English Channel, also called The Channel, French La Manche,  narrow arm of the Atlantic Ocean separating the southern coast of England from the northern coast of France and tapering eastward to its junction with the North Sea at the Strait of Dover(French: Pas de Calais). With an area of some 29,000 square miles (75,000 square kilometres), it is the smallest of the shallow seas covering the continental shelf of Europe. From its mouth in the North Atlantic Ocean—an arbitrary limit marked by a line between the Scilly Isles and the Isle of Ushant—its width gradually narrows from 112 miles (180 kilometres) to a minimum of 21 miles, while its average depth decreases from 400 to 150 feet (120 to 45 metres). Although the English Channel is a feature of notable scientific interest, especially in regard to tidal movements, its location has given it immense significance over the centuries, as both a route and a barrier during the peopling of Britain and the emergence of the nation-states of modern Europe. The current English name (in general use since the early 18th century) probably derives from the designation “canal” in Dutch sea atlases of the late 16th century. Earlier names had included Oceanus Britannicus and the British Sea, and the French have regularly used La Manche (in reference to the sleevelike coastal outline) since the early 17th century.

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“Father’s & Son’s Quartet” English Channel Relay swim 2013

After 16 months of hard training in the pool and Dover harbour in all weathers and conditions, the world’s first “Father’s & Son’s Quartet” relay team was ready to take on the challenge of the English Channel.

On the 5th September 2013 at 07:47, the “Father’s & Son’s Quartet” team entered the water on a spring tide from Shakespeare beach (Dover), to start their 19 nautical mile swim to France. Each swimmer, Bradley Harvey, Lee Wakeham, Jason Harvey and Jake Wakeham will swim one hour each in the same rotation until one of the swimmers is able to clear the water either on a beach or by climbing over rocks onto French land.

The tide will ebb taking the swimmer in a South Westerly direction down the channel until 10:00 when there will be approximately 30 minutes of slack tide and a chance to make good head way towards France before being taken back up the channel in a North Easterly direction on the flood tide for 5.5 hours when there will be another 30 minutes of slack water when the tide will ebb again for the full 6.5 hours. This cycle of tides, which can run as fast as 4.6 miles per hour and with the team average swim speed of 2.5 miles per hour will prove to provide a very challenging swim that will take the team up and down the 

English Channel, parallel to the coast lines and allowing very slow forward progress across both SW and NE shipping lanes that have plenty of traffic to navigate.

We were expecting brilliant sunshine with temperatures of up to 27 degrees, a wind force 2 and a sea temperature of 18.5 degrees, which were perfect conditions. The sea state was almost flat and for the first 11 hours the team enjoyed almost perfect swim conditions, although spirits and moral were now seriously plummeting due to the strong spring tide preventing any substantial progress after three very strong and fast swims by all. France was still approximately 6 miles away as we left the North East shipping lane and entered the French inshore waters when out of nowhere a South Easterly breeze blew a low fog up the channel blocking out the setting sun, reducing our visibility and now preventing us from seeing the French coast. Darkness fell and the team now had to swim in the dark and with no perception of distance to land. After 2 more hours of darkness and low spirits, the fog blew through to unveil the most welcome, uplifting light of Cap Griz Nez light house. This massive light and the twinkling lights stretching down the French coast gave a massive lift to team spirits and well earned relief now it was obvious that victory was in reach.

At 21:34 and after 13 hours 47 minutes of swimming, Father’s & Son’s Quartet team successfully completed their swim and finished on the rocks directly under the light house of Cap Griz Nez (the closest point to England).


Lee & Jake Wakeham have raised over £800 for Cystic Fibrosis

Jason & Bradley Harvey have raised over £800 for Kent Air Ambulance


Video Father & Son's quartet English Channel Relay swim 2013