Channel Swimming Association versus Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CS & PF)

nvr2latenvr2late Member
edited April 2012 in General Discussion
I have been researching al things English Channel Swimming, and am an aspirant. I understand that the Channel Swimming Association has been in existence since 1927, and I have received the official packet from the Channel Secretary. I am also reading more about the more recently formed CS&PF. Can anyone enlighten me on the differences in the 2 organizations, and what association an aspirant should lean toward? Thank you.


  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    IMHO it is more important to find a pilot you like.
    I think there are more persons associated with the CS&PF who are actively involved in helping aspirants achieve their goals. They maintain a presence at Dover Harbor for swimmers training and also have a very informative (if you are willing to search through the archives) forum.
    The CS&PF also keeps records for swims completed by both organizations... the CSA does not. The claim is (I believe) that they can't verify that CS&PF swims were done according to Channel Rules... which is a crock.
    I think you can guess which way I lean......

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • @david_barra - I agree that my number one priority would be to hire pilot that I feel will provide me with the greatest chance for a successful swim. IMHO it appears that this is a case of The Establishment vs. The New Kid on the Block. I am contacting pilots from both Associations and hope to procure a reasonably favorable slot for 2014. Thanks for your input.
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    BTW: did a relay in '09 w/ Mike Oram, and a solo in '10 with Paul Foreman. I would happily work with either of them again.

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • SharkoSharko Sonoma County, CAMember
    Before the two one (organization that is) and it was Reg Brickell and Mike Oram...but if they got you there then you gotta give them two fins up!!! booking can be difficult and to be in the #1 position is always preferable with the crazy English weather....sometimes you can sit for a whole window and never swim it!!!

    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • Personally, I've always found it a little mean-spirited that the CSA doesn't recognise CS&PF swims, and this was one of the main reasons I ended up swimming with the CS&PF. But I know plenty of people who've had great swims with both organisations, and whose pilots have really pulled out all the stops to get them across. My impression is that there is an easing of hostilities between the two organisations (and certainly a lot of good will for that to happen from some, but not all, involved), but most of it is interpersonal politics rather than a substantively different "service" or experience. When I was choosing, I set quite a lot of store by how well / quickly the pilots communicated key information, since this seemed like it might be important later on when waiting to swim (and it was). But the important thing is to get it booked with a decent slot, and then go swimming.
  • I am planning on a 2014 swim and have contacted all pilots on both organizations. I will hopefully get a decent slot as I know that it is always possible to make the trip and not swim. Any persons out there with ideas of how likely that will be? Pilots have been slow to respond.

    Thanks to those who have commented on the Associations. It is giving me insight as an American outsider.
  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member
    The rule of thumb I was told when I was making my decisions is that in July the weather is usually calmer, but the water is colder. In August and September, the weather is a little goofier, but the water is warmer. It's like picking your posion. I know #4s who went in the first week and know #1s who didn't get to go at all. It really is a little bit of the luck of the draw, I think. That being said, I booked in mid-July 2012, knowing I can stomach cold water and am hoping for good weather! My pilot is with CS&PF, Eddie Spelling. He's been pretty communicative and helpful. I know a few people who have had successful crossings with him, and have heard good things, but I can't confirm until he actually helps get me across!

    Good luck!
  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaMember
    edited April 2012
    KarenT said:

    When I was choosing, I set quite a lot of store by how well / quickly the pilots communicated key information, since this seemed like it might be important later on when waiting to swim.

  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaMember
    I agree with Karen completely. I experienced varying levels of "attention" to communication when contacting pilots for the 2013 season. I ended up with a pilot from CSA that I'm very comfortable with and who I'm placing a lot of confidence in. There are clearly great pilots on both sides of the political fence but what it boils down to is how comfortable you are with your pilot.
  • @ssthomas, good luck! Your time will be here so soon - that must be a very exciting feeling to have a date booked! I have emailed all pilots, yours included - some have responded but others haven't = where are you staying in Dover?
  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member
    @nvr2late- I'm staying at a B&B called the Hubert House. It came recommended by a few who have been in Dover before. The owner, Peter, has been awesome.

