Updated 20th November 2011                                     

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Standard letter & information for 2012 onwards


Click on the above links to go direct to the listed section.

"English" Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation 

Below is a brief outlook of  the information for all new enquiries to get them 
started on their search for information reference swimming the English 
It is fairly comprehensive and gives you a starting point with most of the 
answers that someone seriously contemplating swimming the English Channel 
needs. There is also a lot more information within the web site pages on this site 
and in the archives on the 'Swimmers Chat site'.
The "Swimmers chat site" is a independent forum and "virtual club" 
used by swimmers and interested parties world wide as a way to communicate 
through. It is part of Goggle Groups setup with a comprehensive web site
offering an archive of past messages with  extensive search facilities.
If you would like to be invited please send the e-mail address with your request to
the CS&PF office.
The office e-mail link is ------------   secretary@cspf.co.uk
NOTE-  Please make sure any e-mails sent to the office have 
"Channel swimming" in the subject line 
(The team or persons  name or initials for identification would help). 
The office can have 100+ e-mails per day to sort through and a lot is Spam, 
anything not clearly mark might be eliminated by mistake.   
The CS&PF is a Governing body for English Channel swimming and is 
officially recognised by both the British and French authorities and Coastguards 
as such. 
We are a member of the ASA, (Amature Swimming Association) -  
CCPR (Central Council Physical Recreation)  and UK Sport. 
Our registration is as a Governing Body of English 
Channel Swimming. We have the same recognition with other sporting 
organisations worldwide. 
The CS&PF is now by far  the biggest organisation reference English 
Channel Swimming. Our office database holds a comprehensive list of all 
English Channel swims the have been ratified by a recognised organisation. 
It includes the latest list of the swimming records for all the ratified swim attempts 
since Captain Webb in August 1875.
The Federation is run by volunteers - not paid staff - to help swimmers realise 
their dreams of attempting to swim the English Channel. 
While we do our best to manage things efficiently, please remember that we
all have other work to do and full time businesses to run or jobs to go to. 
If the CS&PF were run on paid staff, with its own office premises and 
equipment the fees that we would have to charge to survive would have to be 
much higher and Channel swimming would become "out of reach" for the 
majority of its participants. 
 Please understand that Channel Swimming is both an “Extreme & Endurance”  
sport. Safety has to come first, second and third. 

There is a reason for the rules we work under and the paperwork we request 
to make your swim attempt as safe as possible. 

You have a "Duty of Care" to yourself and your team to be as 'best prepared' 
as possible and understand the task you are taking on. 
 If you need help and information setting up your swim, training or general 
advise the best way to get it; after reading through the web pages, is to 
become a member of the "swimmers chat site".  
That way you can ask questions, add your comments, and get a lot of help
 and advice from other swimmers and trainers. You can also find out if 
anyone local to you is training for a swim or has tried one. 
The "Chat site" is a free site that any open water swimmers and interested 
persons can join. It is not a CAS&PF only chat site. 

We are taking bookings for  2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016 plus. The pilots 
already have quite a few places reserved well in advance. 

You check the availability of CS&PF pilots and reserve places by going to the
pilots direct, the office does not always have an up to date list unfortunately.
(See the bottom of this page for Pilot information and their e-mail addresses).

Full  information for the pilots and their vessels is in the "ESCORT BOATS" link 
on this page. They can also be found on the other web sites associated with us. 
By going direct to the pilot you will find out first hand what is still available.  
You can reserve your place with them directly. 

Do not committ yourself to a pilot booking until you are sure you want to make an 
attempt. You will be signing a legally binding agreement and any monies paid are 
NON  REFUNDABLE. You usually have to pay a booking fee to confirm your place. 
This is non refundable and usually in adition to your swim deposit payment.

Once you have made your commitment, agreed terms and dates with the 
pilot and  paid the booking fee or deposit please let the office know so that you 
can be added to the swim lists.

