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Swimming the English Channel 1982 to 2012

The peak and pond, a term used to describe the completion of two major feats – reaching the summit of Mt. Everest and swimming the English Channel, is a rare feat accomplished by only three people in history. The two feats involved are dangerous in nature and are two of the greatest tests of human endurance. It pits challengers against the dangers of the environment and finishing them is nowhere close to being a walk in the park.

At present, the swimming caliber of an individual can be measured by completing a feat that many people fail to succeed in: swimming the English Channel. At present, only about 1,200 people have succeeded in crossing the channel since the first crossing done 130 years ago. This only accounts to 10% of the people that attempted the crossing. With the shortest distance at 22 miles, the cold water and the strong currents prove too much for many swimmers.

The difficulty in swimming the English Channel is obvious if its history is reviewed. Matthew Webb, the first man to cross the channel did not succeed on his first try. He finally completed the swim in 21 hours and 45 minutes. The second person to succeed in crossing the English Channel, Thomas William Burgess, only did so after 15 unsuccessful attempts. Overall, he had 80 unsuccessful trials in his lifetime.

Incidentally, it also caught the attention of many Canadians who also took up the challenge. Unfortunately, not all were successful. The following is a list of some successful Canadian swimmers who swam the channel from 1982 to the present day.

Cynthia Nicholas completed a relay crossing twice in 1982. She finished the relay crossing in 18 hours and 55 minutes on August 28, 1982 and 20 hours and 9 minutes in September 13, 1982. Nathalie Patenaude completed the crossing on August 18, 1987 at 9 hours and 56 minutes. John Cormier finished the swim in 11 hours and 40 minutes on August 6 1988. Vicki Keith finished a relay crossing at 23 hours and 33 minutes on July 10, 1989. Vincent Pogacher finished his crossing at 15 hours and 50 minutes on July 27, 1989. David Frank and Barbara McNeil did the same in 11 hours and 22 minutes and 17 hours and 10 minutes respectively on August 24 1989. Kim Middleton finished her crossing at 16 hours and 33 minutes on September 7, 1989 while Brent Hobbs did the same on June 29, 2008 with a swim time of 10 hours and 43 minutes.

Canadians who swim the English Channel complete the first part of the Peak and Pond. The second part of the challenge is to climb the summit of Mt. Everest. Come May of 2011, another Canadian will make history by scaling Mount Everest after swimming the English Channel successfully. After having been proclaimed the 18th Canadian to successfully cross the English Channel by swimming, Bill Borger of Calgary, is all geared up to prepare for his ascent on the highest mountain in the world on May 2011.

If you want to read more about climbing Mount Everest, check out our other page about extreme Fitness Training.

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