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Swim the Channel

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This is the kind of ripe, quirky documentary we used to see more of, but which have gone slightly out of vogue. It’s a warmly observed portrait of a very British sub-culture, the group of souls who gather through the summer season on a Dover beach to train for the brutal business of swimming the Channel.

Mike is one of the pilots in small boats who help the swimmers make the crossing, the kind of man who answers the phone, saying “What can I do for thee, sir?” and says of Channel-swimming: “From the outside looking in it’s hard to understand and from the inside looking out, it’s hard to explain.”

But the programme does a nice job, showing us the odd characters who gather round the sport, like the man who greases up the swimmers while wearing one of those aprons with a woman-in-lingerie picture on it. As for the swimmers themselves, it’s hard to see the appeal of it all, but you have to admire their grit.


Documentary following the volunteers who support people in their dreams of swimming from England to France, training, feeding and greasing them in pursuit of their goals. At the heart of this community are pensioners Freda, Irene and Barry, who can be found in Dover every weekend from May to September, while the swimmers also rely on the skill of the pilots who navigate them safely to the other side of the busiest shipping lane in the world.

Cast & Crew

Director Steph Keelan
Director Emma Harpin
Producer Steph Keelan
Producer Emma Harpin


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