A TEAM from the island have swam the English Channel – raising more than £16,700 for a spinal injury charity in the process.
The Manx Minkes completed the 22-mile swim to France on September 9 in a time of 12 hours 47 minutes.
Team manager Dr Jill Bunyan, who before the crossing had described the challenge as the ‘Everest of swimming’, said: ‘We are currently the sixth fastest successful team this year, from a total of around 36 – so pretty respectable!
‘We may even be the fastest all female team of 2012 – we will find out at the presentations by the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation in March next year.’
She added: ‘We would have been even faster if the tide had actually run on the last section, but it just never did.’
The team included Christine Howell, Heather Mattocks, Silla Parnell, Jill Bunyan, Johanna Barkwith, Emma Wade and Beth Swaine.
Brandon Ellis and Mark Gorry were in reserve.
Dr Bunyan said: ‘We left the marina (at Dover) by boat at midnight, to make our way around to the famous Shakespeare Beach, where our first swimmer had to jump into the sea in the dark and swim back to shore for the official start at 00.50am on Sunday, September 9.
‘The first one was the most scary I think as we all adjusted to the conditions, but everyone had a chance to swim by starlight – amazing! – and Beth got to swim into the sunrise. I was asleep by then unfortunately.
‘We each swam for an hour then kept swimming in rotation until we arrived.’
She said: ‘We could not have had better conditions – even at night we could see the lights of all the Channel traffic, and by day it was clear just how big some of the ships were, 900-plus feet long.
‘The only time we really had waves was when we crossed the wake of another ship – and those did kind of take you by surprise if you were swimming.’
She described the last three hours as being ‘really frustrating’, adding: ‘We could see France and it didn’t seem to be getting closer. By this stage we should have been whizzing along on the tide that never was.
‘The upside was that the pilot took pity on us (or he wanted some peace and quiet for a few minutes) and let us all jump in and swim the final 200m to France, together.’
The team started training in December after they saw an advert for English Channel relay teams.
She thanked everyone who had supported the team.
Aspire offers practical support to the 40,000 people living with a spinal cord injury in the UK .
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Weather for Isle of Man
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 8 C to 14 C
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