Imagine jumping into 13 degree C water, wearing only a pair of speedos and a set of goggles. Behind you is Dover and ahead, approximately 22 - 30 miles away, lies Cap Gris Nez, France. After swimming through the pitch black of night; coping with strong tides; hordes of jellyfish and fields of seaweed, you will emerge victorious having swum the English Channel. However, the task then extends to the return leg as we are doing a two way crossing and have to swim back to England.
A team comprising Jamie Goodhead (c), Steve McMenamin, Graham Lock, Richard Arthur & Tim Fraser from two of the great Sussex clubs Mid Sussex Triathlon Club and the Mid Sussex Marlins, came together to face exactly this challenge. Having trained in the sea since the end of January they built up their tolerance to cold water, adapted to the presence of strong tides and dealt with sea life, sharp pebbles and other sundry hazards.
One of the team member, Steve stated "I didn't start swimming because I wanted to cross the Channel. Originally, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and took up triathlons to maintain a healthy lifestyle."
At 05.55 on Thursday 14th July and under the team name 'Swims Both Ways', their exciting journey began. After a choppy start, the wind dropped and the swell abated and after 9 hours and 57 mins they landed in France. Then, immediately upon landing they turned to embark upon the return leg. In the absolute pitch blackness of the channel overnight, it took another 11 hours to swim back; completing 54 miles in total. Delightfully, they discovered that no other 5 man team had gone faster.
Steve acknowledged the support he received along the way from family, team mates and training partners from the Mid Sussex Triathlon and Marlins clubs who helped me him brave water temperatures as cold as 7 degrees in preparation for the swim. "The right support will get you far, to France and back to be exact!". He completed the challenge as part of a series of events to raise some much needed cash for Teenage Cancer Trust. To help support this incredibly worthwhile cause or to help the charities supported by other team members, you can donate on the sites below:
- Teenage Cancer
- Mid Sussex Marlins Swimming Club
- The Multiple Sclerosis Society