Make sure you understand how the pilots work and what their terms of business 
are as laid out in their contracts. The pilot will advise you of their fees, payment 
methods and when the deposits need to be paid by. 

Your pilots swim contract is an agreement between you and the pilot - 
The pilots are all running the own businesses.
 The CS&PF recognise and register the pilots included on their list. 
It has no involvement in setting, arranging or collecting any pilots fees.

You should keep a copy of everything in a personal file for future reference.
Always keep a copy of the pilot contract and the CS&PF application plus medical.
The CS&PF registration and swim fees are a separate item to your pilots fees.

The office will send out the CS&PF paperwork to swimmers that are booked with a
pilot and who register with the CS&PF office. The pilot has to inform the office when 
the contracts and deposits are received.  
This paperwork is sent out at the end of December in the year before your swim 
booking for completion in the year of your swim.
This is usually by e-mail to the e-mail address you supply us with. 
The office keeps an e-mail trail for each swim.

All the CS&PF paperwork can only be completed in the year of your swim.


YOU MUST  complete the CS&PF APPLICATION  and MEDICAL forms and 
return them to the office as soon as possible.

CS&PF Application forms must be submitted by the 31st April

CS&PF medicals are required by mid May at the latest.

If you can not work within this time frame YOU MUST talk to the office well in 
advance to see what can be arranged.



We often get asked, "When is the best time to swim"? 
This is a complicated question to answer. 

The Channel Swimming season is usually from late June to the end of 
September/ beginning of October. ------ 

In June and early July the water is still warming up and can be anything 
around the 14°C to 16°C (58 to 61°F) mark - but the days are longer and 
the air temperature usually "warm". 
At the end of July beginning of August the water is warming up - around 
the 17°C (62°F) and the air temperature is still good but the weather can 
be unsettled. 
End of August and beginning of September the water should be about 
18°C to 19°C - but the days are getting shorter and the air temperature is 
often dropping to the 15°C 58°F mark. 
Mid to the end of September the water is often at its warmest but the days 
are short and the air temperature during daylight is often around the same
 as the water temperature or lower. The nights are cold.
A quick summery is that --- 
No time is a good time and you cannot predict  what is going to happen with
the weather much more than 5 days in advance, a couple of days often the limit.
This applies to any time of the year for the Channel.
Weather Forecasts can be obtained from many different sources on the internet.
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk    ----- Is the main one on which the pilots use. 
Most of the other sites are based on this Met office data. 
Everything can be scoured from this site but it can be technical and involved.  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather   ---  A simpler version of the above with lots of information. 
Gives you the shipping forecast - inshore waters forecast - Local forecast - 
coastal weather forecast (up to 12 miles out to sea) - 
the synopsis charts for both the British isles and the Atlantic (use Atlantic charts) - 
a 5 day perdition of local weather (not very often right). 
This site explains weather and has a lot of interesting reading in it's  articles.

Sandette lightship weather site - 
24 hour record of what is actually happening in the Channel. 
(With reference to the wave height readings - these are about ½ of the wave height.)

http://www.xcweather.co.uk   ---- A interesting site for weather around the UK and Europe. 
It is linked to the data buoys like the one above and gives you a five day prediction. 
This site is good to watch but is not very accurate for forecasting in advance.
It is a good example of how the "predictions" vary from the "actual" wind. 
It will help you realise the Channel is a very unpredictable and temperamental place.
Just -- "Hope for best and prepare/ expect the worst." – That’s Channel swimming.
NEAP TIDES                             TOP OF PAGE

Approximate Neap tides for 2012 are 
26th to 30th June
10th to 18th July
26th to 31st July
8th to 16th August
25th to 29th August
7th to 14th September
23rd to 27th September

Approximate Neap tides for 2013 are 
30th  June to 8th July
15th July  to 20th July
29th July to 6th August
14th August to 18th August
27th August 4th September
12th to 17th September
25th to 30th September

Approximate Neap tides for 2014 are:
June 20th to 26thJuly 
1st to 10thJuly 
19th to 27thAugust
 2nd to 8thAugust 
17th to 24thSeptember 
1st to 6th September 
15th to 22nd September
1st to 6th October
Swimming on the spring tides has become more popular over the past 
few years and is now a regular occurance. Let your pilot if you want to book 
on them. 
Spring tide swims are always more “weather critical” and need calmer
 weather conditions than the Neap tides. They do however appear more 
settled and swims are becoming a much more regular occurrence on them.
The official CS&PF web site is www.channelswimming.net  with our rules, 
pilot information and other information on it. 

