Channel swimmer Gary Brickley

Congratulations to Gary Brickley for his recent successful Channel swim. Gary is a lecturer in the Sports Science department at the university and works with the Paralympic GB cycling team. He’s shared his experience with us – not only did he complete the swim but did so in an impressive time of less than 12 hours.

“On Tuesday 30th August I set out to swim the English Channel something that had been on my wish list for many years. It’s not an easy task, indeed two days earlier a man lost his life one mile from the French coast attempting the swim. I’ve done some big swims Lake Zurich 23km, Rottnest Island 19km, swim a mile every hour for 24 hours in the pool but the channel for me is the ultimate in open water swimming.

Firstly you’ve got to book a support vessel then hope the conditions for your 5 day slot are favourable. In the meantime you train and make sure you don’t get injured. That’s where the staff at Sportswise have helped.  Since Simon Whitehart moved back to Australia Maryke has helped to ensure my shoulders can tolerate the 40-50,000 strokes needed to swim the channel. Her understanding of the demands and my own training mentality have really helped. I’m not so young at 51 but with the support of Nick Webborn and the staff of Sportwise I felt prepared for the challenge.

Conditions were perfect on the day, though the tide a little bit stronger than expected. The challenge was first to get there, then to get there before it got dark and the dream was to get there ideally in less than 12 hours. The average time is around 15 hours. It’s 21 miles of swimming with a fair bit of movement with the current as you can see from my tracking, shown in the photo.

Gary's Channel swim tracking

Gary’s Channel swim tracking

After the swim

After the swim






In brief everything went brilliantly. I had a great crew onboard, had a 1minute spell at 2h 30 min where I felt I was going too hard but apart from that it went perfectly. I fed with a gel every 45 min. The last mile was tough and a few jelly fish stings kept me awake but at 8pm or 9pm French time I stood on the rocks at Cap Gris Nez proud to know I was finally a channel swimmer. I recovered really well and was back in the sea at Eastbourne 12 hours later, after 11 hours and 47 minutes of swimming I’d made it. I’ve made sure I’ve been in the sea every day this year and there were still no excuses.”