The English Channel is sometimes called the “Everest of swimming.” The frigid, 21-mile stretch between France and England is one of the hardest swims in the world. This summer, a team from Denver crossed it in 10 hours and 3 minutes, a record time for the three-man relay. 

The “Continental Divide” team consisted of Lee Ferguson, Micha Hanson, and David Tonini. Their record stood for a month until it was bested by another American team in September. 

Lee Ferguson, Micha Hanson and David Tonini spoke with Colorado Matters’ host Ryan Warner. Click on the audio above to hear the full conversation. Edited highlights are below:

Tonini on what makes the swim difficult:

“The distance is one piece of it. Finding salt water in Colorado is a difficult piece. And obviously, the temperature of the water. The aspect that we underestimated before we got out there was just how bad the weather can be in south England. And the weather was consistently bad for a solid two weeks while we were there. And we just really got fortunate that on the last day that we were there the weather broke and we got some sunshine.”

Hanson on how they prepared for the 61-degree water:

“It’s chilly, but the three of us had trained before in a lot of cold water swims that span from 56 degrees to 61. … I stuck to cold showers most of the Spring as well as ice baths for 20 minutes at a stint to 30 degrees at a stint. It helped with the mental tolerance of getting in. But the big swims we did in the cold I think were the best for tolerance.”

Ferguson on what it was like to briefly hold the record:

“[I was] shocked and surprised. We got in it to finish, not to break the record. We were pleased with our time. It was about an hour faster than we thought we could do it. … I felt a little odd telling people we had a world record. And right when I felt comfortable saying that, I learned it had been broken.”

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