A tragic end to Pa'raic Casey's English Channel swim this weekend.
For example, despite the massive knowledge accrued over the past 100 years regarding OW swims in the English Channel where safety plans and implementations are second-to-none, sometimes it just happens.
since inception, the risk for soloists seems to be about 1 in 300 crossings (6 per 1700)
in 'modern times', the risk seems to be about the same, 1 in 290 crossings (4 per 1160)
one could argue that the risk is about half of that, or 1 in 600 attempts, because the success rate ballparks somewhere around 50%. a better stat might be risk per "hour in the channel", or risk according to "hour into the swim".
number of crossings:
since 1985: 1160 = 171 + 592 + 255 + 142
2010's: 171 = 77 + 94
2000's: 592 = 92 + 87 + 83 + 64 + 75 + 44 + 52 + 42 + 28 + 25
1990's: 255 = 25 + 23 + 32 + 25 + 27 + 39 + 22 + 28 + 13 + 21
1980's: 241 = 28 + 38 + 36 + 21 + 19 + 18 + 25 + 22 + 19 + 15
Like any extreme sport, Channel swimming has risks attached to it, and over the years seven swimmers have died while attempting the swim.
1926 Rodriguez de Lara
Rodriguez de Lara, from Spain, was believed to have become the first person to drown while making a Channel swim attempt.
1954 Edward J May
On 8 September 1954, lone Englishman Edward J May is reported to have set off from Cap Gris Nez to swim to England, but without a pilot boat and against official advice. His body was found weeks later washed up in Holland.
1984 Kumar Anandan
Sri Lankan swimmer Kumar Anandan, 36, died while making his attempt. At the subsequent inquest, Coroner Richard Sturt recommended that anyone making an attempt to swim the Channel should produce a fitness certificate. Since then all swimmers have been told they must produce a medical certificate.
1988 Renata Agondi
Brazilian swimmer Renata Agondi, 25, from San Paulo, died on 23 August 1988 about eight miles off the French coast while swimming from Dover. There had been a dispute on board the escort ship about who had the final responsibility for ending a swim. As a result, guidelines were drawn up setting down a chain of command, ensuring that the pilot was the person who made the final decision about whether a swimmer should remain in the water.
1999 Fausta Marin Moreno
Mexican swimmer Fausta Marin Moreno drowned during a swim from England to France on 20 August 1999.
2001 Ueli Staub
On 11 August 2001, Swiss swimmer Ueli Staub, 37, disappeared from view when he was about a mile off the French coast having swum for 16 hours from Dover. His body was found six days later, in the sea near Ostende.
2012 Páraic Casey
Páraic Casey, a member of the Sandycove Swimming Club in Cork, Ireland began his swim at 9.13am on Saturday 21 July 2012 and became ill at around 1:30 in the morning of 22 July 2012, just 1km from the coast of France. Attempts to resuscitate him by crew on the boat and medics flown in by a French rescue helicopter were unsuccessful.
Last edited by geog; August 11th, 2012 at 11:19 PM.
A tragic end to Pa'raic Casey's English Channel swim this weekend.
Geog, if I may point out a flaw in your analysis… You are basing your statistics on the number of successful crossings. I would suggest that your denominator should be total attempts and not total successful swims. In the early days of channel swimming attempts there was a 2% - 5% success rate. I believe the current success rate is significantly higher than this.
And while every open water casualty and fatality, is a significant event in and of itself, I believe it is important to use valid statistics when reporting on these.
Last edited by Rob Copeland; July 23rd, 2012 at 02:45 PM.
What happened with Paraic Casey is tragic, but it is still unknown what caused his death. Much more troubling are incidents when a person's life may be potentially at risk because people involved in the swim don't respond to what are clear signs that the swimmer is in severe distress.
In Paraic's case it isn't clear that either the crew or the pilot did something wrong, or that they didn't do everything they should have. However, people should not speculate in the absence of facts.
Last edited by E=H2O; December 5th, 2012 at 09:29 PM.
Rob - if i understand you correctly, i think you might want to re-read my post because i was already one step ahead of you and addressed your complaints before you even made them.
My off the record knowledge is that the current success rate is significantly higher than 50%, but ironically somewhat lower than it was before EC's became 'popular'. Supposedly, the success rate has fallen somewhat in recent years due to an influx of people wanting an EC for bragging rights, or so i've been told in uncertain terms.Originally Posted by geog
Regardless, as a ballpark figure, i maintain 50% is a valid number for all attempts over the past 100 years. Consider Des Renford who had 19 ECs in 19 attempts (who suffered two heart attacks while swimming alone during training swims in Australia. All that, only to die while swimming in a pool with lifeguards present).
