Sea Swimming

Swimming in the Sea Since 1860. 

Everyone is welcome to browse this site but please be aware that the information is primarily intended for club members and does not imply an invitation by Brighton Swimming Club for any NON-MEMBER to swim with us in the sea.

How to Join

Arch membership has now closed for the duration of the winter months, and will resume on the 1st April 2017.
Please contact:- Dan McCarthy
E-mail:- bscarchcommittee@gmail.com
Download a membership form and next of kin form

The Club's Arch premises are at 250E, King's Road Arches, on the seafront, about 80 metres west of the Brighton (Palace) Pier opposite Albion Beach. This is used by our sea swimmers for changing and showering. Club members who use the arch on a regular basis pay A premium membership which includes cost of electricity, water and routine maintenance of the arch. Arch members are full members of the Club in every other respect. An application form can be downloaded from this website and given, with appropriate fee, to the sea swimming secretary or sub-committee.

The Beach

The beach at Brighton consists of a sloping shingle bank, with a level area of sand exposed or covered with shallow water at low-tide. At high tide, the sea can be deep just a couple of metres offshore. Photo is of BSC arch member Bob Phipps coming up a snow covered beach after his regular morning swim.

The Lawrence Roundabout Well Appeal

In 2007, Angus Macfadyen couldn't swim a width of front crawl in a swimming pool, yet in the last week of August 2010 he completed a solo crossing of the English Channel.
Prior to the start he stated that "My biggest fear is not coping the freezing waters; I'm getting used to that, nor managing the great distance of over 20 miles... it's the thought of receiving multiple stings by jelly fish!"
Angus trained for over seventeen hours, swimming over thirty miles each week. He ate like a horse, putting on weight to cope with the prolonged cold of this most challenging of open water swims.
"I am fund raising to bring fresh water to people in South Africa, by supporting the Lawrence Roundabout Well Appeal" - set up by Virginia Prifti, who lost her son Lawrence to the rare disease Adrenoleukodystrophy in 2005. " ₤7000 buys a play pump, the ingenious device that whilst harnessing the energy of children playing from a deep well,  pumps water up into a collection tank. The community gets a 10 year fresh water supply and the children a focus for play, just brilliant!"
Follow the last month of Angus' journey, log onto http://www.channelangus.co.uk you can still help the appeal there too...just follow the link!

Channel Relay

At 1.30am on Monday 7th Sept 2009, Club members Andy White and Mike Harvey, together with two colleagues from 'oop North', started a four person Channel relay attempt from Shakespeare Cliffs, Dover. The planning had taken many months and this was their final opportunity this year. The darkness and choppy wave conditions made the initial relay legs unpleasant for swimming. Mike says it was 'grim, disorientating, dark, scary and rough, but he was kept going with thoughts of what John Ottaway's comments would be if he stopped'. When the sun came up conditions changed in their favour and swimming became great fun. When they were three miles from the French coast the tide turned against them and they were unable to make progress for several hours. Andy and Mike swam the final two legs, and Mike eventually arrived on the beach near Wissant. The whole swim had taken 13 hours and 32 mins. Photo shows Mike and Andy's joy. Nice to see they wore Club hats.

Oldest British woman ever to have completed a solo Channel

After several disappointments due to poor weather conditions, Club member Fiona Southwell finally started her solo Channel swim attempt (England - France) from Dover at 7.13am on Tuesday, 18th August, 2009. Mark Shepherd, her coach/trainer reports that the forecast was for fine weather with a beautiful flat sea all the way, with winds no more than 5mph. Forecast got it wrong. About half way, cross winds were gusting up to 20mph and Fiona had to swim for many hours in a roughish sea until darkness when the sea settled again. When she was two miles from French coast the turning tide meant she was forced to 'sit it out' for six hours going nowhere. She finally came ashore adjacent to Calais harbour where a French cross-Channel ferry captain kindly held up his boat's departure for her. Fiona had been swimming for just under 20 hours. Five other solo swimmers also attempted that day but Fiona was the only one to make it. At 51 years, she was the oldest British woman ever to have completed a solo Channel swim. You are fantastic Fiona, your BSC swimming friends all think you are an absolute marvel. Photo shows Fiona at the arch just four days later with her appropriately decorated celebration cake

Channel Swim

On 31st July, 2009, Club member Brad Andersen completed a successful solo swim of the English Channel, England to France, in the very fast time of 10 hours 34 minutes. Photo shows Brad, (in swim cap), having just completed the swim, together with his wife Penny and Dad Norm. In foreground is another Club member John Coningham-Rolls, who has also made a successful solo crossing. Many congratulations to Brad who spent many hours training in sea at Brighton and fuelling up with jam doughnuts.

