Channel Swim safety concerns raised

Rising numbers of cross-Channel swims have prompted calls by a ferry service to have the activity regulated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). According to DFDS, which operates between Dover and Dunkirk, for safety reasons the swims need to be better regulated better the 21-mile stretch, which is also the world's busiest shipping lane. The endurance sport is currently monitored by the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CS&PF) and the Channel Swimming Association. Between late June and early October this year around 266 swimmers are believed to have crossed the Channel - a huge increase over previous years. 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." But the CS&PF insisted that the attempts are well-regulated and that "safety comes first, second and third". It pointed out that no safety incidents have been reported in 140 years. French authorities banned Channel swimming attempts from their side 17 years ago, but continue to permit British swims to finish on their shores. On the BBC Inside Out programme to be shown on Monday night, French coastguards said they would like to see the activity stopped.

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