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Local English Channel relay swimmers raise more than £37,000 for Aspire



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A HARDY group of swimmers successfully relayed their way across the English Channel to raise more than £37,000 for spinal cord injury charity Aspire.

Despite choppy seas and bouts of sea sickness, the team made the epic crossing in just over 13 hours.

The group comprised Susan Ponsford from Barton, Anita Whittle from Milford, Clare Clayton from New Milton, Jenine Timms from Ringwood, Chris Smith from Mudeford and Cathy Munro from Winchester

The swimmers, from left, Cathy Munro, Jenine Timms, Clare Clayton, Susan Ponsford, Anita Whittle and Chris Smith
The swimmers, from left, Cathy Munro, Jenine Timms, Clare Clayton, Susan Ponsford, Anita Whittle and Chris Smith

They went in relays with each participant swimming as fast as possible for one hour before getting into a guide boat to rest for five hours.

Clare Clayton said: “It was quite tough going but we made it.

“It was a very wavy, very choppy journey and three of our party got quite seasick, but they kept going through all of it and that just makes them even bigger legends as far as I’m concerned.”

Clare added: “Each of us had to swim in a set order otherwise it’s not judged to be a valid run by the adjudicators.

“The challenge was easier for those of us who were feeling fine because we could come on board the guide boat and take on some fluids and some food between swims.

“But for the ones who were feeling sick, they weren’t able to rest as well in the boat or eat or drink – however, they still had to get back in the water after their five hours was up.

“Despite what they were going through they still did it – they were just amazing.”

The team made the crossing in just over 13 hours
The team made the crossing in just over 13 hours

When the swim team arrived in France, they each set foot on the beach so their swim would be validated by an adjudicator before immediately getting back in the boat for the three-hour return journey to Britain.

Clare said: “Because it was quite rocky and rolly at sea we all had a few bruises from being in the boat.

“I think those of us who were feeling seasick felt pretty battered, but we were all tired.”

The team, who completed their swim in 13 hours and 12 minutes, were inspired to raise money for Aspire by former triathlete Paula Craig who was left paralysed from the waist down after a road collision.

She was the first person injured in such a way to take part in a relay Channel crossing.

Clare said: “Paula has been a complete inspiration to all of us.”

Donors can still contribute through one of their fundraising channels at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bartonladies



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