Brighton SC Duo Set New Records

On 9th July, 2009, Tom Hudson and Simon Murie of Brighton SC swam from Europe to Africa. More specifically they swam the Gibraltar Strait from Tarifa (Spain) to Morocco, about 10 miles. Both of them are successful solo Channel swimmers but this swim, although shorter, presented its own challenges. The weather is notoriously changeable and can become very windy. After waiting a few days for a good weather window, they set off covered in plenty of Factor 50 suncream to protect from the 38C. air temp, although the Atlantic sea temp was only about 16C 
As with the Channel, there are many large ferries and container ships to avoid. The choppy sea was made much choppier for the swimmers by the wake of these vessels.
Two hours into the swim, and making good progress, their support boat pilot started shouting and pointing frantically. Tom and Simon looked to their right and through the clear water saw a group of five Pilot whales approaching. Wow. The whales were docile and circled Tom and Simon a couple of times. Tom says it was a wonderful moment and he could have reached out and touched one. Then they dived and swam underneath the swimmers for a while. It was the highlight of the crossing. 
After three hours they could see Morocco and they both upped their pace. Their swim had taken 3hrs 34 mins. They later learned that they are the 225th and 226th swimmers to complete this crossing and the fastest Brit and Aussie (Simon) in history. Now that is something to tell the grandchildren.

Channel Swim

We congratulate Brighton SC member, Tom Hudson, who successfully achieved a solo Channel crossing at 2.40am Saturday 16th August, 2008, when he reached land just east of Calais. He had been in the water for seventeen hours and forty minutes. Tom made good progress until reaching the French shipping lane when darkness fell and the wind reached gale force 4. After ten and a half hours he was just three miles off land. Then a strong tide carried him east for six to seven hours and he could make no progress towards land, although frustratingly all this time he was able to see lights on the French coast. On the day Tom swam he was the only person out of eleven starters to complete a one way swim. A woman attempting a two way swim had to give up on her return leg. Photo shows Tom during his swim.

Mike Read Life Member of Brighton SC

Mike Read was a very successful Junior sprint swimmer, County Champion holding about 12 titles, English Schools Champion and British Universities Champion and winner of many sea races. He has also won the National ASA Masters 5/3 km 8 times in the last 12 years. He was selected as a member of the British Olympic Swimming Squad for Rome in 1960. Then Mike took up long distance open water swimming and a look at his website describes many of the astonishing swims he has achieved all round the world. Mike currently lives in Ipswich.
On the 10th July 2004 at the age of 63, Mike swam the full FINA World series course on Lake Ohrid Macedonia,(30k+) in 9 hours 53 mins.
On the 16th July he swam the Gulf of Toroneos Northern Greece, (27k) in 9 hours 50 mins.
Following that, on July 27 2004, he swam the English Channel again for the 33rd time.
It is understood from his close friend Neil Tasker (also a life member of Brighton SC) who also swam for GB, that Mike does not regard this latest Channel success as his last.
He has future plans, so watch this space.

In a remarkable marathon swimming career during which he set 18 world records he has also swum over 120 of the new "ultra marathon distances".
Mike has been involved in administration for 6 decades, first becoming a committee member at Brighton Swimming Club in 1958.
In the early 1970's he was elected a member of the British Long Distance Swimming Association committee and in 1973 he was elected to the committee of the Channel Swimming Association.
He served as that Association's Vice Chairman from 1977-1993, when he was elected Chairman.
He served as Chairman until 1999 when the Association voted to become a Limited Company, at which time he was re-elected Chairman of the Board of the Channel Swimming Association Ltd.
He served in this capacity until 2007, when he stood down after being elected President of the Channel Swimming Association Ltd.

