray of my progress when I was near the end.

Ross Garnett, Ross captured my moments taking pictures, offering constructive support via the white board & his constant supportive enthusiasm

Steve Henigan, Steve also accompanied me on my swims in the Channel, but also got to meet Steve throughout my training down in Dover since the 2nd weekend in May.

Kim Brown my physio, thank you for keeping me injury free.

The Dover Channel Training Team, It was amazing meeting so many people down in Dover all who are training for their own mammoth swim challenges.

The public, Whilst taking on this Challenge I wanted to help make a difference to the local Sick, Disabled & terminally-ill Children, but also Chris Mepham who is going through a whole load of rubbish (I don't know how) dealing with Cancer (Chris sadly passed away 6th January 2019, leaving behind 2 girls, 3 & 6 along with his wife Sarah) thank you for supporting me by generously donating what you can afford, every penny has made me so grateful & from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!

Finally my wife & amazing Girls,
Thank you will never be enough for the constant support you have given me on every challenge I do, but this really had taken over my life, Thank you & I love you all.

Mum & Dad, Sorry to put you through the worry of the English Channel but in needed to be done.


I have completed 3 Relay Channel Swims, 1 unofficial and 1 SOLO, not sure what to do next?  Perhaps a 2-way SOLO???


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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