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BYU swim alumni Kurt Dickson conquers the English Channel

Kurt Dickson completed the swim of the English Channel on August 29, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Swimspire.com)

PROVO, Utah – BYU swim alumni Kurt Dickson conquered the English Channel this August at the age of 50. Dickson, a member of the BYU swim team from 1985-1989, is the second BYU swim alumni to complete the swim across the English Channel.

Dickson was a Western Athletic Conference finalist in the 500 freestyle his freshman and junior years. In 1987, Dickson received the Kimball Award as outstanding student athlete at BYU.

Originally from Englewood, Colorado, Dickson is now a resident of Glendale, Arizona. Of his four children, two of his daughters have recently been members of the BYU swim team.  Kelsey Dickson swam for BYU from 2008-2012 and Brenna Dickson swam from 2014-2016 but is currently serving an LDS mission in San Antonio, Texas.

The swim across the English Channel is a 21-mile trek in frigid water temperatures ranging from 57 degrees to 64 degrees Fahrenheit. On August 29, 2017, Dickson finished the swim in 10 hours and 23 minutes.

An excerpt from Dickson’s personal account can be found below.

“Despite ideal conditions, and family and friends 15 yards away in the boat, I have never felt so cold and alone as I did during the first 4 hours of that swim.  If I had not traveled such a great distance at great expense, I believe I would have thrown in the proverbial towel. It was SOOO COLD for this boy from Arizona.  However, there was a beautiful sunrise, and as soon as the sun came up, I began to feel better.  I was swimming on the port side but was asked to switch to starboard side to avoid the boat fumes.  As I was bilateral breathing, it did not seem to matter much.  It was soon after this that I was notified I was in French water.  I went from dejected to very confident that I was going to complete this in short order.  

I started to notice jellyfish around me, but avoided many of them.  I was finally struck with the inevitable jellyfish square over my mouth.  It hurt but I was confident I could take more hits, which fortunately never came.  The last 6 miles or so is a big challenge as you can see mirages in the distance of French soil.  My wife apparently made the cardinal mistake of telling me I had about 4.5 miles to go, but with shifting currents and variable landing places, that turned more into 8 miles or the equivalent time.  I do not feel that I slowed down but I was going pretty slow at the end (down from about 2 knots most of the way to closer to 1) and veered more from the boat.  Perhaps I was getting hypothermic or the currents were worse.  I sped up a few times near the end only to realize I was not as close as I thought.”

The rest of his account can be found at  http://www.swimspire.com/swimspire-stories-kurt-dickson-english-channel-swimmer/