Long distance swimming

Round Island and Jersey to France swims have become increasingly more popular as a long distance swimming challenge. Currently there are no restrictions on long distance swimming enforced by Jersey Coastguard in Jersey’s local waters.

The following information aims to promote safe practice and to provide the necessary information required if the need for assistance arises.

Jersey Coastguard and St Helier Vessel Traffic Service (VTS)

Who to inform if you are planning a long distance swim

If planning a long distance swimming event it is recommended that Jersey Coastguard are informed 48 hours prior to the swim by forwarding the  completed long distance swimming form either by fax or email.

If the swim involves entering French waters, it is also advised that the French authorities are informed. 

Contact details for both Jersey Coastguard and the French authorities are available in the appendix of the long distance swimming advice and information download.

What to do on the day of the event before starting the swim

On the day of the event, before starting the swim, either update or confirm with Jersey Coastguard on VHF channel 82 the following:

  • intended start time
  • confirm number of swimmers
  • number of guard vessels
  • total number of crew on each vessel
  • any assisting craft such as kayaks

Reporting points

Reporting points along the course are recommended to enable the coastguard to be kept up-to-date with the progress of the swim. It is also recommended at these points to request a weather update. Communications should primarily be done through VHF channel 82.

Details of recommended reporting points for a round Island or Jersey to France swim are shown in the appendix of the long distance swimming advice and information download.

Swim start positions near traffic lanes

If a swim start position is located near any traffic lanes then St Helier VTS must be informed of the same information as required by the coastguard outlined above via VHF channel 14.

Once the swimmer and escorting vessels are clear of the traffic lanes once again inform VTS. VTS will then be able to advise of any commercial traffic movements at that time and whether the start should be delayed until a sufficient window of time is available for the swimmer to cross the
traffic lanes safely.

Round Island swims

For a round Island swim, VTS should be informed as the swimmer passes Corbiere and then again at Noirmont Point so as to advise of any commercial shipping transiting the area along the south coast and in turn advise those vessels so they can pass with caution. On completion of a round Island swim, Jersey Coastguard and St Helier VTS should be advised on their respective channels.

Jersey to France swims

For a Jersey to France swim, on crossing Longitude 0150’.00 W, inform Jersey Coastguard VHF channel 82 then call Cross Jobourg on VHF channel 16 and request a working channel, passing the relevant details of the swim to them. For the duration of the swim a listening watch should be maintained on VHF channel 16. If the swim terminates in France then Cross Joburg and Jersey Coastguard should be informed. On return passage to Jersey a traffic report should be opened with Jersey Coastguard and then closed on safe arrival.

VHF radios and logging reports

Tides and sea conditions

Jersey has some strong tidal currents. Some are notably more prominent at certain states of the tide and at different points along the coast due to the large tidal range experienced by the Channel Islands and adjacent coast of France.

Information regarding tidal conditions around the coast can be found in the ‘Admiralty Tidal Stream Atlas: The Channel Islands and Adjacent Coasts of France’. Information is also available on the Easytide website.

Easytide website

Weather

Jersey’s weather can be quite localised and is subject to change due to its location in the Bay of St Malo. Weather conditions are one element that cannot be controlled, and is one of the most important factors that needs to be considered when organising a long distance swimming event.

Weather and shipping forecasts

The weather forecast should be closely monitored up-to and throughout the event. All weather information can be obtained from the Jersey Meteorological Department.

The coastguard also recommends that at each reporting point that the latest weather details are obtained through the coastguard on VHF channel 82.

Jersey Coastguard broadcasts the latest shipping forecasts on VHF channel 82. The times for these broadcasts can be found on the weather section of the website. 

Weather
Jersey Meteorological Department website

Deterioration in weather conditions

The coastguard would advise that a long distance swimming attempt should be abandoned if :

  • the visibility is greatly reduced ie fog
  • the wind strength increases to F4 or greater

If there is any deterioration in the weather conditions, the safety of the swimmer should be taken into consideration and a decision should be made whether to continue or abandon the attempt. Do not hesitate to contact Jersey Coastguard on VHF channel 82 for any advice or assistance.

Commercial shipping traffic

Commercial shipping will be a danger that must be considered when organising a swimming event. A navigational chart must be referred to in order to be familiar with the routes used by ships to enter and leave the Port of Jersey and any restricted or precautionary areas. St Helier VTS must be informed of any swimming that is to take place near any of the main shipping passages or restricted areas on VHF channel 14.

Recommended organisations

The coastguard recommends that anyone embarking on a long distance swimming event should join or contact a local club. They have knowledge, experience and expertise in this field, that would be beneficial to any swimmer wishing to take on a long distance swimming challenge in local waters.

Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club website
Channel swimming website