Alex Chantler-Mayne in Youngest Team Ever to Swim the English Channel

On Friday 3rd September 2010 at 1pm, a team of six 12 year-old boys set out from Dover with the aim of swimming the 21 mile stretch of sea to France.  Working in relay formation an hour each at a time, they became the youngest team ever to swim across the English Channel.  Selection for BEST (Bristol English – channel Swim Team) started in 2008. Over 40 hopefuls applied and on 1st January 2010 after several training sessions the final squad of 8 including 2 reserves was announced. The team trained together for 8 months and also underwent several challenges to ensure they were capable and ready for the challenge of swimming across the channel. Each had to raise at least £500 each to support their training and to donate to charity. On 7th August 2010 the final relay team of 6 swimmers was announced which included Dolphin’s Alex Chantler-Mayne. The 6 swimmers had several challenges to contend with during their swim. Wetsuits could not be worn, only regular swim suits, hats and goggles.  A sailing boat came dangerously close to Alex during his first swim and although he had some protection from the pilot boat alongside, touching the boat would have meant disqualification for the team.  Liners and other large ships had to be diverted by ever watchful coastguards.  Other swimmers had to endure swimming through shoals of fish, across sandbanks in very choppy water and at some point all had to swim at night wearing only lightsticks to enable them to be seen.  Fortunately, none of the team encountered floating debris of the unsavoury kind!

After thirteen and a half hours of team swimming, Alex (pictured centre front above), on his third swim, stepped foot onto French soil at 2:35am. This marked the end of the swim and meant the team were now the youngest team ever to swim across the channel. The previous record was set exactly 42 years ago, on 4th September 1968 by six 12 year old boys from Tunbridge Wells. For more details on the project and the swim, please visit www.bestswim.co.uk

Other links on this article,

British Swimming

Bristol Evening Post

BEST Interview from BBC Points West


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