Channel Swimmers

Greg Schofield

Swimmer Greg Schofield
Age 20
Home Weymouth
Country England
Date of Swim 20-21 August 1964
Start Time 12:25 pm
Swim Time 15 hours 35 minutes
Starting Point Shakespeare Beach, England
Finish Wissant, France
Monitoring Body Channel Swimming Association
Official Observer
Pilot (Boat) Reg Brickell
Club Weymouth Swimming Club
Coach Godfrey Chapman

Greg completed a number of swims in BLDSA championships while building up to his 1964 Channel swim:

In 1964 in training for his Channel swim, Greg completed an 18 mile swim in 12 hours.

The story of his Channel swim is recalled from Greg's own report which appeared in the 1965 BLDSA annual report:

20-21 August. Temperature 59-62F. Wind swinging to easterly, Force 4. Early Spring tides. Left Shakespeare beach 12:25 pm stroking 66 per minute for the first hour, raising to 72 per minute in the third hour when I stopped for the first feed, chicken, fruit juice, chocolate, glucose coffee, cold water. An hour later in the middle of the Channel about 10 miles off Blanc Nez, the chances of breaking a record looked good. Then came the long haul to get off Gris Nez before the tide started to sweep back up Channel. . . missed it and had to spend 8 hours swimming parallel with the coast, 3 miles off. As predicted, a strong wind blew up making the sea very rough, and consequently making me very sick, and unable to eat anything for the last 6 hours. I finally struggled ashore at 4 am, just below Wissant.

In 1965 Greg broke the 14-year-old record for the 20-mile "Weymouth to Lulworth Cove and Return" swim, with a time of 10:40. The inaugural record had been set by Godfrey Chapman in 1951 with a time of 10:50. Later in 1965, Greg's team mate, Philip Gollop, went on to reduce Greg's record by 5 minutes to 10:35.

Also in 1965, Greg competed in the 8-mile BLDSA sea-swim at Torbay. He finished 3rd in a time of 4:11:36. His colleague, Philip Gollop, finished 8th in a time of 4:45:58.

In 1966, Greg, Godfrey Chapman and Tom Watch organized a highly-successful first championship swim for the 10 mile course from Lulworth Cove to Weymouth.
In 1982, Greg was one of five swimmers from Weymouth who had successfully swam across The Channel. Shown in the photograph with the other four who were equally famous in their own right.

Left-to-Right: Mervin Sharp (Then King of the Channel with 7 crossings); Philip Gollop who was the youngest to cross the Channel with his 13:45 crossing in 1965; Jacqui Hampson who, with a time of 15:32, in 1982 became the youngest person to have swum across The Channel; Greg Schofield; Godfrey Chapman whose 13:02 made him the first Englishman to complete the Daily Mail race of 1951.

Interestingly, apart from being from Weymouth, all five swimmers had attended the same school.

Subsequent History for Greg
Greg worked in the building industry as a Contracts Manager until 1968, when a change of direction took him into politics as a Party Political Agent. In 1976 he went to university where he obtained a degree in History and, subsequently, trained as a teacher. From 1980, he worked as a History Teacher and Archivist at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford and has raised a family of three children. He obtained an MA in History from London University in 1985.

Greg's marathon swimming activities were shortened because of a hiatus hernia which caused severe sea-sickness. An operation failed to cure the problem and despite an attempted comeback he felt it was time to hang up his goggles. He did try piloting, but somehow it just wasn't the same and he reluctantly removed himself from the scene. He continued to play water polo until 1980, playing National League for Southampton and Yeovil. At university and at the Royal Grammar School, he became more heavily involved in the coaching of rugby and in 2005 continues to run teams and tours, although, with incipient old age, he conceded he was tending to take more of a back seat.

As with many of us from 1960's, Greg had an interest in Folk Music. I remember the two of us exiting the Torbay swim with a roaring chorus of South Australia, in our emulation of the Clancy Brothers. Although he still enjoyed folksy sorts of music in 2005, he had become disenchanted with the folk scene; he didn't like "being preached to by spotty youths with no experience of life but with answers to all the problems, no matter how complicated". . . this view is so characteristic of the single-minded nature of marathon swimmers and their view of life. In his early days, Greg was a banjo player and singer of some note; however, in the subsequent years, he moved to choral singing and light opera, taking the lead in a number of Gilbert & Sullivan productions and singing in the Three Choirs Festival. The folk singing and pub scene of his youth can, however, still lead to a certain amount of pub singing as it nears closing time on a weekend!

Material provided by Greg Schofield and BLDSA Annual Reports
with personal comments by Bryan Finlay.

Created: 20th March 2005
Last Updated: 19th April 2020