Team Qatar Channel Swim headed to UK on Wednesday as they get ready for their historic attempt to swim across the English Channel, the first of its kind by Qatari athletes.
The Team made up of seven Qatari amateur athletes is expected to make the attempt at some point between July 20-27. The exact date and start time will be decided according to weather and swimming conditions, as factors like strong tides, wind and channel traffic can make a great difference for the team during the journey that can see them swimming for 40-50 kms on relay basis.
The team members are Dr. Faleh Mohamed Ali, Dr. Mohammed Al Kuwari, Dr. Jamal Rashid Al Khanji, Dr. Khalid Al Jalham, Prof. Nasser Al Mohannadi, Fahad Al Buenain and Talal Al Emadi. They all have full time jobs in fields like medicine, engineering, marketing, business administration and law, but they share a passion for endurance and adventurous sports, and their aim is to encourage the Qatari community to take on sports and lead a healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Faleh Ali, 52, who works in healthcare sector, has founded the team earlier this year after being inspired by a documentary about a TV anchor who swam across the English Channel to raise funds for his community.
“We want to prove to our community that practicing sports is possible, whatever the circumstances. All members of our team have busy work schedules and family responsibilities, but they decided to make practicing sport an integral part of their lives. Being a member of the first ever Qatari team to attempt to swim across the English Channel is a great honour. It is an extremely difficult attempt, but we have prepared well for it and we will do our best to make our country proud”.
Swimming across the English Channel – also known as “La Manche” in French – is one of the most difficult physical challenges on earth and that is why it has fascinated adventure seekers from all around the world since British captain Matthew made the first successful crossing in 1875. Only around 1500 solo swimmers and 760 teams have recorded successful attempts since then, with thousands more failing, mainly due to the gruesome conditions they have faced, and the strict rules set up by the Channel Swim Association (CSA), the organization responsible for observing and authenticating Cross-Channel Swims.
The 560-km channel separating England and France, and linking the North Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, is the world’s busiest waterway, with more than 600 vessels and 200 ferries passing through it every day. The swimmers must be escorted by a CSA-certified captain and boat during their attempt, and they will not only need to swim in cold waters that can reach as low as 10 degrees Celsius during the swim season, they will also have to deal with other possible hazards like strong tides, cold wind, waves, oil slicks, jelly fish, fog and possible rain or lightning.
According to CSA rules, each member of “Team Qatar Channel Swim” will need to swim for at least an hour, and the order of swimmers must not change during the attempt. If one member dropped out due to any reason, the whole attempt, which might take between 20 and 30 hours, will be cancelled!
“We all need to be fully fit, swimming in cold water is gruesome, it takes a heavy toll on your body, we will need to eat special meals during the attempt, that works on heating the body from inside. The CSA rules are very strict, you can never touch the boat, and food will be thrown to you through a very fine thread, that must not be stretched at any moment, if it is slightly pulled, the attempt will be considered void!” explained Dr. Ali.
Team Qatar Channel Swim will kick off their attempt on the English side, at or near Shakespeare’s Cliff or Samphire Hoe (between Folkestone and Dover), and their aim is to reach the French side, at or near Cap Gris Nez (between Boulogne and Calais). The exact location will be decided later, and the team will be escorted on the Channel by the vessel Rowena captained by Pete Reed.
The team’s preparations for the historic attempt started in January, and included intensive training camps in Qatar, Croatia and UK under the guidance of two very experienced coaches; head coach and team director Mr. Ryan Bowd and channel swim coach Mr. Tim Denyer.
The gold partners of Team Qatar Channel Swim are Al Asmakh Real Estate Development and BMI Fitness, with the list of sponsors also including Al Kass Channel (Media Partner), PRO-TV Qatar (Communication Partner) and Intaleq (Technology Partner).