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Approximately 18.6 nautical miles / 21.5 miles / 35 km
The current record is 9 hours, 34 minutes, but a one way swim can take anything from 10 to 18 hours. Relay swims take around 10 to 15 hours.
The temperature of the North Channel can range from 10-14 degrees Celcius during the swimming season, with the warmer temperatures usually in August.
The North Channel has blooms of Lions Mane Jellyfish, which will be hard to avoid! On sunny days they tend to be deeper in the water. The water is too cold for sharks!
From Northern Ireland, swims start from Donaghadee, South of Belfast Lough and finish near Portpatrick. From Scotland, swims start near Portpatrick and finish near Donaghadee.
Widely regarded as one of the hardest sea swims in the world, this unique demanding swim is peppered with unusual swiming conditions, changeable weather, jellyfish and a low temperature. This ultimate long distance challenge has eluded many swimmers. This is why we have tough qualifying swims, so people do not undertake this endeavour lightly.
The ultimate open water swimming challenge, encountering warm and cold seas, long distances, and unpredictable tides.
  1. the North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland
  2. the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand/li>
  3. the Moloka’i Channel between O’ahu and Moloka’i Islands in Hawaii
  4. the English Channel between England and France
  5. theCatalina Channel in Southern California
  6. the Tsugaru Channel between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan
  7. the Strait of Gibraltar between Europe and Africa.
Applications open at the beginning of February each year for that season, with a closing date of 1 May. You can apply at anytime during this period. You will need to:

  1. Book your pilot
  2. Check what fees are payable on web site and pay fees via ILDSA Shop
  3. Ensure you also become a member of the ILDSA as associate member (minimum)
  4. Submit your required evidence and medical form
Observers are independent, appointed by the ILDSA, to ensure swimmers abide by the rules for their attempt. They are not there to advise swimmers, or act as crew. On completion of your attempt, they will submit an Observers Recording Form to the ILDSA to ratify your success, or to keep as research information. You will receive a copy of the Report soon after your swim.
The pilot is able to nominate an alternative person to Observe your attempt, and will advise on the information required to ratify a successful swim.
Once observers report has been reviewed by the ILDSA and the swim ratified, we will be delighted to present you with a commerorative medal and certificate celebrating your success. If you are able to come to our Annual Awards Evening, you can receive it there in front of appreciative peers. If you are unable to attend we will arrange delivery to your home. We will also add your successful swim onto our record books, available through www.northchannel.info.
We will not publish any personal information about unsuccessful attempts. Despite not finishing, you will still have achieved what most people could only dream of. Observers Fees are still payable regardless if you swim for 1 hour or 10 hours.
If the swim doesn't happen because of the weather, or other unforeseen events, you will be able to claim a refund for Observers Fees only, as long as Observer were not called. This must be done by the end of November each year.No administration or membership fees are refundable.
No, the administrative burden is the same regardless if you swim or not each year. Observer Fees can be refunded if Observers are not called and can be done online by the end of November each year.
The purpose of the medical is to really make people think about the seriousness of such a physical feat, and for a Doctor to assess any potential problem areas.
You should bring a crew of at least one person with you, responsible for your feeds and well being. Cheerleaders are less use than crew who understands the physical demands of such an endurance feat. Talk to your pilot about how many people you can bring. Make sure they are well prepared with your nutrition needs and schedule, know how to pass you a feed (this will take practice - the first time should not be in the North Channel! They should also have good sea legs!
YES! The ILDSA is ratifying your attempt, not managing it, and can accept no responsibility for any damage, injury or costs associated with your attempt. We suggest you invest in a comprehensive Sport, Accident and Life cover.
You will have an early start time from your pilot, where you will gather with your crew and meet your allocated Observer - wrap up warmly on the boat, as your starting point is about 10 minutes away. The pilot and Observer will tell you where your starting point (according to the rules) is. A stop watch will be started as soon as you leave the starting point. Then it is up to you to swim! Your pilot will return you to the starting point on completion of your attempt.