As we gazed over the ocean's horizon with a slight wind pushing a few white clouds across the blue skies, we were talking with Sid Cassidy about Petar Stoychev's incredible 6:57 crossing of the English Channel on August 24th, 2007.
Sid's observations were worthy of replication:
"It was one of those very special days in the English Channel when the tides and winds aligned to provide optimum conditions for crossing the most celebrated body of water in the world."
"However, no matter how favorable the conditions may appear to be in the Channel, you can never overstate the importance of several other items that are critical to any channel swimmer's success."
"Among those, a great pilot and crew are of paramount importance. To Petar's credit, there is no question this was a detail that was not overlooked. It could be argued that Michael Oram and his crew selcted not only the ideal course, but also an ideal departure time to take advantage of the advantageous conditions. This can be best evidenced upon inspection of Petar's chart (see left) and the incredibly straight line they were able to maintain."
"Certainly the conditions and the strength of the swimmer were major factors yet the way that Petar was drawn into the landing north of the lighthouse when a weak flood tide turned to the west is of special significance. A saavy boat captain wise to the ever-changing conditions of the world's most famous 'ditch' makes all the difference and on this day, Captain Oram proved to be all that and more for the Bulgarian."
"However, there was one more important element that keyed Petar's success that should not be overlooked - competition. This day was especially unique because in essence Petar was dueling with another of the world's greatest marathon swimmers, Yuri Kudinov of Russia. Because of a great rivalry and the unplanned competition, I believe Petar tapped into another level of adrenelin that racing a clock can never bring."
"In the end, Yuri landed a bit south of the lighthouse and was not able to replicate the tremendous finish that Stoychev and Oram teamed to perfection. A great swim nonetheless and, in my opinion, a major component in providing Petar with that extra push to permanently secure his place in aquatic history."
Photo and chart by Michael Oram.