There is a lot of swimming  information on  www.channelswimming.com 
This is Michael & Angela Oram's personal site. The information includes 
successful swim lists to 2000 (to be updated), pilot information and links etc.
There are many other sites full of information that are up and running -
 see the links on the chat site and web site pages. 
As mentioned at the top of the page - there is a "chat" site which we can 
invite you to (it is totally free but by invitation only), just let us know if 
you want to join.  You can use the chat site to ask questions, make 
connect with other swimmers and members and search the archives 
for information previously sent in reference the many questions that 
have been asked. The chat site web page has search facilities to help 
you find information in its vast collection of past e-mails and is easy to use. 
The pilots swim fees are usually set by them indevidually in of October the
 year before your swim season. 
This is because this is usually the earliest period when the pilots can assess 
their expenses for the coming year. 
As a guide, most of the pilot/escort boat fees for the 2012 season are 
being set at around £2400 to £2500 for  a 1-way crossing -  
The non-returnable booking fee and/or deposit secures your booking 
(booking fee about £250 -- deposit is usually around £1000).
You need to agree and sign your pilots contact and return the deposit to confirm
 your booking then notify the CS&PF of the pilot, date and e-mail contact. 

If you are booking for more than a season in advance there is a  
non-returnable reservation fee (about £250). This is credited as part of your swim fee.
Each pilot sets his/her own fees. These are between you and the pilot.
These are not controlled by the CS&PF in any way.  

We do hold the pilots booking lists in the office as of the end of November 
but they are not not always up to date.
We use these lists for correspondence information. You need to register with  
us as soon as your pilot reservation is confirmed. You pilot will also confirm 
your registration once you have sorted out contracts and deposits.


You need to contact the pilots directly for their up to date booking information.

Eddie Spelling --            esdrain@aol.com 
Mike & Lance Oram --   michael.oram@btinternet.com  use this e-mail for bookings -- 
Neil Streeter ----              suva@emma2france.com - for bookings 
Paul Foreman --              paul.r.foreman@googlemail.com

Chris Osmond --             seafarer@ntlworld.com
From June 2009 onwards the pilots decided that bookings that are more than 
12 months away will require at lest a  non-returnable £250 booking fee. 
This will be counted as part of the swim fee for the swim you book and paid
when you confirm you want to have a position reserved. 

Sorry but they have had to do this as so many swimmers are booking places
years in advance then dropping out the last moment. 

Places are at a premium and prime positions sought after years in advance. 
It is unfair to both the pilots and serious swimmers to book in advance 
and then decide not to swim - and then not tell the pilot of any change in 
Please remember that the pilot stands to loose the balance of any swim fee if 
you cancel at a late date  - (You are actually liable for this balance according to 
most pilots contracts once you have signed them). 
Make sure you are ready to commit before you sign the pilots contract and 
return it with the deposit. 

Deposits and fees paid are all NO RETURNABLE

Please keep the CS&PF and your pilot informed of any problems that may arise. 
Once you have sorted out your pilot's deposit and contract you should
contact the office so that they can add you to your pilots swim list. 
These lists are used to send out the CS&PF application and medical forms. 
They are sent out at the end of December in the year before your swim 
as the paperwork  has to be completed in the year of the swim 
 -- BEFORE THE 31st MAY --. (see earlier reference to closing dates)

The forms are updated yearly to keep in pace with new requirements and 
only the current forms for the year can be used. Old forms from prior years
 will not be accepted. 
Reference the pilot contracts. 

