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Friday, September 14, 2012

Records In Catalina Channel vs. English Channel

Petar Stoychev was the first person to break 7 hours in the English Channel. Trent Grimsey became the second person to break 7 hours in the 18.2 nautical mile (20.9 statute mile) Channel. But how do these swims among the world's elite compare to the fastest times of its near-equivalent in the Pacific Ocean, the 17.5nm (20.2 statute mile) Catalina Channel?

Even though the English Channel is longer, colder, more tidal, and rougher, the average times of the fastest are faster in the English Channel than in the Catalina Channel.

Why is that? And how do the top swimmers compare in each channel?

1. 7:15 by Penny Lee Dean, USA, MC in September 1976
2. 7:37 by Pete Huisveld, USA, MC in August 1992
3. 7:43 by Karen Burton, USA, CM in October 1994
4. 8:05 by Todd Robinson, USA, CM in August 2009
5. 8:07 by Hank Wise, USA, CM in October 2010
6. 8:14 by Chad Hundeby, USA, CM in September 1993
7. 8:20 by Gemma Jensen, Australia, CM in August 2006
8. 8:27 by Jim McConica, USA, CM in October 1983
9. 8:28 by Rendy Lynn Opdycke, USA, CM in August 2008
10. 8:31 by John York, USA, MC in October 1977
11. 8:32 by John York, USA, CM in October2000

1. 6:55 by Trent Grimsey, Australia, E-F in September 2012
2. 6:57 by Petar Stoychev, Bulgaria, E-F in August 2007
3. 7:03 by Christof Wandratsch, Germany, E-F in August 2005
4. 7:05 by Yuri Kudinov, Russia, E-F in August 2007
5. 7:16 by Vitek Rostislav, Czech Republic, E-F in August 2009
6. 7:17 by Chad Hundeby, USA, E-F in September 1994
7. 7:20 by Christof Wandratsch, Germany, E-F in August 2003
8. 7:21 by Petar Stoychev, Bulgaria, E-F in August 2006
9. 7:22 by David Meca, Spain, E-F in August 2005
10. 7:25 by Yvetta Hlavacova, Czech Republic, E-F in August 2006
11. 7:40 by Penny Lee Dean, USA, E-F in July 1978

The English Channel is definitely more tidal so there are significantly greater lateral forces against the English Channel swimmer than the Catalina Channel swimmer. The Catalina Channel is also more calm on any given swim in the English Channel because the Catalina Channel swimmer starts at night when the winds are non-existent or light in most cases. With lesser winds and therefore less surface turbulence, the incidence of swallowing water and resultant seasickness are opt to be lesser problems in the Catalina Channel than the English Channel.

Unless there are unseasonably warm spells in the Catalina Channel, the English Channel generally has more jellyfish than the Catalina Channel. Although there are more shark and whale sightings in the Catalina Channel, the probability of encounters between swimmers and sharks and whales is extremely low. While crew members occasionally see sharks and whales in the Catalina Channel, the swimmers themselves rarely encounter either of these ocean creatures.

To swim the shortest distance possible, it is definitely more difficult in the English Channel where if a swimmer misses Cap Gris-Nez in France, then the distance becomes greater. In contrast, in the Catalina Channel, if a swimmers misses the absolute shortest point on the California mainland, there is still plenty of land close by to finish on that only requires a few more hundreds of meters swimming.

In the Catalina Channel, there is a great deal of confidence among swimmers that their scheduled day with their pilot will be swimmable. The Catalina Channel may not be exactly flat or optimal on any given day, but the Pacific Ocean is certainly swimmable for the well-trained swimmer. There are specific reasons why the ocean was originally called "Pacífico" because of the calm seas encountered by Ferdinand Magellan on his journey across the world's biggest ocean.

Contrary to the general comfort and confidence that the Catalina Channel will be swimmable on their given day, athletes facing the English Channel just never know. They could wait for days or weeks, hoping and not knowing when they will swim. The added stress of the increasing financial burden and the fundamental uncertainty can psychologically deflating and frustrating. And this uncertainty in the English Channel - so foreign to the Catalina Channel swimmer - continues not only right up to the start of the swim, but also right up until the swimmer touches land in France because of the tempestuous nature of the English Channel.

So if the English Channel is longer, rougher, more unpredictable with more jellyfish that generates more frustration, uncertainty and stress, why is it that the fastest swimmers can cross the English Channel faster than across the Catalina Channel?

It may be for a variety of reasons:

1. Many more swimmers attempt the English Channel than the Catalina Channel.
2. With so many more attempts, the pilots because more savvy and can direct swimmers across in a more optimal manner.
3. Many more fast, young, professional marathon swimmers attempt the English Channel than the Catalina Channel.
4. While the average woman is faster than the average man across the English Channel, the fastest men are still faster than the fastest women. With the exception of Chad Hundeby, the Catalina Channel has not been attempted by the top men in the world at their prime as in the English Channel (e.g., Trent Grimsey, Petar Stoychev, Christof Wandratsch, Yuri Kudinov, Vitek Rostislav, David Meca).

But who really knows? Channel swimming is notoriously fickle. In some cases swimmers like Penny Dean swim faster in the Catalina Channel (7:15) than in the English Channel (7:40) and in other cases the reverse is true (Chad Hundeby swam 7:17 in the English Channel vs. a 8:14 in Catalina).

What is universally true is that the channel swimmer in the English Channel and Catalina Channel can both Expect The Unexpected.

Photo shows Hank Wise on his 8:07 Catalina Channel crossing.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Association

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The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE

The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.

The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.

The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.

Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.

The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."

Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."

The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme

Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]

Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland

Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance

Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony

Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute

The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:

* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:

* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac



An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

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