Lorna Clarke, veterinary surgeon and owner of Pinfold Vets in East Leake, talks about her experience when she recently took part in a relay team swim of the English Channel.
On the 12th September 2021 I swam the English Channel as part of a 5 person-relay team. We left dry land behind and set off from Samphire Hoe at 3.48am and landed on Wissant beach in France 12 hours and 37 minutes later, after what can only be described as an amazing day and an absolutely fantastic crossing.
Our team (Team Brazil) was made up of 5 people, covering a range of ages and swimming backgrounds – but we all share one passion – and that is being in the water.
We spent 12 months training and have undertaken hours of sea-swimming, sometimes in very cold water temperatures, all to get ourselves ready to face this challenge.
We swam to raise money for a charity called Swim Tayka, a charitable organisation that teaches water stewardship and the life-saving skill of swimming to children in underdeveloped countries.
Two of us from the team are from East Leake, myself and Jonathon Saunders (a self-employed Electrical Engineer). I’ve always enjoyed undertaking various sporting challenges, but over the past few years these have become quite open water focused. Sea swimming was a whole new challenge though and living as far away from the coast as we do, both of us have spent time in Dover swimming in the harbour to get used to different weather and tide conditions.
John came quite late to the team. I asked him if he’d join us as we were one person short and needed another swimmer. Luckily, he agreed and somehow managed to get all his cold-water acclimatisation and training done in record time!
The day was all about team work. It was a very early start and we had one false start where we got all the way to the starting beach on the boat and then had to turn back due to high winds. We returned to the harbour and waited for the weather to settle, and luckily, just under an hour later, we were able to set off.
It was dark at first, and the very wavy sea made us all feel quite ill – but we knew that we had to look after each other and make sure that we were OK to take our turn swimming. By the time full daylight came, we were all doing much better and had a fantastic day. We each swam for an hour in turn and were delighted to land France soon after 12 hours of swimming, a crossing which was quicker than we expected.
Between us we’ve raised over £13,000 for Swim Tayka and have taken part in something truly remarkable.