In 1875, Captain Matthew Webb became the first person to swim across the English Channel from Dover, England to Calais, France. Since then, fewer than 1500 people have accomplished the same feat. With a success rate of 50%, equal to Mt Everest summit attempts, just over 100 people successfully swam from point to point last year. This September, my uncle, Tom Bell, hopes to become one of them. A 19 nautical mile swim at its narrowest point, approximately 36km, in an unpredictable, frigid tide, that changes every 6hrs, could take upwards of 12hrs to complete in good conditions. Official sanctioning bodies limit swimmers to don nothing more than a speedo, cap and googles, as they brave the elements timed during seasonable high water temperatures in the 50s. 800 boats cross the channel daily, the world's busiest shipping channel. . With the help of an officially sanctioned boat captain, myself, and a crew of 3, Tom will wade into the water on an early morning the week of September 13, putting his faith in his team and his training.
For the past two years I have coached Tom remotely, sometimes joining him in open water training swims, races, and channel pacing. At 44yrs, he swims 6 days per week for 2hrs hours or more, covering an average of 35km weekly. Outside of the pool hes improved his strength and power with twice weekly strength and conditioning workouts. He's assessed and improved his VO2 Max - a powerful indicator of aerobic performance, has worked on his anaerobic threshold - critical for racing rapidly changing tides, has refined his mechanics and efficiency with countless hours of swimming drills, tailored by the help of the Functional Movement Screen, and honed and refined a specific nutrition strategy essential for fueling an exhausting and time sensitive 12 hour swim. In preparation, he s competed in the Little Red Lighthouse Hudson 10k in New York City - a 2+ hr swim up the Hudson River under the George Washington Bridge, participated in the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim twice - a temperamental 24 mile race in the deceptively beautiful Tampa Bay, and his biggest accomplishment to date, the 22 mile swim across the Catalina Channel in California. His completion of the English Channel will bring him one swim away from completing the Triple Crown of open water swimming - The English Channel, Catalina Channel, and Manhattan Island. A feat fewer than 100 people in the world have accomplished!
Tom is dedicating, and raising money with this swim, for the I AM ABLE Foundation. An organization supporting disabled individuals through fundraising, fitness opportunities, and motivation. Consider supporting him and the organization through this link: I AM ABLE