Student Joins Elite Group after Swimming the English Channel

This summer Adam Grimm joined an elite group of athletes. On July 24, he swam the 23 mile solo swim across the English Channel in 12.5 hours. Since 1875, just over 1,300 swimmers have successfully made this solo crossing.

In the world of endurance swimming, crossing the English Channel is a prestigious accomplishment. It is often considered the Mt. Everest of swimming, Grimm said. If you compare the two, Mt. Everest has had around 4,000 successful climbs, but only 1,317 swimmers have successfully completed the swim across the channel from England to France.

“I trained for three years,” Grimm said. “The biggest challenge I faced was finding a place to train.”

He went to Polk County and worked with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to train at the lake located in Big Creek State Park. The other challenge was training to swim in cold water. He had to gain weight to stay warm and he practiced in temperatures as low as 45 degrees. The temperature of the channel water when he crossed was 61.7 degrees.  

Grimm is a senior in horticulture with a secondary major in German and minors in Russian and history. He gave up a full-time job to go back to school at 29 years old and plans to pursue his master’s and doctorate degrees. When he was a senior in high school he gave up competitive swimming and struggled with depression. Now he wants to share his story about overcoming problems and working toward goals.

“I’m not looking for fame, for medals or for money,” Grimm said. “I enjoy learning and want to share my story to help others.”