Indeed, there are groups of year-round swimmers, often affectionately referred to as 'polar bears' who brave the cold water day in, day out. They build up a resistance to the normal cold water immersion shock, and tend not to have the natural bodily reaction of shivering after the swim.
BUT.... These polar bears tend to enjoy the 'feel good' factor generated by a short, sharp swim. Most of the sites I can find tend to talk about 'dips' in the water of 10 or 20 minutes. Some 'hardened' swimmers even state they can last up to 30 minutes. Because like it or not, the longer you are in the cold water, the deeper the chill will set. Once your core starts to cool, the end of your swim is nigh.
So, you have to insulate. In addition to acclimatisation, the core has to be protected. It needs a layer of subcutaneous fat around the body. And further to this, with an anticipated weight loss during an average Channel swim of four to five kilograms, my body will need a ready supply of quickly accessible energy, necessary both to keep warm, and to keep moving.
I'm not sure what my current body/fat ratio is. But whatever it is, I know it's far from sufficient.
So after years of constantly fighting any bulge, I now have to begin to consciously pile the pounds on, whilst simultaneously ensuring my fitness level increases as I get closer to the swim.
Kebab and gym, anyone?