    Good luck in your search! It's just as exciting to make the plans as it is to have the plans. :-)
  • KNicholas - have you successfully booked for 2013?
  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaMember
    edited April 2012
    Yes - nvr2late. Picked the date (late July - early August) and CSA pilot. Selected first position. Signed and emaild the contract. Wired a deposit (little confusion with the dollars to pounds conversion but overcame that obstacle). I can't tell you how much it motivates me daily at practice and I think about it more often than I should - but all good thoughts.
  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Charter Member

    I think about it more often than I should - but all good thoughts.

    ALL good thoughts? That there is some mental toughness.
  • @KNicholas - What a great feeling that must be! Congratulations!
  • I second what said above by David and Karen. The Pilot and your crew will be the most important complements for good training to succeed in the crossing. I would therefore go with the association the pilot you choose is affiliated with. I concur that CS&PF is much more 'present' through its members, supporting and advising in all possible manners, and would certainly recommend it over CSA other things being equal. But first comes the pilot. CS&PF members are always available and give generously to all those preparing for the EC or another big swim, so you won't be cut off their wealth of knowledge if you sign up with CSA. CS&PF and CSA are the only bodies recognized and authorized by French and English coastguard to obverve and ratify crossings.
    Happy swimming
  • bobswimsbobswims OregonCharter Member
    I had the same questions you have when I started my research a couple of years ago. There were 2 considerations for me in booking my #1 position late August of 2013 with Reg Brickel of CSA. First, I picked CSA because I still have a letter from them responding for an information packet dated January 1983. Second was that when I spoke to people 2 names kept coming up: Reg & Oram, with most of the people I know going with Reg. Finally, I concluded that it's much to do about nothing.
  • @KNicholas - who will be your support crew for your Channel Swim? Friends, family?
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Charter Member
    @nvr2late - I recommend Eric Hartley (Pathfinder Charter - CSA) He was very nice, loves the USA (particularly Orlando, FL) and was quite helpful with information when we arrived... Just throwing it out there!
    As far as which organization is more helpful/better, I would just reiterate @david_barra in that it is most important to find a competant and helpful pilot! I went in July, and it was about 57-58 degrees, and I found was a great experience (the sunny day helped!) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaMember
    Nvr2late: I chose Stuart Gleeson (Sea Leopard) from the CSA. He was very prompt in responding to all of my questions, his boat appears to be in good shape, he posts on his website the various swimmers he assists year round and comments from others about his performance were reassuring to me. My wife will be on the boat and the possibility of two other close friends along with Gleeson's crew and an official observer. As I understand it, I'll feed from a boat and not a kayak like I did for Catalina. Another distinction will be that I don't intend on having pace swimmers.
  • @KNicholas - I have secured a first slot with Pete Reed for the July 27 - Aug 2 2013 tide. Sounds like we may be there at the same time ~
  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaMember
    @nvr2late - that's great news. Good to book the trip isnt it! What swims are you doing this summer? I have a couple back east so maybe we'll swim before then.
  • Yes! It is fantastic to have arrangements fall into place - I had not planned to go this year, was thinking 2014, did not think that I was ready, but I was offered a good slot and decided that I had to take - I will be staying at Varne Ridge for 2 weeks around the 21 july - 4th august, my tide is July 27 - aug 2. This summer I am doing several Masters swims - Lake Audubon in Reston, (Northern Va., DC area), Memorial Day Weekend 2 days of lake swimming; Chesapeake Bay June 10th, Chris Greene Lake Cable swim in Charlottesville July 14th, Smith Mountain Lake 5K in September, Masters Open water Championships 10 mile swim, Minneapolis - July I think - I live in Lynchburg Virginia, Central Virginia - one hour from Charlottesville, and 3 hours from DC.
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