2011 RNLI Channel Relay

2011 RNLI Channel Relay

Six members of the Serpentine Swimming Club will be attempting to cross the English Channel to raise money for the RNLI on the first tide of the Channel Swimming season, beginning on 25 June.

About the English Channel

The English Channel is one of the narrowest but most famous, busiest shipping lanes in the world and has an estimated 600 vessels moving up and down its lanes each day.

How far is the swim?

As the crow flies, the English Channel is 21 miles (32km) long and runs between Shakespeare’s Cliff near Dover to Cap Griz Nez near Calais. However, it is not possible to swim in a straight line across the Channel due to the tides and currents so the actual swim could be considerably longer.

How long will it take?

It’s difficult to estimate the length of a time a Channel Swim will take: so much depends on tides and changing weather conditions.

However, the fastest recorded Channel swim is just under 7 hours. The average solo Channel swim is approximately 14 hours and the average relay swim is about 12-13 hours.

What’s so challenging about the swim?

Our six swimmers will need to be prepared both physically and mentally to be successful in the swim. Aside from the challenge of avoiding the many ferries and oil tankers, they will also have to handle varying water temperatures of between 14° – 18° C (57° – 64.5° F), fast-changing weather and sea conditions, as well as dodging seaweed, jetsam and jellyfish.

To prepare for this, the team is putting on weight, training in Dover harbour and on the South East coast in both light and darkness to acclimatise to the cold and differing weather conditions.

What about wetsuits?

Channel swimmers don’t wear wetsuits. The Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, which verifies the swim, states that swimmers are not allowed to wear anything that will aid warmth, buoyancy, endurance or speed.

The team

The final relay team will comprise six swimmers, but the rest of the team is vitally important to the team’s success, providing swim training support and organising us. 

The swim team:

  • Jonathan Benton

  • Alan Mitchell

  • James Norton

  • Tory Thorpe

  • Peter Impey

  • Erika Norris

The rest of the team:

  • Helena Price

  • Jeremy Cavanagh

  • Anne McAlpine Leny

  • Kristy McIntyre

  • Nick Adams


About RNLI

Funded by charitable donations, the lifeboat crews and lifeguards of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution have saved over 139000 lives at sea since 1824.

The RNLI runs 24/7 search and rescue operations, operates 160 lifeguard stations and encourages sea and beach safety across the 19,000-mile coastline of the UK.  The RNLI doesn’t just help those at sea (including Channel swimmers), but also people who get in difficulty in the Thames.

To keep saving lives, the RNLI rely on more than 40,000 volunteers - on lifeboats, at stations, on beaches, and in fundraising. It is because so many crew members, shore helpers, fundraisers and others are volunteers that such a high proportion of funds can be spent on first-class lifeboats and equipment.

Even with volunteers, it costs £400,000 a day to operate the RNLI. Here are a few facts and figures:

It costs:

  • £400 to kit out a lifeboat crew member

  • £9,500 for an inshore rescue boat

  • £165,000 for class Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat

  • £255,000 for a refit of Severn class all-weather lifeboat

The RNLI carries out truly awe-inspiring and life-saving work, which desperately needs our support.

To help raise money for this fantastic cause, we have set up a Virgin Giving Page.

Please remember, for every £1 you give, 84p will go towards a rescue operation – towards saving a life.

For more information about the RNLI, please visit their website