This list of the escort pilots recognized and inducted by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame is below and is updated annually.
Reg and Ray have served as English Channel pilots under the guidance of their father Reg over the course of four decades – together the three combined for 298 solo crossing by the end of 2018. Ray started work with his father at the age of 16 in 1970 and his brother also started at the age of 16 years, 3 years earlier. In 1981, they took over the running of the boat from their father. On average, the brothers take up to 30 swimmers each season across the English Channel, including escorts for several world record swims. Like their father, they remain very involved with the Channel Swimming Association.
Reg and Ray have served as English Channel pilots under the guidance of their father Reg over the course of four decades – together the three combined for 298 solo crossing by the end of 2018. Reg started work with his father at the age of 16 in 1967 and his brother also started at the age of 16 years, 3 years later. In 1981, they took over the running of the boat from their father. On average, the brothers take up to 30 swimmers each season across the English Channel, including escorts for several world record swims. Like their father, they remain very involved with the Channel Swimming Association.
For 30 years until his death in 1982, Brickell was one of the most successful English Channel pilots. He piloted 83 solo swims of which 39 were successful. He also took 12 one-way relays and the first two-way relay, all of which were successful. Among those he piloted into the record books were Penny Dean, Helge Jensen, Tina Bischoff and Lynne Cox. He was also the pilot for most of Des Renford’s King of the Channel® swims and taught his sons Reg Brickell, Jr. and Ray Brickell the trade. Both of his sons are also honoree pilots in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF), an outstanding tribute and legacy for the family and the sport.
Charlie Gravett was the escort pilot from 1987 to 2015 for the Jersey Long Distance Swimming Association (IMSHOF Honor Organization) – in the Channel Islands (near Normandy France).
While other pilots were involved in a few of the trips, Charlie piloted more than 90% of the swims to date. Around the Island of Jersey 41 miles (66 km); more than 80 successful solo swims; more than 40 successful relay swims; Jersey to France 16 miles (26 km) – more difficult course due to the tides.
During these trips, Charlie and ALL CREWS act in a volunteer capacity TOTALLY – with all swim funds used by the JLDSC to promote open water swimming in Jersey, especially amongst children. One benefit is that 25 Jersey residents have completed 32 English Channel solo crossings (including one 2 way so far!) – very impressive for an Island with a population less than 95,000 people.
Captain Hutchinson was one of the best English Channel pilots and is remembered for his skill as a navigator and his kind and considerate manner, no matter how long the crossing took. He piloted more than 100 Channel swims for swimmers from over the world, including Brazil, Pakistan, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Iceland, Argentina, Mexico, Spain and Belgium, over 70 of which are chronicled in his diaries.
He piloted many record-breaking English Channel swims including the crossing of Brojan Das in the 1958 Bultin Race, the 1959 crossing of Abilio Couto in an England-to-France record of 12 hours and 49 minutes, the 1961 crossing of Dorothy Perkins in the earliest date the English Channel had ever been swum in 20 hours and 26 minutes, the 1961 crossing of Rosemary George, the 1961 crossing of Margaret White, then the youngest ever to swim from England to France, Brojan Das’ record crossing from France to England in 10 hours and 35 minutes, Kevin Murphy’s double-crossing and the 1971 double-crossing relay record in 35 hours and 10 minutes.
Right Hon. Captain William Long OBE was a great Irish (North) Channel pilot who helped keep North Channel swimming going during the period of the 1950’s and 1960’s when many great swimmers tried crossing from Northern Ireland to Scotland.
During the ill-fated attempt by Jason Zirganos, he tried to revive the Greek major. Bill piloted Kevin Murphy’s 1970 and 1971 crossings of the Irish Channel when he devised the course which brought success despite there are islands off the coast where the tide runs three hours one way and nine hours the other.
Michael is a Qualified Royal Yachting Association / Department of Trade Yachtmaster with commercial endorsement. He began escorting swimmers in the English Channel in 1982 and served as a Channel Swimming Association committee member for 15 years before he became the Honorary Secretary between 1991 and 1996.
Michael was one of the founding members of the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation in 1998. He helped set up the Federation, its documentation, rules and constitution and obtained Government recognition and governing body status as its Honorary Secretary in 1999.
His English Channel website is comprehensive in its scope and he has influenced the method in which English Channel swims are planned.
To date, Michael has escorted over 500 English Channel crossings with a 75% success rate. His successes include two of the three triple-crossings (Philip Rush in 1987 in 28 hours and 21minutes and Alison Streeter in 1990 in 34 hours and 40 minutes), the only relay quadruple-crossing (Sun Rice Australia in 1993 in 43 hours and 7 minutes), the only Belgium-to-England relay (RAF Air Force in 1995 in 27 hours and 56 minutes).
For 45 years The Pittmans served as key pilots for Catalina Channel swims. Mickey Pittman’s first Catalina swimmer was David Cox in September 1972 (solo swimmer number 27) with the original “OUTRIDER”. John, at age 13 assisted on the swim.
The 1970s saw 25 solos and no relays with the Pittmans piloting many of these swimmers including IMSHOF honorees: Lynne Cox, John York, Penny Lee Dean and David Yudovin.
John received his Captain’s license in 1978 and began piloting with “WILD WAVE”. Catalina Channel swimming started to really take off in the mid 1980s and Micky continued for 15 more years before retiring in the late 1990s.
John christened the new “OUTRIDER” in late 2006 and piloted 17 swimmers in 2007. During the years 2011 to 2015 he escorted 30+ swimmers a year. In his final year, 2016, John had 44 days of swimming booked.
The Pittmans were involved in many “first” solos and relay swims – helping to set the groundwork for the future Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara. San Clemente and Coronado Islands.
2016 marks the end of an era – Mickey passed away, and it’s John’s final year as a pilot.
Duncan has been a Channel Swimming Association pilot since 1992 and the Channel Swimming Association Secretary and Safety Officer from 1996 to 2004. He is responsible for the training of new escort pilots and is the Liaison Officer for the Regulatory Authorities.
He successfully pioneered new starting places for English Channel swims that are now used consistently by other pilots, helping swimmers to achieve faster times. He piloted 64 swims including the crossing of Joe Smith, the second oldest person, and Michael Read’s 33rd crossing.
Dave piloted the first six-way English Channel relay that took 61 hours and 27 minutes. He retired after 25 years of piloting from 1984 to 2008. During this time he piloted 305 English Channel swimmers (83 solo crossings) from 32 different countries. He piloted a breaststroke solo in 23 hours and 55 minutes and a number of disabled swimmers, paraplegic and multi-amputees, on both solo and relay swims. He has piloted Eric Johnson on his France-to-England record and both Michael Read and Kevin Murphy when they achieved their respective King of the Channel® successes.