Ben Brophy

Qualifying for the English Channel!

Welcome back to another blog, it’s been a busy month but the blogs are coming to get you up to speed. First of all I think I should start with what it took to qualify for the official English Channel challenge!

You may not be aware but in order for me to swim the English Channel officially I have to first qualify under set conditions beforehand. Earlier last month I set out on a very, very cold Saturday with temperatures of just 12c in official clothing that consists of a pair of speedos, hat and goggles.

The aim was to swim in open water for 6 hours non-stop including feeds, this was going into the unknown for me and I was quite nervous about how cold it had become. Nevertheless I knew that I needed this swim and I was determined to last the 6 hours.

Every hour I would stop and “tread water” (which is simply swimming still and upright for a feed) where I would then look to take on a lot of water and some food to keep me going. I have heard a lot of talk by other swimmers past and present swear by the use of jelly babies! It sounds quite strange at first but actually works quite well in terms of ease to eat and sugar etc.


As I set off the coldness hit me straight away and it felt like I was swimming in one of my post training ice baths. It is quite horrible experience and your mind is telling you get out, get out. Very quickly your feet start to loose feeling and become stiff, this is the first time that this had happen to me and it was a huge worry to me you start to think the worse. Swimming in these temperatures without protection your body doesn’t really ajust to the coldness that may happen at warmer temperatures. You have to consider the very cold but strong winds. During the whole 6 hours my body did not stop shivering and I remember a long leg of my 850m lap which cut across the heart of the big lake in Birmingham having a massive drop in temperature. So much so that swimmers had to speed up on this leg just to keep some degree of warmth.

During my swim I faced a number of uncontrollable events which I will have on my channel swim at some point. Although these were perhaps not the same type of events it was great experience. For example, after 5 hours I had a walker’s dog attempt to lick me as I was doing a feed, I had two men jump into the lake and attempt to keep up with myself and other swimmers before being taken out, ducks, swans and geese! All in all it was an eventful swim!

As a write this I am happy to say one member of that 6 hour swim has just completed his official swim. Known to the team as the tank, it was no surprise to hear that he missed the turning of the tides which is why you swim in a “S” shape, meaning he had to swim on three tides and in three “C” shapes. As a result of missing that tide he had trouble finishing in the 17 hour mark and instead finished in an amazing 21.30 hours!

That is all from me for this blog, as we enter into the last two months the blogs will be coming thick and fast but lastly I wish to say a special thank you to everyone who has donated to the cause! It is great to know what I’m doing is making a difference, and please do leave your name and a message on our site as I find it very motivating!

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