Crossing the English Channel


Over eleven hours in the water: Nathalie Pohl’s attempt to swim the English Channel.

Measuring 32 kilometres across, the English Channel is known as the busiest shipping lane in the world. On 30 August 2015, Nathalie started her attempt to swim the Channel from Shakespeare Beach in the south of England to Cap Gris Nez in northern France.

The weather, wind and strong currents, as well as ship traffic of almost 500 ships a day, posed Nathalie with a major challenge. At 8 a.m., the time had come: Nathalie entered the water. At first, everything went well. She made good progress. “Of course, it was windy and cold but for the Channel, the conditions were pretty good,” trainer Joshua Neuloh says. “The sun was even shining for the first few hours,” Nathalie remembers, who battled through the Channel, hour after hour. “At the beginning, your mind is very active, you count your breaths, look out at the landscape or the ships passing you by. But eventually, you start swimming without thinking at all.” It became harder and harder for her to continue. “I was breathing in the fumes from the boat and kept swallowing saltwater. On top of that, I was still a bit weak due to the tonsillitis,” Nathalie reports. After 11 hours and 35 minutes, Joshua Neuloh finally broke off the attempt – six kilometres from the French coast. Nathalie doesn’t regret her attempt. On the contrary: “It was the right decision and I would do it again – and I will do it again.”