60 seconds with Luke Birch


Where are you from?
I lived in London and went to Arnold House School with Jamie until I was 13. Then I moved to Lincolnshire with my family.

What are you doing at the moment?
I am a student at Edinburgh University studying for an MA in Human Geography.

What are your greatest sporting triumphs?
Beating Jamie in the 1500m when he had to stop (because of some nail injury!) At 18 I swam the English Channel solo. A year of training and on the day, 14.5 hours in cold water in just a pair of Budgy Smugglers!

How would other people describe you? 

I think people would say I have the best hair of anyone they know, a good sense of humour, and probably should have been born as a seal. Or maybe, an Orang-utan.

Who inspires you?
Martin Strel, a long distance swimmer, see ‘Big River Man’, Bear Grylls and most of all, Nick Adams, my school swimming coach who taught me so much.

Favourite saying?
Stop being a wimp.

What do you think you will miss most?
Jamie’s fridge at his house – ours is full with healthy rubbish. I’ll also miss being nagged by my mother! And I’ll miss having my friends to wind up! Jamie’s biggest challenge will be keeping his sanity with me!

Best piece of advice received so far?
During my channel swim preparation Nick Adams taught me to separate my mind from my body and let it take the strain of the immense physicality of the task at hand. You might as well let yourself think of fluffy clouds when your bum and hands are a field of blisters! How can complaining to yourself help?

What is your biggest fear?
Falling in and having to chokehold a shark.

What are you most looking forward to?
Being away from all the troublesome stuff like telephones, having to shut a door when I go for a number two, and wearing clothes. I don’t know why more people aren’t up for the row!

How would you describe Jamie?
Jamie is a big strong boy, and I have always found him to be the best of company. He will be a fast rower and I would trust him with my life!