A springboard to a world of distance swimming

Clevedon waters have been an inspiration for many swimmers, and today act as a stepping-stone for a growing number of open water enthusiasts.

Many successful long-distance swims have been achieved thanks to Clevedon Marine Lake and its enduring accessibility as a training ground.  During 1980s and 90s, although Clevedon Marine Lake fell into disrepair, it was never abandoned, and quietly nurtured long-distance swimmers who have swum the world over.  One of a handful of such swimmers is Steve Price, who went on to become the first man to complete the 3-Channels’ challenge, by swimming the English, Bristol and Irish Channels.

Steve Price Long distance solo swims

Date

Duration

English Channel

October 1987

15 hours 4 minutes

Bristol Channel (Clevedon to Penarth)

September 1992

8 hours 17 minutes

Bristol Channel double crossing (Clevedon to Penarth and back)

September 1994

15 hours 43 minutes

Irish Channel Portpatrick to Country Antrim

July 2000

16 hours 56 minutes

Steve says ‘My toughest challenge was the Irish Channel.  It took 17 hours to complete, in cold water just 11oC, and was riddled with jellyfish.’ Steve, who swims without a wetsuit, continues to train in Clevedon Marine Lake.

Steve’s enthusiasm for open water swimming was sparked by day trips to Clevedon Marine Lake from his childhood home in Lawrence Weston.  But it was when he moved to Clevedon in 1985 that he developed a passion for long distance swimming, hanging up his rugby boots in his mid-twenties in favour of a pair of googles, motivated by ‘the completion of the challenge’.

A self-taught front crawler, Steve would cycle down from his house in Dial Hill to immerse himself in the briny of the lake.  Seeing the display of Clevedon Long Swim trophies dating back 60 years inspired Steve not only to enter the race, but also to research bigger distance events run by The British Long Distance Swimming Association.  He went on to swim long distance in New York, Canada, San Francisco Alcatraz and the Nile, after which he was lucky enough to meet his swimming idol, Egyptian open water legend Abu Heif.  It is fair to say, Clevedon Marine Lake has opened many doors to Steve.

As a gesture of thanks, in 2016 Steve made a generous donation to Marlens, the voluntary group and charity behind the renovation and management of Clevedon’s historic Marine Lake, to help with the upkeep of the lake.  He says, ‘The lake has given so much to me, and opened up a world I’d never imagined.  When I saw it for the first time after the renovation, I felt very emotional.  I want to help keep it this way.  I want people to know what a special place Clevedon is for open water swimming.  It’s the third most tidal estuary in the world.  It can be dangerous so must be respected, but this unpredictability adds to the challenge.  It’s never the same.  Likewise, the lake, sometimes a haven, but it too can get wild.  With this strong grounding, I hope to find an opportunity to swim between the North and South islands of New Zealand.  The Cook Strait is 14 miles wide at its narrowest point and considered one of the most dangerous and unpredictable waters in the world.’

Steve believes he must have swum 1,000 miles in Clevedon Marine Lake over the years, so knows every inch of the seawall, intimately.  His longest training swim in the lake was 14 hours, during which, in a trance like state, he began to see roast chickens on the wall instead of seagulls!

Not only does Steve continue to swim long distances, but he also gives talks, both inspiring and entertaining, across the South West on his experiences born out of Clevedon Marine Lake.

Kate Gay
September 2016

Severn – first, second or third?

In November 2016, the Bay of Fundy installed a tidal turbine that, in time, is designed to generate enough electricity for the whole of the Canadian Atlantic seaboard – as a first step toward a lower carbon future using the power of the highest tidal range in the world. The intervention raised an interesting question from Jon Tuttle: Does this mean the Bristol Channel now has now the highest tidal range in the world, moving up the ranks from second position? Sadly, the answer is no.

I did some investigating and received the following email reply from Todd Ehret, an oceanographer with the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services:  I think what you are referring to is an “energy producing” object … something like a dam; but not nearly as restrictive — water still flows freely through a “barrage”. The existence of the barrage would not have a significant effect on the range of tides in the area. The Bay of Fundy is not going to lose its place as the largest range of tide, unless there is something built which all but completely blocks the entire bay. Such an energy barrage object would be installed in very small, narrow sections of the Bay of Fundy. On the “upstream side” of such a barrage, there **might be** small change in the tidal conditions, perhaps on the order of a few millimeters to 1 centimeter. But on the “downstream side” of the barrage, the range of tides would be unchanged, or might actually increase by a small amount (again on the mm to 1cm scale). That is part of the discussions and engineering of using tidal changes to create energy. Such constructions are intentionally designed to have limited impact on the “natural conditions” of area upstream of the construction.

Regards,
Todd Ehret

Oceanographer
User Services
Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services
Web: tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov

I have included two websites that back up this information. At this point in time, the Severn Estuary is recorded as third on the all-time list.
https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/faq2.html
http://www.top-ten-10.com/science/geography/tidal-range.htm

Nevertheless, it is an invigorating and challenging stretch of water, never to be underestimated.  Without it, Clevedon Marine Lake just wouldn’t be the same. Happy swimming, paddling and sailing! 

Jo McCready-Fallon
October 2017

Snap Happy

Clevedon Marine Lake is such a special place – with amazing skies, sunsets, sunrises, reflections and kaleidoscopic hues. As it’s so photogenic, we’d love you to capture and share your favourite photos via pics@clevedonmarinelake.co.uk – make sure you have the consent of anyone identifiable.  You might even find your photo headlining #LakePic of the month!

Thank you from MARLENS