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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The First Dál Riata Channel Attempt In 1878

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Historian and author Angus Martin was interested in the Dál Riata Channel Swim (otherwise known as the Mull of Kintyre Swim) by Wayne Soutter in the North Channel.

Interestingly, Martin uncovered evidence in The Campbeltown Courier newspaper of July 27th 1878 of an attempt by Frederick Cavill (shown on left) who attempted a swim in 1878 along the same course that Soutter completed a crossing in 2012 (the yellow and blue pins in the map above show how close the start locations of the two swimmers were).

Cavill, a member of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and an accomplished swimmer, made his attempt only 3 years after Captain Matthew Webb crossed the English Channel. Cavill made two attempts of the English Channel in 1876 that came tantalizingly close to succeeding, and later moved to Australia where he did a number of unprecedented open water swims as he raised 9 children who all swam well.

The Campbeltown Courier article reads as follows,

The Proposed Channel Swim

...a sudden break in the weather, which bids fair to remain unsettled until after the neap tides, prevented Mr. Frederick Cavill starting on his adventurous journey across St. George's Channel on Wednesday morning. This came as the climax to several disappointing circumstances which had marred the stars on previous days, and justified Mr. Cavill in adopting the counsel of his friends to postpone his attempt till the neap tides of August.

Up till eight o'clock on Tuesday evening there was a prospect of the start being made under tolerably favorable conditions. The programme, as then arranged, was to run down in the course of the evening from Sanda Island to Seas Point, a headland between two and three miles south-east of the Mull of Cantyre, and for Cavill to enter the water there about 3:30 A.M. on Wednesday.

It was understand that this would give him some two and a half hours of the flow, and enable him to get well out from the land before meeting the ebb-tide, carrying him to the north-west in the direction of Rathlin Island, leaving it for the succeeding flood to bring him south again in the neighborhood, it was hoped, of Fair Head or Tor Point.

Although the distance from coast to coast is only 12.5 miles, and the straight course from Deas Point to the Irish coast about 16 miles, the passage of the Channel at this part is exceedingly hazardous, and forms perhaps the severest test of the endurance of a swimmer that can be found round the British Isles. At spring tides the current sweeps from the northward through the narrow entrance to the Irish Channel at a rate of nearly six knots an hour, and even when the tides are feeblest runs from two to three knots. From this cause alone it was computed that Cavill would have to trace from 25 to 30 miles to cover the distance from point to point. The temperature of the water, too, is very low as compared with that in the English Channel, thermometric readings during the last three days of exceptionally hot weather ranging from 52 degrees, considerably below the average temperature in the Dover Straits at this time of the year.

To guard against the deadly chill from which he must otherwise have suffered, Cavill proposed to use a bathing dress of his own invention. It is made of India-rubber, and takes the form a short-sleeved, light-fitting guernsey, and bathing drawers. Under this is a warm woolen guernsey, and under this again a guernsey and drawers of thin muslin, plenteously anointed with Russian tallow to retain the natural heat of the body. Everything was in readiness on Tuesday evening when the little party accompanying Cavill put out from Sanda, in Mr. Ritchie's boat Isle of Sanda, which was to accompany the swimmer on his journey. Crossing the sound, the party encountered haze, the wind coming in puffs from the south-east. On making the mainland, it was deemed advisable, in consequence of the mist, to put into the little bay near the hamlet of Southend in preference to running along the coast to Deas Point. The lifeboat station there gave facilities for welcome rest for two hours, while the incoming tide would enable the party to reach the starting-point from the lifeboat house in half an hour. Before two o'clock in the morning, however, the weather had unmistakably changed for the worse. Warning spots of rain fell, and the wind was blowing half a gale from the southward.

The sea was coming in heavy rollers, and the boatman at once declared that it would be impossible to land Cavill at Deas Point through the broken water. He was greatly chagrined at this unforseen obstacle, but the experiences of the next two hours made it plain that a successful issue to the journey would be impossible under the circumstances. Smart showers came, with a freshening wind, and the appearance of the sky, as the day dawned in gloom confirmed the apprehensions that the weather had broken, and that the chances were dead against a start for the next few days, when the advent of stronger tides will form an almost insuperable bar to further attempts for three weeks or a month.

Anxious consultations were held in the course of the morning as to the likelihood of the weather moderating sufficiently as to allow of a trial by the afternoon tide, but it came dirtier every hour, and Cavill was at length compelled reluctantly to abandon for the present his self-imposed task. He was justified in this conclusion no less by the business engagements which prevented the presence of all but one or two of the gentlemen who had promised their countenance to the undertaking, and by the hopeless view of the weather taken by the party accompanying him to the coast, than by discouraging appearance of the elements. However, he proposes to fulfill some engagements in England which will occupy him for the next fortnight - notably, a projected swim round the Isle of Wight, and then, if practicable between Cantyre and Ireland. He returned to Glasgow on Wednesday, on his way to his home near Birmingham.


Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming 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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Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

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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.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

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