If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 1 November 2010

Webb, Spinning

From the Guardian.

I used to think the people who swam the English Channel were brave but essentially harmless nutters who got a team of supporters together, slathered themselves in Vaseline and then jumped in and headed for France in the company of a small boat full of sandwiches and Thermoses of hot soup. And why not? The sea is everybody's, isn't it? They don't charge you for using it, so they? You don't need a licence to swim, do you?

Well, apparently a lot of people think you should, and some want to ban it altogether.

Ferry company DFDS think there should be "stronger regulations on cross-Channel swimming" because too many people now undertake the feat. They want the activity to be regulated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, instead of the current official oversight by the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation and the Channel Swimming Association. Presumably, they want the activity 'regulated', not out of concern for the swimmers' safety but because the swimmers get in the way of the ferries and disrupt their timetables. They are inconvenient. If there was a memo that said that Danish companies had a right to stop British people swimming in the open sea in their own waters, than I must have missed it.

The French coastguard want to go further - they want the swim to be banned altogether. There is no reason given, but I imagine it is along the lines of "for their own good" - pour leur propre bon, or something. Oh, hang on - that might not be right.

Dr Bradshaw, who has raised thousands of pounds for charities by swimming across the Channel on numerous occasions, added that the CSA had been in contact with the French Coastguard and said that its comments in the documentary had been misunderstood.

"I'm of the understanding that the French Coastguard did not say it wanted a ban on cross-channel swims, but rather on unauthorised swims, which would be quite right."

So we have a ferry operator calling for tighter regulation for commercial reasons, a coastguard possibly calling for a ban, and the CSA saying this is all wrong, and what should be banned are only the unauthorised swims.

"Our pilots are second to none, the health and safety measure [sic*] all swimmers have to take is rigourous [sic*], and there are no accidents, so I don't know what this proposal is based on."
It's an outrage! People should be free to be regulated by us! They should be filling in our risk assessments! It's not fair!

Personally, I think swimming the Channel is a remarkable achievement, and if you want to do it, you go right ahead. All that hot air from the arguing over whether you can do it and who regulates you if you do will keep you afloat while you slip past under their noses and head for Calais.

* The Grauniad keps trditoin aliave, I sea.

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