People are very gracious about listening to English Channel swimming stories; at least in my case, even the stories take fourteen hours and eighteen minutes to tell. The English Channel is a novelty, it is romantic, and it has a history. They ask about the cold, the dark, the waves, the jellyfish and the isolation.
Often, they ask about how it compares with climbing Mount Everest. I wouldn’t know, other than to say, “Mount Everest? Now, THAT’s crazy!” Truth be told, people summiting Everest outnumber English Channel swimmers by several multiples, and recent yearly totals have outnumbered them 10:1. That’s why I twisted around the title; the English Channel is not the Mount Everest of open water swimming, Mount Everest is the English Channel of mountain climbing.
Leave it to the marathon swimming world, then, to actually analyze the two experiences and compare them. It is pretty interesting, even if you don’t fully accept every one of the arguments (though it is hard to deny the “mere nakedness of the swimmer” part). One thing that I am pleased that the article points out is the importance of the Team. I don’t know much about putting together a team to climb Everest, but I know that I wouldn’t have made it to the starting beach (let alone the finishing beach) without the A Long Swim team on our Channel swim.
This is the link to the article, thanks to Steven Munatones of the Daily News of Open Water Swimming: http://dailynews.openwaterswimming.com/2013/04/mount-everest-vs-english-channel-which.html
After a really long winter, the air temperatures are supposed to hit 60 degrees in Chicago this weekend. We are hopeful that it will finally melt the ice off the lakes. We can’t wait to get outdoors to swim.
In the meantime, I will see you at the pool. I will report back.