Paul Robinson

Robbo's English Channel Swim

Fundraising for Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People
raised of £5,000 target
by 179 supporters
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In memory of Tim Agar
We are Rainbows Hospice, our mission is to support the children that need us most


UPDATE JULY 2020: Channel Swimming is a go!!! See blog at the bottom of this page for the latest updates :-)


UPDATE 6 OCTOBER 2019Many thanks to over 100 people who have sponsored me more than £2500 for Rainbows Children’s Hospice. 

I’m sorry to say that my Channel swim window 21-25 Sept was a complete blow out weather wise, and I’m absolutely gutted I’ve not been able to swim this season. I hung around in Dover waiting for a few days this week, contemplating a last ditch attempt to cross, in what would have been less than ideal conditions.

I accompanied a crossing attempt through Wednesday night, which unfortunately was unsuccessful; an American guy who is an extremely strong swimmer. He will be back even stronger, I’m certain!!

The following day I went for a sea swim on my own, to give myself time to think, and I watched the marine forecast change constantly which messed with my head some more. I’m impatient and haven’t enjoyed the waiting around.

The daylight hours continue to fade, the sea has cooled down and I’ve lost my head and focus. As this challenge is probably 80% in the head, 20% physical ability, I’ve called it quits for 2019, and I will continue my journey to swim the English Channel in summer 2020.

Thanks again for all the sponsorship. The hospice team are so very grateful for all the generous donations. This isn’t over...


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Rainbows is a local hospice for children and young people with life limiting conditions. I went to visit them recently to find out about the amazing work that they do and some of the projects to upgrade the facilities. The experience was truly grounding and emotional, they do incredible work and I want to raise as much money as possible for them. Please help me by giving a little to this great cause. Thank you!!


My apologies to friends, family & colleagues...

Those of you who know me well, know I like a crazy sporting challenge every year. So, I'll start off by apologizing for boring some of my best friends about marathons, ironmans, ultra's and channel relays swims for the last 10 years... you've put up with a lot!! Thank you for listening to my ridiculous stories, putting up with my random deafness in one ear, and supporting me.

FAQs: Why do I want to do this?

Swimming the English Channel solo has been a lifetime dream for me. I read about it as a child, and the draw for me is both the mental and physical challenge of achieving something that seems like you need to be super-human. I certainly am not, I like a beer and pizza as much as anyone.

The mental aspect of endurance sports interests me and I believe most people can achieve a lot more than they initially think they can. This is my ultimate mental challenge, as swimming in the sea for long period is very solitary, but I know that I train and race better when I set myself a stretch target. Also, the mental health benefits of doing sport day-to-day is a great reason. I get very grumpy when I don't exercise...

FAQs: How far is it across? Isn't it cold?

About 21 miles / 33km in a straight line, although the tide changes direction every 6 hours and moves up and down the channel, so this results in a S-shaped swim course (see picture), and consequently, the distance traveled is a lot further. 

The water temperature should be around 16.5degC when I swim. I'm not worried about the cold at all, as I have been acclimatizing since the beginning of the season, swimming 'skins' in water down to 11degC. That gave me shivers after training, but the result is that anything above 15degC now feels like a warm bath, relatively! Oh, did I also mention that no wetsuits are allowed due to Channel swimming rules and to uphold the history of the challenge. I’ve therefore allowed myself to put on over a stone in weight this year to help with buoyancy and warmth.

FAQs: How long will it take you?

I'm not sure, but this is part of the challenge, with changing winds, tides, weather and sea swell, I’m hoping it will be between 12 to 15 hours. For my swim-pace geek friends, I swim at about 4km an hour in the pool (1m30s per 100m), this translates to about 3km an hour for long sea swims, but this depends very much on the conditions. I also need to factor feeding time in, as I plan to stop and tread water every hour to eat high calorie foods. The channel swim rules state that you are not allowed to touch the support boat, or you will be disqualified by the official observer.  

FAQs: Are there sharks and jellyfish in the Channel?

I don't think there's any sharks that will eat humans in the Channel. At least, I hope not! Jellyfish are the bigger issue and depending on the weather you can see a lot of them during training swims. During the Torbay 8 mile swim race that I did earlier this year, I saw (and dodged) maybe a dozen jellyfish that were about 30-50cm diameter, floating just below the surface. As long as they aren't on the surface, I've become more comfortable at swimming over them. They don't move fast! The small stings that I've had in training haven't been that bad, so as long as I don't swim head first into one on the day, I think I’ll be ok. 

FAQs: What day will you attempt to swim the Channel?

My pilot will give me 12-24 hours notice to travel to Dover. Hopefully if the weather is good (low wind speed) my attempt will be between 3-9th August 2020. Due to missing my preferred neap tide in 2019, I had to accept a spring tide for 2020, where the tides move relatively faster. The spring tide might make this a little more of a challenge, but I want to get this done now and move on. I've used this same pilot for 2 previous Channel relay swims, so I will be putting my full trust in his knowledge and many years experience, to pick the best day for my attempt and safely land me in France.

FAQs: Is it difficult to train for such a challenge?

Those of you who know me well, know that I've had ear problems for the last few years (PARDON!?!?), so I took the decision to take some time off swimming events in 2017-18, and got my ear operated on / fixed, before I began proper training in January 2019. Since January, I've hit training hard, as I didn't have any residual endurance in my arms from the 2018 season.

Through the winter I trained with TFN triathlon club in Nottingham, building speed and improving technique with the help of Coaches Mel, Julie and Jo. They have been amazing and I'm swimming the fastest times of my life, 5min 20sec for 400m. As the weather improved and it got to May time, the local lakes open and I can swim for up to 4 hours with local clubs at Barton Marina (Derby Tri), Lavender patch, Colwick country park lake, and more recently Holme Pierrepont wake boarding lake has opened to swimmers.

As the year progressed, I have done less in the pool and more open water sessions, as it's very different swimming in open water. At weekends I've traveled with my head coach (my dad!) to Windermere, Dover, Torbay etc to do long swims of typically between 4-8 hours. 

So far this year, I’ve swam 611km / 378miles. If I take away weeks of holiday and business travel where training was difficult, I’ve averaged about 25km a week swimming, with my biggest week being 40km. I’ve topped up my swim training with rowing, running and weights in the gym, targeting 10hrs of total exercise a week.

However, the biggest challenge has been fitting all of this around work and family life. My wife, Louise, and two daughters Isabelle and Felicity have been amazing and supportive. I’m very lucky and grateful for this. I have managed to do some of my recovery swim sessions with my older daughter Issy (9), and she is getting faster and faster. That has been great fun!

Thanks for reading my story so far, I'm heading up to Windermere for hopefully a 10 hour swim tomorrow, weather permitting. My dad and my brother are coming to support me, and the main aim is to practice feeding in the water, as quickly as possible, as this will be very important so not to waste too much time on the big day.


Paul (Robbo) Robinson

About the charity

As the East Midlands’ only hospice for children and young people, we brighten the short lives of babies, children and young people who come to Rainbows. We want them to have fun and make special memories. We are also here to support their loved ones through the most difficult times of their lives.

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