For what it is worth, contrary to what you maintained:
For someone who is determined to make as many attempts as necessary in order to finally succeed, the 'per crossing' rate (about 1 in 300) is a highly relevant stat, perhaps the most relevant stat given the available data. It is also highly relevant for someone who's personal success rate is high and is working to accrue a large number ECs. Of course both the determined and the accruing swimmers may be outliers among the overall population of swimmers having made an attempts. Or more importantly, the historical 6 may be outliers among the overall population, for example, i would think wearing a wetsuit is quite unusual, be it out of need or out of personal preference.
It's up to the EC community, and more generally the 'long distance' ow community, to be forthcoming with the inconvenient data by publishing data on all attempts (as well as successes), and case-reports on all aborts, long-term injuries, and all incidents, such as being run over by one's escort boat. Those case-reports can be de-personalized to protect the ego's of the swimmers, so i don't buy loneswimmer's justification of witholding that data for reason of privacy. I might also note that as late as last year, neither the CSA nor CS&PF had on their websites this data:
Or if they did have it, I couldn't find it. The only place it was available as of last year was dover.uk.com/channelswimming. That data is now available on the CS&PF website at the bottom of this page:
and brushed off here:
back on topic to your reply Rob, note that i also suggested two additional stats:As the saying goes, "a winner fails many times, a loser fails only once". People fail for a variety of reasons. Sadly some people have lost their lives. People succeed too, but always remember what Capt Webb said: "Nothing great is easy".
Originally Posted by geog
Last edited by geog; July 24th, 2012 at 02:28 PM.
Try http://cspf.co.uk/channel-facts/I might also note that as late as last year, neither the CSA nor CS&PF had on their websites this data:
Or if they did have it, I couldn't find it
That website, cspf.co.uk, came into existence within the past year (registered 2011-03-14 per whois database). Since the new website was designed and developed by a group of Math PhDs and similar (Riskpoint), I suspect the new cspf president, also a mathematician, had something to do with the new site.Originally Posted by geog
Last edited by geog; July 24th, 2012 at 04:26 PM.
thanks evmo. without ever having posted on that other forum, i've lurked there quite a bit. great resource by the way, thanks!
Like that site, and like swimclub.co.uk, registration here on the usms forum is cost-free and open to the general public, so anyone who might want to comment on my posts is really free to do so here at their leisure. Loneswimmer, whom i referenced above, follows this forum, or at least used to post here.
My sense of the available data is that an attempt at an EC (or similar ow swim) would far and away be the most risky undertaking that the swimmer would undertake in their entire life.
Everest is more dangerous ....
... but not that much more considering the security of modern life.
With their new website, CS&PF has taken a commendable (from my standpoint) step forward by including the historical 7 on their site. I'd like to see more inconvenient data published and think the ow community in general and potential aspirants especially would benefit as well by seeing it early on in their accumulation of EC knowledge.
In a post above, I quoted a paragraph from CS&PF that dismisses the risk. I'd like to see CS&PF replace that paragraph with something akin to a statement by the BMJ paper's lead author Firth, an experienced mountaineer himself:
Back to your original point evmo .... I agree that a discussion developed around risk could be interesting. For example, is it moral/ethical for a charity to enter into a fundraising partnership with an extremely high-risk endeavor? But without having the inconvenient data published ahead of time, my guess is that a discussion of risk would degrade into a series of opinion statements and political hedging, especially if not started by a highly regarded leader of the OW community. Maybe someone in the executive ranks of the CS&PF will start such a thread on that other site."The majority of those who have died on Everest were in the prime of their lives, with families and friends left bereft," stresses Firth, who is an instructor in Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School. "Mountaineering is for fun; it's not worth dying [for] or leaving others there to die. Appropriate caution is the hallmark of the elite mountaineer – the mountain will always be there next year."
if the risk exceeded the charity's tolerance when assessed by any one of various methods, then for the charity to enter into a fundraising partnership seems, to me, ethically questionable. it'd be interesting to learn how big-name charities assess and constrain fund raising proposals involving high-risk endeavors.
Last edited by geog; August 8th, 2012 at 01:15 AM.
Maybe not for a record but, a personal best ??
There are two groups that currently "certify" an EC crossing. The "Channel Swimming Association" is the oldest, and adhers to the traditional "suit only" no insulated cap rule. The other group, who's name escapes me, "certifies" swims of all types, I believe they even have a catagory for kayaks.
Having escorted not one but two successful crossings, I was impressed by the emphesis on safety. The key I believe would be to have an experienced pilot and observer for your swim. We should wait and see what was the cause of this last fatality, before we angst about the safety of the swim.
