Sturdy-lunged swimmers from twenty countries - 31 men, 7 women - limbered up at Butlin's Holiday Camp Margate, Kent, Thursday August 21, for Saturday's annual channel race.
Sturdy-lunged swimmers from twenty countries - 31 men, 7 women - limbered up at Butlin's Holiday Camp Margate, Kent, Thursday August 21, for Saturday's annual channel race. They will make a scheduled 1 a.m. plunge from the French side - from the beach of Cap Gris Nes, midway between Calais and Boulogne - and strike out for Dover, England. Distance: 22 miles as the proverbial crow flies. But they will have to cleave their course over more miles because of North Sea-bound currents.
First man and first woman to swim the fastest distance will receive GBP500 each - even if like last year they are unable to strike the opposite shore through bad conditions. Total prize money is GBP1,900 from the vast Billy Butlin Holiday Camp empire, the race organisers.
Britain is entering the largest numbers: eight men, two women, including 32 year old Ken Wray, last year's longest swimmer. The U.S. representatives are one mere male and Danish-born American housewife, Greta Anderson, 30, last year's winner, hauled from the water a half mile from Dover's shores after a 13 hour 53 minute struggle.
Some 40 motorboats with coaches, supporters, publicity and newsmen will chug in the wake of the heavily-greased swimmers. Coaches will pass down the bobbing swimmers hot coffee and energy tablets: a tricky operation on the swell for hands must not touch according to race rules governing disqualification.
The swimmers first will take advantage of the current by lashing out with it. Then off the Kentish shore they will have to sidestroke it. All things being equal - cramp, cold. seasickness included - the first should splash ashore at about 1 p.m.