Ferry firm in Channel swimming call
Published 01/11/2010 | 13:39
A ferry company has called for better regulation of cross-Channel swimmers because the endurance sport is growing so quickly.
DFDS, which runs a service from Dover to Dunkirk, said the rise in the number of those crossing the Channel was raising safety concerns.
The company wants the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to take over the running of the swims in the world's busiest shipping lane from two organisations, the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CS&PF) and the Channel Swimming Association.
On a BBC Inside Out programme to be shown on Monday night, French coastguards also said they would like to see the activity banned.
But the CS&PF said the activity was already well-regulated and safe, with no incidents in 140 years, and that "safety comes first, second and third".
It is thought about 266 swimmers crossed the Channel in the period from late June to early October this year - a large rise on previous years.
The French stopped attempts starting from their coast 17 years ago but allow British swims of the 21 miles separating the two countries to land.
DFDS passenger director Chris Newey said: "We do not want to pour cold water on what can be a fundraising activity.
"However, our first and foremost priority is the health and safety and welfare of those at sea.
"We are concerned these crossings are unregulated and growing. We would like to see it regulated by the MCA."