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Sunday, 7 August 2016

Tom's Channel Relay Swim

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Tom Chamberlain from Milford on Sea was part of a small team of swimmers who embarked on a Channel Relay Swim from Dover to France on Saturday 30th July 2016.

Although 21 miles in a straight line, the tide dictates a large ‘S’ shape curve that is ultimately and unavoidably followed and consequently the distance is more like 40 miles in length. Whilst big swells were present, conditions were generally favourable and Team Tiger Fish completed the iconic swim, wearing just swimming trunks and goggles (no wetsuits allowed) in just over 13 hours.

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“I have wanted to swim the English Channel for many years now”, said Tom “and have had a pot of Goose Fat sat in the house as a half joke/half incentive. To be part of a small team of like-minded swimmers made the challenge less of a lonely experience, although still an incredibly physical and mentally challenging one.” Tom’s intensive training involved swimming several times a week, often in sea temperatures of only just over ten degrees and night swimming in the darkness of Milford on Sea.

Swimming the English Channel is considered by many to be the ultimate long distance swimming challenge. It isn’t just the distance that is the challenge, but the variable conditions, cold water, jellyfish and the passing traffic of 600 tankers and 200 ferries daily. Needless to say, when Tom landed in France it was to the cheer of a welcoming French crowd and with just enough time to grab a handful of French sand as a keepsake, he dived back into the water to the support boat waiting to take him back to Dover.

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Tom has raised £2,650 for the spinal cord injury charity Aspire. Every eight hours someone in the UK is paralysed by Spinal Cord injury. Disability is expensive and Aspire gives grants and temporary housing so that people can lead more independent lives. The charity visits newly injured people in hospital to offer support, advice and training, with on-going support once they are back home.

To top the experience off, Tom got to sign his name on the walls of the world famous pub, “The White Horse” in Dover; a privilege that only those who have swum the English Channel have the honour to do.

And so for the next challenge? “Who knows”, says Tom, “I’m sure they’ll be something, but in the meantime I’m enjoying getting back to swimming “just for fun”.

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