Later this month (July 2021), Vicky Annis, Kent Sport Physiotherapy Clinic Manager, will attempt to swim the English Channel solo to raise funds for Cancer Research UK and Canterbury Welcomes Refugees.
Vicky talks about her challenge:
‘Last year, I had my first taste of what it is like to swim the Channel. I completed the Channel as part of a 4-person relay. The conditions were perfect. Glorious sunshine and calm sea. There are not many days you will see zero waves across such an expanse of water. It took us 11 hours and 32 minutes before we stepped foot on French territory.
There have been some heroic attempts to cross the English Channel in years gone by and to say that the history of the Channel fascinates me is an understatement!’
‘In July I will be attempting the swim on my own, with the support of a boat and crew called Masterpiece. I will have a couple of coaches and friends on the boat also, who I know will encourage me through the good and tough sections of the swim, feed me at regular intervals and most importantly, check that I am safe and not getting too hypothermic.’
One question I have been asked a lot is why? Why this challenge? I never thought I would ever get the opportunity first and foremost. We all have different body types and for me, swimming comes a lot more naturally than running. I have always said I would rather swim the Channel than run a marathon and hopefully I will be able to attempt this in July.
Another reason, like many challenges we do, are often in memory of people who have inspired us. I grew up with swimming and swam with a club; Whitby Seals. One of the club members, Nora Swales, supported me with my swimming and would always come to the galas. As a child, we swam in the River Esk, and my competitive edge would always get the better of me. Chasing down fellow swimmers and coming out a shivering wreck! Nora took me home and made sure I was able to talk again! Nora volunteered so much of her time to teaching young children to swim and sadly we lost her to cancer. When this swim gets tough, I will be thinking of her, and others who have battled through cancer. I would like to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
I would also like to raise money for Canterbury Welcomes Refugees. Up until swimming last year, I did not fully grasp the distance and unpredictability of the Channel and how people are risking their lives every day crossing the Channel. It made me realise how lucky we are not to start or experience such difficulties in life. This charity supports Syrian families with language support, housing, employment support and much more which can indescribably change lives.
Many people have dipped their toes in the sea over the winter months due to the pools being closed and although the thought of getting into the water when the temperature is less than double figures, it honestly is a brilliant feeling once you come back out!
Preparation has been less than ideal, but that makes the challenge even more exciting and unpredictable. Spring of 2020 brought warm weather in April and May, however, this year we seem to have seen rain, wind and snow for so much longer!
In order for the attempt to be official, you must register with the Channel Swimming Association and have an observer on the boat who makes sure that all rules are followed. This includes wearing one costume, one hat and goggles. You must not touch the boat at any time and feeding requires a coach to throw the food and drink towards you but not touch you. It is very strict, but this way it is the same for everyone attempting the swim.”
The attempt will be made between 14 and 22 July 2021 – we don’t know the exact date as it is dependent on weather conditions.
The swim can be watched live by using the live tracking device at Channel Swimming Association.