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Local English Channel swimmers hoping to see off sickness in fundraiser for charity Aspire

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THE threat of sea sickness is one of the obstacles facing a team of six swimmers preparing to relay their way across the English Channel for charity.

The five women and one man are aiming to make it from Dover to France tomorrow (Friday) in a challenge that could take anything between 10 and 17 hours.

They comprise 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.

From left, Susan Ponsford, Anita Whittle, Jenine Timms, Clare Clayton, Cathy Munro and Chris Smith
From left, Susan Ponsford, Anita Whittle, Jenine Timms, Clare Clayton, Cathy Munro and Chris Smith

Clare said: “It sounds crazy, but sea sickness is a big problem. For a lot of the crossing, you are spending time in a small boat waiting for your turn.

“You can get very sick. I just had a bout of it which lasted 10 hours – it was horrendous.

“But two of our party get it worse. They even get sick in the sea itself!”

They are setting off in the dead of night to take part in the relay, swimming an hour at a time.

An adjudicator will be on board the vessel to make sure they stick by the rules which ban wet suits, touching the boat and any contact between swimmers at change-over.

Clare said: “One swimmer will start off from Dover and the person taking over from them will get into the water at the back of the boat.

The six swimmers in training
The six swimmers in training

“When the first swimmer begins to get into the boat they can then take over.

“We all just keep swimming towards France which is around 22 miles as the crow flies. But because the tide can be so strong it means you can be pulled off a straight course, so we are likely to do more miles than that.”

Previous teams have taken between 10 and 17 hours to make the crossing. Clare said her group is hoping to achieve it at the quicker end of the scale.

They are undertaking the challenge for the charity Aspire which supports people who have suffered a spinal injury.

They were joined for a practice swim at Avon Beach by former triathlete Paula Craig who is paralysed from her waist down after an accident. She was the first person injured in such a way to take part in a relay channel crossing.

Clare said: “She is a total inspiration.”

Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bartonladies

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