Planning a race or event

Long distance swimming

Round Island and Jersey to France swims have become increasingly more popular as a long distance swimming challenge.

The following information is set out to promote safe practice and to provide as much of the necessary information required, should the need for assistance arise.

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, Jersey Coastguard should be informed a minimum of 48 hrs prior to the swim.

Forward a completed ‘Coastguard Long Distance Swimming form.docx’ form either by email or fax to Jersey Coastguard. Early notification of any postponement or cancellation of the swim or changes to the route would be appreciated.

If the swim involves entering French waters, the French authorities should also be informed by the swim organiser.

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
  • 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 enable Jersey Coastguard to be kept up-to-date with the progress of the swim.

It is 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 illustrated on the attached appendix page in figures 1.1 and 1.2.

Swim start positions near traffic lanes

If a swim start position is located near any traffic lanes, then St Helier VTS must also be advised of the same information provided to the Coastguard via VHF channel 14.

VTS will advise of any commercial traffic movements likely to affect the swim and will either confirm the start of the swim, or notify of a suitable window of time for the swimmer to cross the traffic lanes safely.

Once the swimmer and escorting vessels are clear of the traffic lanes VTS must be informed.

Round Island swims

For a Round-Island swim, VTS should be informed as the swimmer passes Corbiere and then again at Noirmont Point.

St Helier VTS will include information on the swim in their Routine broadcast at +15 past the hour, informing commercial shipping operating within the VTS Area.

Jersey to France swims

For a Jersey to France swim, on commencement of the swim, call CROSS JOBOURG on VHF channel 16, request a working channel and pass the relevant details of the swim to them.

On crossing Longitude 01°50′.00 W, inform Jersey Coastguard on VHF channel 82, and once again call CROSS JOBOURG on VHF channel 16 and request a working channel to advise them the swim is now entering French waters.

For the duration of the swim, a listening watch should be maintained on VHF channel 16.

On completion of a Round Island swim, Jersey Coastguard and St Helier VTS should be advised on their respective channels. If the swim terminates in France, then CROSS JOBURG and Jersey Coastguard should be informed.

On return passage to Jersey, a Traffic Report (TR) should be opened with Jersey Coastguard and then closed on safe arrival. Information on TRs can be found on under 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.

Weather and shipping forecasts

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.

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

Jersey Coastguard also broadcasts the latest shipping forecasts on VHF channel 82.

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

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

Jersey 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, which would be beneficial to any swimmer wishing to take on a long distance swimming challenge in local waters.

It is also recommended that any Guard Boat leading the swim should be piloted by a suitably experienced skipper, with knowledge of local waters, reefs and conditions and that the vessel is equipped with a Class B AIS transceiver.