Channel challenge by North Yorkshire soliders
12:01am 6th September 2011
Military staff from the Army Foundation College in Harrogate are swimming the English Channel.
The team completed five one-mile swims in the North Sea at Withernsea, Bridlington, Filey, Scarborough and Whitby in July as part of their progression from swimming in inland lakes to coastal waters.
Three of the Harrogate-based troops hope to become the first Army swimmers to complete an individual Channel crossing since Captain Matthew Webb in 1875.
A separate group of six will swim the minimum 35,200-metre distance (21 land miles) for two hours at a time as part of a relay.
They have been preparing for the cross-Channel attempt since last November by swimming in the lake at Ripon Racecourse and the nearby River Nidd before their practice swim in the North Sea.
Team manager Warrant Officer Class 2 (abbreviated WO2) Lee Sawyer explained:
"Swimming in salt water with the chop and the movement of the water is entirely different - with Jellyfish stings and all of the other creatures you need to contend with."
The 34 year old from York continued:
"The whole reason for swimming the Channel is to support two charities that we've chosen as a team - ABF The Soldiers' Charity, which is clearly close to our hearts being serving personnel, and the Special Care Baby Unit at Harrogate District Hospital.
"We're trying to raise in excess of £30,000 to be split between them both.
"When my own daughter was born at Harrogate District Hospital I thought what better way to show them my appreciation than to do something extraordinary to support the good work that they do?"
Army education officer Captain Emily Peers (29) is a member of the relay team from Harrogate.
"We actually had a really good time doing the training and clocking up some swimming in the sea.
"Hopefully it is going to be a little bit warmer in the Channel than it is in the North Sea but I'm feeling quite happy about it and hopefully we can achieve that challenge."
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