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Sunrise at Dover, England as Trent Grimsey begins his English Channel world record swim.
Ralph Teller

Trent Grimsey sets World Record English Channel Solo Swim!

Ralph Teller

September 8, 2012

Young, gutsy Trent Grimsey of Brisbane, Australia set a new world record time of 6:55 hours for a solo English Channel swim. Trent broke the record previously set by Petar Stoychev of Bulgaria who crossed the channel in 2007 in 6:57 hours. The first English Channel swim was made by Matthew Webb in 1875 in 21:45 hours.

See Trent's GPS tracked actual swim path at Spot.

It seems Grimsey's confidence and fire to set an English Channel new solo swim world record burned in the young man after he broke the 30-year-old record of the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy in June of this year. To help train for his record English Channel swim he raced in several international distance swim races. In the process, Grimsey won the 2012 FINA Grand Prix Open Water Series (all races in excess of 10K). Trent is a member of the Australian National Open Water Swimming Team and one of the best open water swimmers in the world.

During the swim, Trent was feeding every 20 minutes and his crew was constantly communicating with him via a white board and pen. After the first hour he was 3 minutes under the record. At his point, we felt very comfortable and decided to pick up the pace. When Trent took his 3 hour feed his crew let me know he was now 7 minutes under the record! At the 4 hour 30 minute mark Trent still had 7 minutes up on the record. It was about this point though where he started to fall apart. After 5 hours he was struggling mentally and physically was starting to really hurt. He became annoyed and distracted at every little thing and could feel himself slowing down.

Trent had been swimming as fast as he could for 5 hours but now had lost it mentally. However, there were two things that happened around the same time that helped him through this hole. First his crew had let him know Petar Stoychev was on the phone with his pilot Mike to check how Trent was doing. The second thing that lifted his spirits was when his crew held up a sign letting him know he had only 4.4kms left to swim in under one hour ten minutes if I still wanted the record. The next sign posted read 2.7kms to swim in under 44 minutes. With about 35 minutes left to swim I asked Damian, his support swimmer, to swim with him in to shore. Just after Damian jumped in the next sign to Trent read 1500m to swim in 30 minutes. He was in a world of pain by this stage. His stroke had gone out the back door.The next sign said 500m to swim in under 10 minutes. Trent knew then the record would be his. As he got to about 10 meters from the French coast, he began to started lift head to look for a good rock to climb up on. The clock doesn't stop until the swimmer is standing up on both feet stably.

Harley Connolly of Australia acted as Grimsey's feeder and coach on this English Channel feat, while Argentina's Damian Blaum was his support swimmer, helping Trent keep pace. Mike Oram was Trent's pilot who navigated an ideal course.

The English Channel swim is one of the toughest swim events in the world. The distance between England and France is appoximately 33 kilometers (21 miles). The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Stinging jellyfish can be abundant. Waves can reach 2 meters (6 feet) and tides can be brutal. The is a real risk of hypothermia as summer water temperatures remain around 15C (60F).

Unique about an official English Channel swim are the tough rules established by the Channel Swimming Association. No person in an attempt to swim the Channel shall use or be assisted by an artificial aid of any kind, but is permitted to grease the body before a swim, use goggles, wear one cap, nose clip, ear plugs and one costume. The permitted swimsuit shall be of a material not offering thermal protection or buoyancy and shall be sleeveless and legless.

See Trent Grimsey's Blog!

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