God Bless America
i've no argument with that. here again is the first paragraph from the initial post: "... despite the massive knowledge accrued over the past 100 years regarding OW swims in the English Channel where safety plans and implementations are second-to-none, sometimes it just happens."Having escorted not one but two successful [EC] crossings, I was impressed by the emphesis on safety.
if a swimmer wants their EC crossing to be recognized/certified, then they need to choose a boat/pilot and an observer who are each certified by the CSA or the CS&PF (i'm also pretty sure that it is only CSA/CS&PF sanctioned swims for which the governing maritime agencies will grant permission to cross the shipping lanes, and for which France will grant permission to enter their waters and to come ashore on their coast) ... so your statement begs the question: are you saying that the CSA/CS&PF are certifying pilots and observers who are actually incompetent?The key I believe would be to have an experienced pilot and observer for your swim.
until thorough data on all EC attempts (including the historical-6) are made public and the subsequent analysis completed, the logical approach is for a swimmer to assume that they are just as vulnerable as the historical record suggests, and that risk is 1-in-300 or 1-in-600 of not surviving the next ~15 hours.We should wait and see what was the cause of this last fatality, before we angst about the safety of the swim.
Of course even then, a swimmer still has the right to believe that they are special, that "it just won't to happen to me".
It's also worth pointing out that regardless of how empowered a swimmer may feel, without an escort boat, the swimmer's chance of living through the next ~15 hours is less than 1-in-2 (because about 1/2 of the swimmers get on the boat before getting back on land) ... likely much, much less, maybe even drastically less, because the escort boat aids the swimmer with nutrition, weather and water-current monitoring, wind-chop mitigation, general navigation, shipping-lane navigation, etc...
I suspect that the EC data applies to other big swims, such as the Catalina Channel, so the thread title is simply "risk" (as opposed to "EC risk"), and the initial post starts with "For example, ..."
Last edited by geog; September 6th, 2012 at 02:50 PM.
Wow! you are way way out there. The first quote from my post that you noted.....all I was saying is I, thats Me, was impressed with the safety standards, just making an observation. The second quote had NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH THE QUALITY OF THE TWO ASSOCIATIONS BOATS/PILOTS OR OBSERVERS. You sure like to stir up trouble dont you?
God Bless America
dittoThe first quote from my post that you noted.....all I was saying is I, thats Me, was impressed with the safety standards, just making an observation.
I think nearly all channel swimmers have a high regard for the two organizations and their pilots and their observers.The second quote had NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH THE QUALITY OF THE TWO ASSOCIATIONS BOATS/PILOTS OR OBSERVERS.
on the otherhand, by having proposed "the key", you seem to question their competency, that some are not sufficiently safe, that it is "key" to make the correct selection among the certified pool of pilots and observers, some of which are not safe by your assessment.
maybe i mistook what you meant by 'key' in the context of risk, or maybe you didn't write what you intended to say.
Last edited by geog; September 6th, 2012 at 03:59 PM.
>In Paraic's case it isn't clear that either the crew or the pilot did something wrong, or that they didn't do everything they should have.
Let me be categorical:
It IS absolutely clear that neither pilot nor crew did anything wrong... And that they everything they could and should following the tragedy.
And Geog, I don't give a toss what you think any of Paraic's friends or family owes some anonymous internet person about the details of his death.
I made that statement because I didn't (and still don't) have the information necessary to draw any conclusion on what happened - and have not ventured to do so. I think people often come to conclusions without sufficient information, and the truth would be better served if more questions were asked and answered before any conclusions are reached. I do think it would be helpful if marathon swimming community had access to better information, that way it could better assess the risks in the sport and how we might learn from prior swims.
I often compare marathon swimming with mountaineering because they share a number of similarities. After a climber dies many questions can arise in the climbing community. Sometimes upon later reflection the death could have been avoided and sometimes it could not. Sometimes the examination of the climbing accident yields information that future climbers can use to minimize future risks on the climbs, sometimes it does not.
Often an investigation (when one is held) can be emotionally difficult for team members and their family for many different reasons. But surely if the outcome of the inquiry helps to prevent future deaths it is worth it. However, this is not to suggest that all people on a climb want the story of a lethal accident to be told - and for many reasons. Sometimes it's just because they believe nothing good can become of it; and sometimes the're right.
Last edited by E=H2O; December 5th, 2012 at 09:31 PM.
It has been brought to my attention that someone could wrongfully misconstrue my prior posts as intended, by implication or otherwise, to be a statement on specific events surrounding the tragic death of Paraic Casey. They were never meant to be and should not be considered as such. To suggest otherwise would be a disservice to all concerned especially to the family and friends of Paraic. My sole interest has always been the big picture question of how do we assess risk in the sport, and what can we do to reduce it. As my friends know, if I have something to say I will say it directly. Argument through innuendo is for the obtuse.
In addition, my opinion that there are similarities between the sport of mountaineering and channel swimming is not based on any highly publicized mountaineering tragedy. Rather, it was based on my personal experience as a former member of the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group and on a decade of experience climbing in the mountains of Colorado and Alaska.