Dolphins, seals and illegal immigrants – not your typical cross-Channel charity swim for Milford dad

sean willson swim
Sean took just under 14 hours to make the crossing

MILFORD dad Sean Willson encountered dolphins and seals as he as he completed a cross-Channel swim to raise more than £7,000 for two charities.


With just a few hours’ notice of perfect conditions, Sean completed the gruelling Dover-to-France challenge last Thursday in a time of 13 hours and 22 minutes.

Wearing only swimming trunks and goggles, he was supported by a group of three friends who passed him food and water and even joined him in the sea for part of the swim.

Dad-of-two Sean, who is manager of the Hyundai garage in Everton, said: “It was a good day, the sun was shining, but the conditions did change in the last couple of hours when it got quite choppy which made it tough going.

Sean raised more than £7,000

“It felt like I could see land for a long time but it wasn’t really getting much closer – I just had to take it half an hour at a time.”

Although the distance from Dover to France is around 21 miles straight, tidal currents mean athletes must swim in a curve shape, increasing the distance that Sean covered to 28.6 miles.

Sean said: “I encountered two pods of dolphins and two seals. We also saw some illegal immigrants trying to get across on a blow up kayak but luckily they were quite a distance away.

“When I reached the rocks on the other side it was an incredible feeling – it was an absolute relief to be able to stop moving my arms.”

Sean personally met the £3,000 cost of the support boat which was required to travel alongside him during his attempt, and set a goal of raising £4,000 to be divided between the Brain Tumour Charity and the Alzheimer’s Society.

Despite having just a few weeks to fundraise Sean said he was “overwhelmed” by the incredible support from friends, family, customers and strangers which saw him raise £7,000.

Tidal currents mean athletes must swim in a curve shape

He said: “When I reached the original £4,000 fundraising target I increased it to £5,000 and then £6,000.

“Now we are at just over £7,000 and I would really love it if we could get to £8,000 which would be double the original amount.

“My shoulders have been quite painful because that continuous arm movement for more than 13 hours does take its toll on you physically.”

However after a weekend of rest, Sean was back at work at Everton Hyundai on Monday and was planning a half-hour sea swim for Tuesday morning.

Swimming the English Channel is considered by many to be the ultimate long-distance swimming challenge, including obstacles such as cold water, jellyfish and the daily traffic of 600 tankers and 200 ferries.

For the swim to be officially recognised by the Channel Swimming Association participants must not be assisted by any artificial aid, and are only permitted to use goggles, one cap, a nose clip, ear plugs and one costume, which has to be sleeveless and legless.
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