 All the pilots have slightly different systems for contract wording and payments. 

Check with your pilot as to their terms BEFORE you commit 
The booking fees and deposits are all non- returnable if you cancel 
after payment.   

Some pilots send out the pilot contracts at the end of 
October when they know the expenses and have set the fees. 
Some send out the contracts as they receive the bookings and confirm the 
fees later.
You - the swimmer - have until the end of December to confirm with the office 
that you have signed  the pilots contract and return it with your deposit if 
you have booked prior to this date. 
The deposit confirms your booking and is the reference used by the office 
to send out the CS&PF application and medical forms. 
The pilot has the right to re-book the place if deposits and contracts 
are not completed  and returned by their set date (usually mid December). 
Bookings after the 1st January have the CS&PF paperwork sent out once pilot
conformation and registration  is received.           
The office likes the CS&PF forms back as soon as possible with the CS&PF fees.
The CS&PF application form needs to be returned by the 31st APRIL at the latest.

The medical forms need to be with the office, at the latest, by middle of May and all 
paperwok has to be completed and registered by the 30st MAY
For your own peace of mind do it early so that you know where you stand. 
If it is not possible to meet these dates then you need to discuses alternatives
with us in the office.

In 2008 6 swims were cancelled by the office because paperwork was not 
completed - 
In 2009 7 swims were cancelled by the office because the paperwork was not 
completed -
In 2010 3 swims were cancelled by the office because the paperwork was not 
completed -

This was even after extensive chasing, within the set time frames and the then 
extended periods and further chasing after the deadlines.
The office decision is final in all these registration matters once the set dates 
have past.
The 6 hour swim for solo swimmers without ratified swim status can be 
done any time up from 18 months to 14 days before your swim tide. 

Try to do it well in advance - the prior season might be a good idea. 
You will then have all the winter to concentrate on improving and training. 

The 2 hour qualifying swim for relay team members is the same -  18 months 
before to 14 days before your swim tide starts . 

The CS&PF office needs conformation in writing from both the swimmer and
 who ever observers and ratifies either of the 6 and 2 hour swims.

The team learer of any relay swim is responsible for co-ordinating and 
collecting the proof of 2 hour swims which they have to send to the CS&PF 
office once they have ALL been completed by the team members.
These qualifying swims are to make sure swimmers are aware of the 
challenge they are taking up and to give them a taste of what to expect. 
They are short swims compared to the actual crossing and should become a 
distance that is often exceeded while training. 
DO NOT treat them as a training target for a successful swim.  

These qualifying swims and the other swims we accept are part of the CS&PF 
"Duty of Care" and awareness programme.
English Channel Swimming is an Extreme endurance Sport that can result 
in injury or even death. 
By telling us you have undergone the experience of completing  a qualifying 
swim  you are confirming you understand the risks involved and you accept 
the responsibility of assessing your abilities to make your attempt. 

Team leaders are undertaking this assessment for the relay swims they are 
organising. Please make sure everything is completed correctly and your 
assessments are rationalised and valid for the attempt you and / or your 
group are undertaking.
All qualifying swims have to be ratified in writing and sent to the CS&PF by the 
swimmer and the person who has observed while the swim took place. 



The usual system for booking priority is that pilots book 4 places per set 
of neap tides.
These are in order of  number 1 first then down to number 4.
This is the order in which the swimmers are "OFFERED A CHANCE TO SWIM".

