Rules - Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation


Standard Swim Suit Clarification

No swimmer in a standard attempt to swim the Channel shall be permitted to use or wear any device or swimsuit that may aid his/her speed, buoyancy, heat retention or endurance (such as wetsuit, webbed gloves, paddles, fins, etc). The swimmer is permitted to grease the body before a swim, use goggles and one hat. Nose clips and earplugs are permitted. Any kind of tape on the body is not permitted unless approved by the observer. 

The swimmer may wear only one swimsuit in one or two pieces which shall not extend past the shoulder or below the knee. All swimsuits shall be made from textile materials. Caps may not be made from neoprene or any other material which offers similar heat retention properties (as determined by the CS&PF Committee). Silicone or latex hats are permitted.

The observer will have to approve that the swimwear rules have been observed. The swimmer must be sure that their costume and cap are of an approved type before the swim starts as the swim will not be recognised if they are later found not to conform. If you have any doubt, please seek advice and/or approval from the CS&PF Committee prior to the swim giving sufficient notice for any research or investigations to be completed.

During a swim no physical contact with the swimmer shall be made by any person other than to pass food and drink or secure such items as light sticks for safety reasons.

The use of MP3 players and other electrical audio / communication devices shall not be allowed by the swimmer while swimming during any English Channel swim attempt.

Special Swim

This is a relay category swim only and listed under Rule 11 "Relay swims"

Assisted Swim

An assisted category swim will be to the same rules as a standard swim except for the allowance, by prior arrangement with the Federation, of the minimum additional aids or contact as is deemed necessary for the safety of the swim on medical or other agreed grounds. An assisted category swim will only be accepted after prior agreement with the Federation.

(c) For a swim to be officially recognised, the swimmer must enter into the sea from the shore of departure, swim across the English Channel (i) to finish on dry land, or (ii) to touch steep cliffs of the opposite coast with no sea-water beyond. Swimmers may finish in harbour water provided they land as in (i).

(d) For a multiple crossing to be officially recognised, the swimmer must, as soon as they make contact with the ground, land as directly as possible in accordance with rule 10(c). They must then return immediately to the water, where they may stand or sit for up to 10 minutes. During this time they must not be touched by any person, but may be handed food, grease, medicines or swimming apparel to be administered by themselves. They must then, in agreement with the Observer, make the most direct and reasonable way to water deep enough in which to swim, and commence swimming. In all the above conditions, the Observer's ruling will be final, subject to official ratification by the Committee.

The time spent before the return swim starts shall be added to the time of the subsequent crossing.

(e) Every application for recognition of a swim must be accompanied by the Pilot's chart positions and by the Observer's Report, recording incidents, time, tides, method of feeding, etc.. The Committee may call for additional evidence if they require it.

(f) The appointed Observer shall be in sole charge of the timing of the swim, and shall be responsible for observing compliance with the rules, subject to ratification by the Committee.

(g) The timing of a swim shall start from the moment the swimmer enters the water until he completes the swim as laid down in Rule 10(c).

(h) On their arrival in the Dover area the swimmer must advise the Secretary and the Pilot of their place of residence. All documentation must be completed by the time limits laid down in the CS&PF information and any changes in dates or arrangements for Pilots etc must be reported as soon as possible but before the swim starts. The Pilots are required to give the Secretary a full 24 hours notice of the possible departure of the pilot boat. Failure to give such notice could mean that an Official Observer may not be able to be appointed and the swim will not be able to proceed.

(i) The Federation shall not observe solo attempts to swim the Channel by persons under 16 years of age. Swimmers shall be over 16 years at least 3 days before the swim starts, and for registration purposes, at the beginning of the swim period they are booked to swim in. The Committee shall be empowered to examine and to refuse to accept if thought necessary, the applications of persons to attempt to swim the Channel especially when they are over 55 years of age.

(j) Swimmers must be aged 12 years for at least 3 days before they can swim in a standard relay team, subject to correct registration and to their medicals being accepted. See relay rules 11.

(k) All aspirants must satisfy the Federation of their competence to make a realistic effort to undertake a successful attempt to swim the Channel. (See "additional rules" qualifying swim requirements on last page.)

All swimmers taking part in a solo swim must supply proof/ratification of a 6 hour swim in water 61°F / 16°C or less or proof of completion in a recognised event for a period considered by the CS&PF to be an acceptable alternative within the previous 30 months.

All swimmers taking part in a relay team swim must supply proof/ ratification of a 2 hour swim in water 61°F/16°C or less or proof of completion in a recognised event for a period considered by the CS&PF to be an acceptable alternative within the previous 18 months.

(l) The use of drugs by participants in Channel Swimming, other than for therapeutic reasons in accordance with medical advice, is regarded with complete disapproval and is considered contrary to the spirit of the sport. Any swimmer unable to participate without the administration of banned drugs must submit their application to the Federation with ample time for its consideration. The Federation reserve the right to make random drug tests on Channel aspirants. The Observer may require a sample of any medication given.

(m) Only Federation registered pilots who are members of the CS&PF and hold the required qualifications will be recognised to pilot CS&PF crossings. Only Federation registered pilot boats with the required certification in force will be allowed to escort CS&PF registered crossings.

Pilot and pilot vessel documentation and certification are to be produced within 7 days if requested by the CS&PF office.

Pilot recognition will be reviewed on an annual basis. Pilot and pilot vessel details will be registered with the British & French authorities on an annual basis by the Federation office. It is the responsibility of the pilot/owner of the pilot boat to inform the Federation of any changes in circumstances which will invalidate the required qualifications and certifications.

(n) In no circumstances shall more than one swimmer at a time be allowed to make their attempt from the same pilot boat.

(o) Only one dinghy or inflatable at a time shall be permitted to operate with a pilot boat.

(p) During solo swims a swimmer may be accompanied in the water by 1 person only & not accompanied at all until after the first 3 hours. This accompaniment will be for a maximum of 1 hour & cannot be repeated until at least 2 hours have elapsed after the cessation of the accompaniment.

The second swimmer may swim alongside, but not in front, of the solo aspirant & must not impede the solo swimmer.

For health & safety reasons the pilot must agree to any request for a support swimmer before they enter the water to accompany the swimmer.

The pilot may, at his or her discretion, request that a second swimmer join the solo aspirant outside of these times for a short period on the grounds of safety. (i.e. if a swimmer suffers severe cramps). Similarly the pilot may ask for accompaniment at the very end of a solo swim if the conditions dictate. This is to be allowed even if the request is within 2 hours of a previous accompaniment.

No support swimming is to be allowed on a relay swim.