Mike was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale on May 6th, 2011.
Read the Hall of Fame citation

Previous winners of the award
1970 Joe Grossman
1971 Gerald Forsberg
1972 Buck Dawson
1973 Willy van Rysel
1974 Jerry Nason
1975 R. and A. Scott
1976 Aquatique Club Dulac St. Jean
1977 Connie Wennerberg
1978 Charles E. Silvia
1979 Dennis Matuch
1980-2001 Award Retired
2002 James J. Doty
2003 British Long Distance Swimming Association
2004 Roger & Val Parsons
2005 Lynn Blouin
2006 Dale Petranech
2007 Silvia Dalotto
2008 Shelley Taylor-Smith

Origins of Sea Swimming.

Since its formation in 1860, Brighton Swimming Club has sought various ways to promote the health benefits to be derived from sea swimming.
This was in line with the Club's original objectives take a look at the Club history & Floating Memories for an amazing insight into a completely different world to that which exists today.
The little group of North Street tradesmen gathering on the Albion Beach in 1858, who were to found Brighton Swimming Club two years later, did so in order to challenge previous accepted ideas about bathing. It was this that brought them together in order to learn to swim and to encourage others. It is to be noted that between the annual swimming races they introduced "marine antics" – the exchanging of clothes between two fully dressed swimmers, the marine tea parties, and other acts illustrating how at home in the water they had become.

Winter bathers pose outside the club premises in 1891 at 8am on a bright March morning.
In the inter-war years there was a beach life saving patrol, and during the post war bank holidays "fun" events were held to entertain the public. There were surf life saving demonstrations held on the Albion beach in the early 1960s. The "seaside" began at Brighton and Brighton Swimming Club is proud of the role it played in it.

General Infromation About the Sea

About the beach 
The beach at Brighton consists of a sloping shingle bank, with a level area of sand exposed or covered with shallow water at low tide. At high tide, the sea can be deep just a couple of metres off-shore. Children who cannot swim should be kept away until near the time of low tide. The shape of the beach can change from one day to the next.
Buoying and lifeguard arrangements 
Organised by Brighton and Hove Council, these are currently under review. From mid-May to early September, there are designated bathing areas, with supervision by qualified lifeguards from about 11.00am to 6.00pm. When the lifeguards are on duty, a red and yellow flag is flown, and a red danger 'no bathing' flag if the sea is considered too rough.
How clean is the sea? 
The short answer is that the sea is clean enough most of the time, but not as clean as it ought to be. Brighton and Hove beaches have never come up to the standard required to qualify for a Blue Flag, but this is partly due to the quality of amenities on the sea front generally, as becomes clear when Brighton is compared with a Blue Flag resort .
Sewage from Brighton and Hove is discharged a mile offshore from the Portobello outfall at Telscombe. Dilution and the effect of sunlight should destroy harmful bacteria and prevent pollution of the sea at Brighton. To satisfy EU Directives, Southern Water is currently trying to find a site for a treatment works but this has proved problematic.
Since the late 1990s, polluted storm water overflows have been diverted to a £50 million storm relief tunnel constructed in the 1990s, running from Hove Street to Black Rock; it is stored and pumped to Portobello outfall. This is meant to be able to cope with up to a 50 year storm but in practice is has failed to cope a couple of times since it came into use; this happened after exceptionally heavy summer storms, but the problem was obvious, and it is probably true to say that the sea off Brighton is cleaner than it has been for at least the past two centuries. None of the regular bathers has caught any infection due to the sea since the collector tunnel came into use.
Sea temperature 
The sea temperature ranges from 5°C (41°F) at the coldest time of the year, at the end of January, to about 20°C (68°F) at the hottest, in mid-August.
The rising tide flows up the Channel from the west, therefore on the flood (rising) tide, the current runs from west to east (Hove to Brighton). About 90 minutes before the time of high water, the flow reverses and runs east to west until about an hour before low tide, when the eastward flow resumes. However, the wind also has an effect and the current may be delayed or cancelled out altogether. There are variations close inshore, especially close to the piers and groynes.
Weaver Fish 
A hazard to paddlers at low tide, weaver fish bury themselves in the sand and can cause a painful sting if trodden on. To avoid the risk, wear footwear. The cure for a weaver fish sting is to place the foot (or hand) as soon as possible in very hot water (as hot as bearable). Heat destroys the toxin and the pain will subside after a few minutes.
Underwater obstructions 
Some of the groynes are in poor condition and have been breaking up in stormy weather, leaving concrete blocks on the beach.
Medical Conditions 
Bathing in cold water can be dangerous, and made ever more so if you have epilepsy, heart disease or high blood pressure. Seek medical advice.

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