NNorth Channel attempts are only recognised when they start and finish within Admiralty Chart 2198, Southern Part.
No other route will be recognised.
The shortest distance across is 18.6 nautical miles (21.4 miles) (34.5km).
ILDSA North Channel Qualifying Criteria
Solo swimmers must be at least 18 years of age prior to the swim unless pre-approved by the ILDSA.
Relay swimmers must be at least 16 years of age prior to the swim unless pre-approved by the ILDSA.
All swimmers must submit medical documentation to prove their fitness to attempt the North Channel.
All swimmers must be members of the ILDSA. This membership is created as part of your online application to swim the North Channel.
All swimmers must satisfy the ILDSA of their competence to make a realistic effort to undertake a successful attempt of the North Channel, by achieving the qualifying criteria set out below.
CRITERIA SOLO SWIMMER Applicant must complete at least one of the following verified and witnessed swims within 12 months prior to their North Channel attempt: A 6 hour swim (8 hour for 2-way swimmers) in water of 13°C or below OR An 8 hour swim (12 hours for 2-way swimmers) in water 15°C or below OR Proof of completion in a recognised Channel Swim in water 13°C or below for a period considered by the ILDSA to be an acceptable. Copies of Independent Observers logs and photographic evidence of temperature should be included.
CRITERIA RELAY SWIMMERS Relay teams are a Minimum of 2 persons and a Maximum 6 persons. Each swimmer must complete at least one of the following verified and witnessed swims within 12 months prior to their North Channel attempt:
For 1 Way relay applications: A 2 hour swim in water of 14°C or below for a relay 1-way OR A 3 hour swim in water of 16°C or below for a relay 1-way.
For 2 Way relay applications: A 2 hour plus additional 1 hour within 12 hours in water of 14°C or below OR A 3 hour plus additional 1 hour swim within 12 hours of each other, in water of 16°C or below.
Proof of completion in a recognised Channel Swim in water 14°C or below for a period considered by the ILDSA to be acceptable. Copies of Independent Observers logs and photographic evidence of temperature should be included.
The swimmer is permitted to grease the body before a swim.
Goggles, nose clips and earplugs are permitted. No wearable devices are permitted, mechanical / electronic assistance is not allowed.
Any kind of tape on the body is not permitted unless pre approved.
All swimsuits must be made from textile materials, and must be in one or two pieces. Swimwear must not extend past the shoulder or below the knee.
One single layer swimming cap is permitted, and must be made from silicone or latex. Caps must not be made from neoprene or other heat retaining materials.
The ILDSA North Channel Observer shall approve all swim apparel prior to the swim attempt beginning.
During the Swim
No physical contact with the swimmer is allowed.
The use of MP3 players or other electrical audio or communication device is not permitted.
Swimmers must provide their own Support Crew (minimum of 1), who are responsible for your well being, but may not interfere with the decisions of the Pilot or ILDSA North Channel Observer. One additional vessel (kayak, canoe or other) is permitted under the supervision of the pilot.
Starting Position: Swimmers must enter the water from the shore, or from the Pilot boat and swim to beach or rocks with no running sea water behind and start from there.
Finishing: Swimmers must finish on dry land or by touching cliffs with no sea water behind unless deemed unsafe by the ILDSA North Channel observer but must be within 3 metres of land.
Turning on two way swims: land as per 4 and 5 above. You should immediately return to the water, where you may stand or sit for 10 minutes. You may not be touched by any person, but can have grease, food, medical supplies or swim apparel handed to you. This stop time is added to your overall time.
Support swimmers: Solo swimmers may have support swimmers after the first period of 3 hours has elapsed and for a period of 1 hour. The support swimmer may not re-enter the water until a period of two hours has elapsed. The support swimmer may swim alongside, not in front of, the swimmer. The Pilot may request, at their discretion, the support swimmer to join the swimmer outside these times for health and safety reasons, e.g. finishing moments of a swim to support a swimmer back to the boat. Relay swimmers are not permitted to have support swimmers or pace makers.
Relay swimmers (minimum 2 maximum 6 ) must swim for at least 1 hour each, in the same order each time. At change over, swimmers shall enter the water from behind the current swimmer and swim past. The swimmer in the water shall exit as soon as possible, with change over taking no more than 5 minutes. The rota (order of swimmers, length of each swim) for the relay team members must be agreed in advance with the ILDSA North Channel Observer.
Any adaptations to these rules required for swimmers with additional needs, must be agreed in advance by the ILDSA.
Official ILDSA North Channel Observers
Observers shall be allocated by the ILDSA.
Observers require a full 12 hours notice of the intended start time of the swim, within the allocated seven day window for your swim. Please note if the observer is called out and the swim is postponed a surcharge of £50 is liable to cover the observer’s expenses.
Please note if you decide on the day not to avail of the slot allocated and deemed suitable by your pilot and the ILDSA North Channel Observer is in attendance you will forfeit all monies paid to the ILDSA and will be required to re-start the application process if you wish to swim.
The ILDSA North Channel Observer will ensure the ILDSA Rules of the North Channel are adhered to.
One ILDSA North Channel Observer is required for EACH WAY of the attempt (i.e. two Observers for a 2-way swim, three Observers for a 3-way swim).
The ILDSA North Channel Observer will complete an Official ILDSA North Channel Observers Log, which details conditions, incidents, times, food breaks, medication taken, water temperature, sea state, air temperature. A copy of the Log will be available to swimmers upon request within one calendar month of the swim date.
ILDSA North Channel Escort Pilots
Swimmers must satisfy themselves that they have appointed the best Pilot to suit their needs. The ILDSA is not responsible for your swim route or any decisions your Pilot makes with or for you. The ILDSA does not offer any training to, or endorsement of Pilots or Agents.
The pilot you choose will be required to sign a declaration, provided by the ILDSA to confirm they are fully qualified, insured and their vessel is seaworthy and approved by the MCA.
The pilot will be required to provide the ILDSA North Channel observer with GPS coordinates and other details so as to ensure the swim progress is fully documented and in order to ratify your swim.
Only one swimmer or relay team is permitted to make an attempt with any one Pilot at a time.
Code of Conduct
Swimmers must declare that they have prepared to the best of their ability, having the relevant experience and training regime, abide by international anti-doping policies and have adequate clothing, nutritional requirements and support in place.
Banned drugs and substances
The Irish Long Distance Swimming Association is guided by the principles applied by the International Olympic Committee and UK Sport. Swimmers need to be aware that you may be requested to undertake a drug test at any time up until 24 hours after your swim.
UK Sport website – Drug Free Sport
You are strongly urged to read the advice given on the UK Sport website about athletes using supplements. Detailed advice on this subject is available from their website http://www.uksport.gov.uk
Do not let yourself be caught out. For the most up to date list of prohibited drugs swimmers are recommended to go to: World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
Provides a complete list of banned substances and also enables the user to search for individual active ingredients: Click here
Everyone involved in the swim attempt – swimmer, ILDSA North Channel observer, support personnel, and escort boat personnel must treat the environment respectfully and prevent avoidable harm to marine wildlife and eco systems.