Swimming the English Channel

Crossing the English Channel is an iconic challenge, right up there with Everest. A true measure of fitness, grit and resilience.  In Channelling, a band of courageous swimmers share their stories of how they transcend the ordinary and battle cold, distance, pain, and self-doubt to test their limits and redefine what is possible.

About the Book

Swimming from Ordinary to Extraordinary

Swimming the English Challenge is one of those few remaining iconic challenges. The swimmer pitches themselves against nature, ‘naked’, exposed to the vagaries of the cold, wind, wild seas, tides and currents. Technology has little to do with success: no fins, no aquadynamic wet suits - just costume, silicone cap and goggles.  Strength, physical condition and mental toughness are the hallmarks of our Channel swimmers.
Throughout these experiences we have noticed a metamorphosis, where ordinary people, most well beyond the prime of youth, emerge from the water stronger and better. Their lives have changed inextricably, and the Channel is part of their fibre. In discussions with swimmers, we have learnt that, while a swimmer can fail in their crossing attempt, they are never defeated. Their lives are indomitable, the human spirit is alive, and each of these people has gone on to achieve extraordinary things.
Meeting and interviewing these remarkable athletes has been a privilege. Each individual has the restlessness of the driven, and a fire burns bright inside them. Their stories ignite a spark, illuminate our own potential and challenge us to question the impossible. We are confident that at least one story will strike a chord in every reader. It is my hope that, when this chord is struck, you will be inspired to take on your own extraordinary challenge too.
About the Authors

Christopher Neesham

Christopher is a keen swimmer, who enjoys the freedom of swimming in the sea: ‘That immense body of water that triggers a private metamorphosis.’
Out of the water he is a coaching and performance psychologist, who has worked in Australia, Europe and the United States with executive teams, high-performance coaches and elite athletes. He has a keen interest in what motivates people, especially ‘you and I’ (non-elite) endurance athletes, to push themselves beyond normal limits to redefine what is possible.
He, too, has a passion for open-water swimming and has competed in open-water races in Australia and overseas, including Australia’s iconic Rottnest Channel swim. He also enjoys ‘frontier swimming’, swimming into the unknown, and has completed solo marathon swims in the Aegean, the Black Sea, the Arabian Sea and the South China Sea. He has swum with many of the swimmers featured in this book.

Tony Burke

Tony reveals all in the story of his Channel endeavour, which is expressed in a chapter of this book. It was a very brave effort.
Away from open-water swimming, Tony has done much in community sport, as a coach, as a team manager and on regional boards.
As a lawyer, Tony has made a significant contribution to the profession, culminating in 2008 in a term as President of Victoria’s Law Society, leading some 18,000 lawyers. Subsequently he served on various national bodies.
From 2009, for a period of five years, Tony was on the board of Triathlon Victoria, including three years as President.


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