A group of Watford-based teenagers is celebrating completing a channel swim, after making the crossing in 9 hours, 40 minutes and 29 seconds, and raising over £11,400 for Rennie Grove Peace in the process.
The relay swim took place on Monday 2 October, with the team starting the swim at 02.15am in complete darkness.
First in the water was Sam, aged 15. He started from the beach and made a strong start to the team’s relay attempt, despite water temperatures around 17°C. Next up was Prisha, aged 15, who continued in the pitch black. She handed over to Will, aged 14, who furthered their amazing progress and got well away from England. Felipe, aged 13, was next in the dark before Barney, aged 15, swam through the sunrise. Megan, aged 14, had lots of jelly fish for company and the huge wake from cargo ships to contend with.
The swimmers were aiming for Cap Gris Nez, the closest point to England, in order to achieve the quickest time. Due to the spring tide, they knew that the current around the Cap would be fast and they needed to get close before the tide turned, to avoid being swept back towards England.
Each of the young swimmers took on one-hour swims in rotation, wearing only a standard swimming costume, swim hat and googles, as per the Channel Swimming Association rules. The team was joined on board their support boat by an official from the Channel Swimming Association who is responsible for verifying the attempt.
The youngest member of the team, 13-year-old Felipe, jumped into the water at around 11.15am for the start of the 10th hour of the swim, with land in France visible on the horizon. Despite a number of large jellyfish in this stretch of the water, he fought hard against a turning tide to reach land on Cap Gris Nez, on the French coast at around 11.54.
"On the day of the swim, the team bond they’ve developed was really important. They were all cheering each other on and encouraging their teammates in the water, to get to that end point together."
The swim had been a long time coming, with the team training since April in lakes and the sea to acclimatise. An earlier booked crossing for 20 September this year was unable to go ahead due to weather conditions and the team had been anxiously awaiting a call about a rescheduled swim.
Jeremy Irvine, Vicechair of Watford Swimming Club and open water swimming coach, said:
“I am so proud of everything that this team of young swimmers has achieved. Training in open water for the whole spring and summer has seen them build up real resilience and confidence. They have grown as a team during the training and are a real inspiration to the younger swimmers who are coming up through the club.
When we decided to use the challenge to fundraise for Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care, we set a target of raising £5,000. To have exceeded that and raised over £11,000 is absolutely amazing. I’d like to thank everybody at the club and in our community who has supported this effort, as well as the swimmers and their families for their unwavering dedication to making this challenge such a huge success.”
Gemma Norris, Community Fundraising Manager at Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care, says:
“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the support of our incredible fundraisers in the community. When I first heard about this challenge I was blown away by the dedication and commitment that this group of young people showed to training for their challenge. To have raised such an incredible amount of money on top of that, is just phenomenal. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the whole team for taking on this challenge and raising such a fantastic amount of money to support our work with local patients and families living with a life-limiting condition.”
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