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Monday, 18 April 2016

The Channel Swimming Manual

BOOK REVIEW – The Channel Swimming Manual by Geoff Cox

The world is full of resources for us as swimmers to peruse, worry over and glean information from: an endless supply of sometimes conflicting data which can send the head spinning and have you saving link after link on your computer with the promise to yourself that one day you will print it off and read it end to end.

For those starting out on their open water swimming journey it can be daunting to say the least. For those whose journey has begun or even for those looking to take on new adventures where do we turn to for information that we can take with us wherever we go, for information that we can digest easily and share with other. Practical knowledge comes from the doing, theoretical comes from the educational path of absorbing information and then from that information taking the parts that suit our requirements for the purpose in hand.

For those contemplating the English Channel it can be a minefield of information to process for such a monumental event. For some it’s the fulfilment of a lifetime’s ambition, for others a spur of the moment decision after years of open water swimming. Both socially and solo it’s an achievement to behold with dreams fulfilled and nightmares conquered.

Any number of social media pages are full to the brim with groups offering support and guidance but who do you turn to once your computer is switched off, when you are sat at home in awe of the task you have set yourself.

Geoff Cox, a former Major in the Parachute regiment, used to delivering specialized training, has compiled a comprehensive journal style book to aid and support those completing the channel. His task of writing was expertly aided by his wife and lifelong swimmer and successful channel swimmer Loretta Cox, who knowledge of training and completing epic swims is legendary and second to none. Written in plain English it is easy to follow and flows from one aspect of the channel to the other seamlessly over seventeen chapters, with pages left blank for you to make your own notes (and or ideas). At the rear of the book a ‘Lists and logs’ section takes you effortlessly through the logs you will need to complete to ensure that you have prepared the best you can for your epic journey (you know the saying ‘Poor planning leads to poor performance …well there are to other versions as I am sure you know!!!)

If you want a book that takes you by the hand, from start to finish of your channel journey then this is the book for you, but do not be expecting the hand you are holding not to be firm or gloved. This practical and detailed book is forthright, combining the technical data as well as practical experience that some will not have even thought of. Its approach is no nonsense, the chapter no-one wants to contemplate ‘If you do not succeed’ is frank and realistic in its attitude, after all not everyone that wants to do the channel goes on to complete it successfully. Reality is a hard pill to take but as the book states ‘Not succeeding, is not failing’. The book is honest in its approach to the task ahead and for those that don’t make it the writing goes on to tell you what could have occurred to make the crossing unsuccessful so lessons can be learned and fresh attempts made.

People are quick to detail their successes but for those brave enough to detail the failures these details can mean the difference to touching French soil to another and to those that do I credit them with being forthright enough to know what went wrong, how it went wrong and how to prevent it from recurring again. ‘Again’ I hear you exclaim…yes why not, after all the saying ‘If at first you don’t succeed…try, try again’ wasn’t invented to put us off.

The books’ comprehensive guide to the channel swim encompasses everything the swimmer will require to embark and complete their journey, from acclimatization, training and nutrition to the day of the swim and to make sure that you get it all right the rules and regulations (correct at time of writing) have been included to make sure that the swimmer does not fail on a minor technicality. From tracking your boat (for those of us supporters enthusiastic enough to stay up all night watching and sending messages of support) to the scary bits that none of us really want to think about, the hazards and hypothermia, it’s all in there.

The nutrition chapter is an eye opener, for those that think that swimming is all about eating cake, think again, the average calorie intake per swimmer for a 16 hour crossing is around 12800 calories….now that’s a lot of cake! You don’t need to be a nutritionist to comprehend the facts given in this section as its written in a language that can be digested (no pun intended!) by all and is a great guide and is in-depth enough to make you not only think about your intake but also the effect it can and will have on your body. Nobody wants to fail a swim due to getting their diet wrong on the day or even in the training months leading up to the swim.

Is the book just for channel swimmers – no, for any swimmer contemplating the channel it is a useful guide for those you have chosen to crew for you as well. The book states that more often or not we would like to have those trusted family and friends with us but once on the boat the pilot will ensure that you all know your roles and that you do not deviate from them. After all you are all there to enhance the success of the swim and to make it as seamless a transition as possible for the swimmer. How to behave on the boat so that one and all can get the best out of the trip is in there, space is limited at the best of times and the kit list is essential to minimizing clutter whilst maximizing the boats capacity. Get it right and you will find the trip across the waters easy, get it wrong and you will be left with a distressed, cold, wet swimmer in dire need of your attention while you scrabble around for the bits and pieces that should have been easily at hand to aid their rehabilitation to full control of their body and surrounding as well as their recovery back to full health.

The book is a work in progress…what do you mean I hear you say, well like any book that is filled with information and advice it is flexible in its approach and its author is receptive to new or updated information being given so that over time the guide remains as up-to-date as it can so feel free to contact them to give updates, personal experiences that you feel have not been included so that the book can progress just in the same way that swimming does.

Now you are intrigued enough to want to know more, where can you get the book from?  - 

Postage free in uk £29.99 payable to PayPal through then we need a delivery address once paid or Tel 07412005430 you can even facebook Loretta direct via facebook messenger !!!!

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