The English Channel is the Mount Everest of outdoor swimming: longer than its 21miles as the cod swims, because of tidal flows; cold; and beset by ships, jellyfish and occasional planks of wood. It’s also expensive: you won’t see much change from £4,000 after registration with the Channel Swimming Association, hire of an official escort boat, accommodation, food and travel. So, for a more manageable endurance swim, go to Windermere.
England’s longest lake is around half the length of the Channel, at 11 miles, but that doesn’t make it the lightweight’s option. Swimmers can expect choppy waves, pleasure boats and water that can be colder than the Channel (it’s deeper). Nor, given the temptation to bail out on to the banks in a narrow lake, is the psychological challenge of going the distance much less demanding. There are also the surroundings to consider. A swim among wooded hills and rounded peaks, or in Channel water that stretches to infinity? Your choice. I know which I’d prefer. ● Next event: the organised Windermere One Way on Sunday September 3; from £150 (01257 251217; windermereoneway. co.uk); or the Great North Swim in June 2018 (0191 272 7033; greatrun.org/ great-swim).