Marathon Swimmers Forum
Channel Attempt Story
edited July 2012
Just reading about a failed EC attempt at
I would really hope my crew would pull me way before this... Anyone have a take on this? I really hope John is doing ok.
Assuming the facts in the blog entry are even somewhat close to what happened:
"I told John this and urged him to find the energy to push
hard for an hour, but, ominously, he did not seem to comprehend what I
was telling him. For the next 30 minutes his swimming was very slow
and laborious, and he got no closer to land."
Take him out of the water.
" I then decided to go in and swim with him for a while, hoping to pick up his spirits and pace him in to France. Once in the water, I swam to him and shouted at him
to summon all the energy he could and swim along with me, but he
didn’t really respond and seemed a bit unsure who I was or why I was
Take him out of the water
"I set out for shore, but John quickly fell behind so I went
back to him and tried to swim alongside him, but even with my slow
breaststroke he could not keep up (normally he swims much faster than
I do). "
Take him out of the water.
"Also, the swell was so big at this point that although I was
only ten or fifteen feet from him, I kept losing sight of him and had
to swim around to find him."
Get out of the water and take him with you.
"I did what I could under very difficult swimming conditions, but support swimmers are only permitted to be in the water for an hour at a time, so after an hour I was called back
onto the boat."
Get out, take him with you and throw into the water who ever told you to get out but allowed John to stay in.
"We were no closer to shore than we had been when I got
in. I watched John from the boat and by this time he had, after 14
hours in the water, for all intents and purposes, stopped swimming. He
was throwing his arms about, but he seemed disorientated and was being
tossed around in the water."
Please some one tell me why he wasn't taken out of the water?
The rest of it is so painful to read that I am simply left speechless.
"The skipper shouted to John to end the swim but John did not respond in any coherent way. He was making some strange sounds and trying to stay away from the boat. At this point he began vomiting in the water and shouting some weird noises and I realized that he was not simply tired and exhausted, but that the situation was far more serious. He was showing the classic symptoms of hypothermia. With the skipper still screaming at him to come to the boat, John began to go under the water. I confess that I thought he was going to die right there in the water in front of me. It was very distressing."
I just keep getting angrier and angrier the more I think about this. Our sport is not about swimming to your death, and your support team should understand this. And there was a doctor on board? Unbelievable.
Someone please tell me this story is really about someone whose boat sunk in the middle of the channel, and lived to talk about it when he was rescued by a passing ship moments before he went under for the final time. Please, someone tell me it's not true.
Please, can someone find the name of the boat captain? No one should ever, ever swim with that guy. I can understand the volunteer support crew being clueless, but the captain does this for a living.
AZ Open Water Swimming on Facebook
This has to be a hoax. This quote is from the blog entry right before the date of his swim:
"Well it looks like John will finally get his shot at the channel. Currently he is scheduled for take off at 2AM Friday morning, but there may be a problem. I have received a disturbing photo from England of the Skipper and his crew. Apparently they have little experience in channel crossings preferring to concentrate on 3 hour tours. Strangely the skipper was wearing a Lucky’s Lake Swim 200K club shirt most of the day. He was asked if he had really swam 200K and he said he must have because he had several of the shirts. Word has it the skipper has now left England and his crew will be doing the swim with John to guide him. If you want to follow John’s progress at 2am (then you way too much free time on your hands) log into his swim tracker on the web. Good Luck and may the currents and wind be headed for France."
Please someone tell me it's a hoax. PLEASE.
There is a SPOT track. It shows (to my untutored eye) pretty much the path described in the account: missing Cap Gris Nez, then being pushed back "upwind" of it.
I think the Channel pilots could identify the captain/person from the picture.
I'm fairly gullible.
Salt Lake City, UT
A few years ago I read this account from John Kearney's attempt. The thing that REALLY caught my attention (please tell me if I'm misunderstanding what is written), is that after being pulled from the water and while he was resting in the cabin below deck, on the way back to England, he was yelled at to wake up and come up on deck, when just as he came up, the support boat rammed a tanker that wasn't seen.
I have tried to confirm that part of the story, but have not been able to.
And here's the accompanying youtube:
I'm having a really hard time believing that part of it, or there would be more reports of the accident online.
I came across the same information about a year ago. I brought the subject up in an online forum. The only response was from a pilot (not the one alleged to be involved) who said that it was a subject best left alone.
As far as I can tell an incident did occur, but I am not certain of the circumstances surrounding it. Frankly, I am disturbed that there isn't more information about the nature and facts of the incident.
With regards to the first channel crossing above: if you look at most of the site which contains the story of Mr Collingswood's swim it is all written with tongue-in-cheek humor, complete with the picture of Gilligan and the Skipper as the pilot and crew. The story is heartfelt and appropriately serious in tone, but the fellow who writes the blog surrounding the story (which seems to be about his friend) has a similar tone throughout the site.
