While the shores of Dover are crowded with channel aspirants from around the world, it was not always the case.
But swims out in the English Channel always have many untold stories.
James Tout recalls his successful crossing in 1987 after his friend Ashby Harper greased him up for a 10 hour 33 minute crossing.
“My Channel swim was a great moment in my life, but what happened on the way back to England is pretty cool too,” the Texan explained. “Reg Brickell, my boat captain, told me when I got on the boat that a Kiwi just did [a crossing] in under 8 hours. I said, ‘What?!?’
He replied, ‘And he’s on the way back.’ I shook my head and asked, “A double crossing?” He surprised me, ‘No, a triple.’
On the way back to England we crossed the path of the great Philip Rush as he was doing his famous triple crossing. I waved at Philip and he stopped for a second and waved back. I’ll never forget how fast his turnover was. His arms were moving as fast a butterflies wings.”
Tout was impressed then and he remains impressed after all these years. “I actually saw the great one doing it. It was like a baseball fan watching Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run. In our sport of marathon swimming not many people get to see it as it’s happening.”
From his side of the Channel, Rush recalled the chance encounter, “I remember the moment that the boat came past. We all had a great day on the Channel that day.”
Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association