Howard James (née Keech) has that undeniable look of a channel swimmer: a look of determination and intense focus coupled with a sense of adventure and a dash of unbridled joy.
But when it comes to number 13, James seems to cross paths with that (lucky) number plenty of times in his career.
On May 16th, James completed the earliest crossing of the English Channel, previously held by Kevin Murphy of May 29th [shown below]. He broke the record by 13 days.
He completed the swim in 13 hours 13 minutes while finishing the swim at 7:13 pm.
He was also the 13th successful person in history to swim across the North Channel in 13 hours 25 minutes.
And the water in his record-setting English Channel crossing was under 13ºC water.
“I swam Lake Zurich in 2013 along with many other swims, but having swam the North Channel [see upper photo], I believed this experience [in 10.5ºC water in the North Channel] would give me an edge on the attempt of this mid-May swim.
My pilot Andy King of the Channel Swimming Association was in agreement.”
He was relentless in crossing the cold Channel in slightly sloppy conditions [see video below]. He initially missed the Cap Gris-Nez towards the end, but eventually fought back across the tidal flow and landed onshore in France.
Cold was never an issue. “Andy [King] later told me he had not once thought I was getting cold or showed any signs of hyperthermia. [Same in the North Channel crossing], Brian Meharg too was astonished that I didn’t shake after getting out of the North Channel.
Determination I think gets the better of me…“
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