The Swimmers abilities and wishes are all different and Channel swimming 
is very dependant on the weather so if the first swimmer in line is offered 
the chance to swim and says “No” the place will be offer to the next in 
line - and so on until someone accepts the offer or everyone has turned 
it down.
On the next good swim day we start with the 1st in line again offering the 
swim to the remaining swimmers in their priority. 
This system means that the number 1 person can choose the day they want
 to swim on but if they decline to swim other swimmers get the option offered 
to them on that tide.  
CHECH WITH YOUR PILOT for conformation as to the method he will be using 
when you are booking and arranging your swim as they can vary.  
The pilots swim  contract is made directly with the pilot you choose and 
is between you and the pilot. The pilots are financially independent and 
operate as businesses in their own rights. All the CS&PF pilots are qualified 
as required by the MCA to captain their vessels and they hold commercial 
endorsements on their qualifications. All the pilot vessels are commercially
certificated as required by law. They are registered with the British and 
French Coastguard's annually by the CS&PF.  
The full list of the CS&PF registration fees and swim fees are in the rules 
CS&PF RULES  link -- click here.

Make sure you understand them. 
If in any doubt ask for clarification. 
As an example of the CS&PF registration fees -
The 2011 CS&PF application and registration fees for a 1- way swim 
( solo and relay) are 
£120 solo -- £150 relay -- administration - plus - 
£120 swim fee - plus - 
membership of your choice – 
(The minimum full membership is £20  for 2 years).  
For relays you need at least 1 full member in the team - £20. 
Other team members can then be associate or full members.  
Associate membership is £15 per person. 
This made the total CS&PF fees for a --- 
Solo 1-way crossing  in 2011 about £260 -  
Including a standard 2 year full membership . 
The total CS&PF fees for a --- 
1-way 6 person relay in 2011 are about £365 
(The example is for 1 full member at £20 and 5 associate members at £15 each). 
The exact total depends on the memberships you and the team choose.         
A Guide to the successful booking procedure 
1.      Select the year and tidal period you want to book.
	       Check with the pilots to see which pilots have places free. 
         Confirm the reservation with the pilot for the tidal period you want. 
2.      The pilot will then hold the position (if it is available) for a short period  
         and e-mail you the booking request.  

3.      AGREE TREMS and confirm your acceptance of the position offered .
4.      The pilot will confirm the reservation and send you instructions and a 
         contract for the position.    
5.      Sign and return your pilots contract with your deposit or booking 
          fee to Finalise your booking.
 5.     Let the CS&PF office know you have everything sorted with the pilot 
         and your swim position is booked. 
6.      The pilot will also tell the office when the booking is finalised and 
         the contract and deposit has been received. 
Note the deadline for paying the pilots deposits or any deposit balance  
is usually 31st December in the year before you swim. 
This is the deadline - earlier payment will give you peace of mind and 
conformation of your booking. 
After the 1st January the pilots can re-book any places not confirmed with 
a signed contract and a full deposit. Should you cancel your place after 
you have confirmed and paid any fees these fees paid are non returnable. 
Make sure you are definitely prepared to commit yourself to booking the
 place before finalising it. Please note the pilots deposits are non
 returnable and required to confirm the place bookings. 
NOTE - When the office has conformation of your pilots booking we will 
then send you the CS&PF application and medical forms. 
These are sent out from the end of December in the year before you swim. 
Both these forms must be completed in the year of your swim.  
(That's after 1st January) and before the deadlines below.
1st MAY for application - MID MAY for medicals.
31st MAY for everything to be completed. 
Ratified 6 and 2 hour swims latest is 14 days before your swim tide period starts. 
If you have a problem with the deadlines talk to us - 
We can not guarantee to be able to solve your concerns but we will try. 
If we do not know of a problem we can not help. 
Applications and bookings made after the deadline can be  processed 
by the office but only by arrangement and we can not guarantee they 
will be completed in time for the swim. 
Talk to the office before committing to a booking with the pilot if you 
are making a late reservation.    
Please read the web sites - CS&PF rules - pilots escort contracts and the 
CS&PF forms fully and understand them before completing and signing 
them, they are binding and explain what you are committing to. 
Please keep a copy of all your paperwork.     
The main points are often repeated more than once above to try and make 
sure you know exactly what you are contemplating and how the system 

Anything else we can help with , let us know.    
Anything you need clarifying ask us as soon as possible.
We fit our CS&PF workload and replies around full time occupations.
We are volunteers not paid staff.