I would love for it to be a hoak, but:
As ViveBene pointed out:
(notice some of the same pictures)
Frankly, considering he was raising money for to raise money for Boys and Girls Clubs in the U.S and South Africa, it would be particularly in bad taste.
Looks like the post at the lake swim blog has been taken down...
The post's story appeared to be an e-mail from the crew member because I distinctly remember at the bottom the writer saying please do not disseminate this widely, just let people know he's OK. I imagine that a major reason the post is down now.
Regardless, very frightening in how some people just do not know how to watch their swimmers, do not know the signs of danger and let them go too far off the edge.
But nothing disappears on the internet! Here's the Google cache version:
I think all swimmers should support a full and open discussion of what happens in a swim, both the good and the bad. It is how you build a community and it helps others learn from both your successes and mistakes. When a swimmer almost dies there should be a full examination of what occurred on the swim so that those that follow do not find themselves in a similar position. I think the people who post to this forum do so to learn and teach others. We should expect that of all the members of the marathon swimming community.
Bob, I have been keeping track of (or trying to keep track of) injuries and deaths in the open water swimming world since 1999. However, a full and open discussion of what occurred is always a problem in these cases for several reasons: (1) respect for the family and/or their wishes, (2) legal matters, (3) linguistic issues, (4) bureaucratic obstacles, and (5) the impression from some of implied or actual finger-pointing. In fact, discussions on perhaps the most well-known open water tragedy in recent memory (i.e., the death of Fran Crippen) were muted despite the publicity surrounding this tragedy. FINA certainly was not forthcoming and, at least in my opinion, its response was less than comprehensive and appropriate. In fact, only one individual was ultimately disciplined for the Fran Crippen tragedy...and it was done quietly. That being said, there are a few organisations around the world that do an excellent job in follow-up from my observations (our British colleagues are one example as you can see from their post-tragedy follow-up and introspection). However, because of the 5 issues above, a full and open discussion of what happened in a tragedy is usually not conducted.
I apologize in advance for this plug, but this topic will be presented at the 2012 Global Open Water Swimming Conference. We will attempt to respectfully and publicly address the tragic deaths of over 20 individuals that have recently occurred in 7 countries around the world. These deaths occurred for a variety of reasons, but I am hopeful this discussion will be done respectfully and with the full intent of education. This presentation was originally scheduled to be given at the International Swimming Hall of Fame among a wide spectrum of aquatic professionals and administrators, but FINA nixed this presentation for political and legal reasons.
Huntington Beach, California, U.S.A.
This is a bit off-topic, but Steven, is Sri Chimnoy going to be posthumously honored at this event? Why? I'm surprised and shocked, to say the least, especially given the revelations about his dealings, manipulations, deceit, and alleged sexual abuse coming to light in recent years.
With regard to the reasons you suggest people may withhold information:
1) In the case of the death of a swimmer there should be a public inquiry. While the desires of the family are important, they are trumped by issues of safety for everyone. If I die crossing the EC, let this be a formal notice that I demand a public inquiry. In the event of near death, the same considerations and demand applies. (I hope this doesn't scare off my crew).
2) The legal matters which might arise might pertain to: a) administrative maritime hearings concerning the captains performance (I am completely unfamiliar with what processes might apply); b) criminal charges (I can not for the life of me imagine how this might come to be unless the death arises from a drunk pilot who sinks his boat); and c) the negligence of people which provides a basis for the recovery of damages. So in reality what we are looking at is a lawsuit for money, which in my opinion would be a difficult case given the facts and circumstances of the typical channel swim (I could discuss this one for hours). So should important information which could save the next swimmer's life be withheld for fear that it might stir up the legal money pot?
3) Honestly, I think linguistic issues are potentially an important hurdle and any information which comes from a translation of statements made, should be held to the highest scrutiny before circulation.
4) Bureaucratic obstacles are very real. The old boy/girl network does not die easily. This has been a problem in many other endeavors, but the fight to dissolve bureaucratic barriers should not be given up just because little or no progress has been achieved in the past.
5) Yes, actual or implied finger pointing is real and may occur. There is not much you can do about it, but if that were to stop investigations, we would never know why a plane fell out of the sky, a train derailed, an engine in a car caught fire, a person drowned on a public beach etc. The public's interest in preventing future harm should trump a person's fear of shame or embarrassment. I'm not saying this is not without pain, but if it could prevent the loss of one life, or prevent a near death experience and a week in the hospital, shouldn't the community demand it?
I was swimming once and woke up in hospital 4 hours later. The thing is, weak swimmers can give up and strong swimmers probably finish the swim before it gets serious. That leaves a whole bunch of us who are determined enough not to give up, and there is always enough strength for one more stroke. We are the ones capable of swimming ourselves to death, and we need looking after.