Fantastic fundraisers swim the English Channel and back in under 24 hours!
Under the auspices of the Channel Swimming Association Paul Bampton, 35, Glyn Bevans, 56, Richard Dines, 51, and Pete Lillie, 56, became only the third four-man team to complete the double crossing since records began in 1927, finishing in 23 hours 20 mins and raising more than Â£10,000 for Sue Ryder Nettlebed Hospice in Oxfordshire.
The men met while swimming at Bradfield College sports centre over a number of years and soon became good friends, supporting each other at a number of events. Of the four, Richard was the only one with previous experience of swimming across the English Channel, completing the swim last year in 13 hours 8 mins. Glyn is currently a GB Team Manager for British Triathlon; managing the duathlon team for the European Championships 2014-16 and having previously represented GB at the Age Group 2013 World Triathlon Championship Final in London.
The team â€“ who named themselves â€˜Not Over Until Doverâ€™ - left Dover at 5am on Friday, July 10, with Richard the first man in the water setting out from Samphire Hoe at 5:43am. They swam in one-hour relay shifts before swapping with the next person, waiting on board the Sea Leopard - their support vessel for the challenge - when not in the water.
Pete Lillie was the man who stepped ashore in France. He said: â€œThereâ€™s something special about starting the swim back from France as itâ€™s not allowed anymore unless you have already swum over from England. However, we soon began to realise this leg was going to be tough as conditions worsened overnight in comparison to the outward swim.â€ As it would turn out Pete was the final swimmer, coming ashore back in England to complete the challenge.
As Pete swam ashore in France, team member Paul was watching from the support boat. He says: As I watched Pete swim into France he was joined by three seals, which swam close behind him as he landed the first leg. Luckily he didnâ€™t realise they were there or he could have had quite a scare!â€ The seals accompanied the team back out again as they started the return leg.
The overnight return swim was particularly hard as the wind got up against the tide, causing quite a challenging swell as night fell. Both Paul and Glyn had to swim for an hour each in the dark through some of the largest blooms of jellyfish seen, suffering extensive and painful stings all over their bodies.
Pete said: â€œWatching Paul and then Glyn battle their way through the jellyfish was soul destroying as it was my turn to swim next. It was pitch black at night in the middle of the channel and knowing I was about to jump into the unknown, hearing Paul and Glyn's cries of pain, was making me feel sick. I got the five minute call, changed and composed myself. There was no turning back. I stood on the side of the boat watching Glyn complete his hour
then over the side I went. The water was bloody cold but the jellyfish were thinning out - I got lucky! No stings and another hour completed.â€
Lloyd Clark-Morris was on board the Sea Leopard looking after the team. He said: â€œIt was horrible telling the team members that it was their turn to do their next hour when I knew I was sending them to an hour full of torment and stings from jellyfish. At times I felt like a 'mother hen' tucking the team in and making sure they kept as warm and well fed as possible.â€
Family and supporters were able to track the teamâ€™s progress in real time by following the position of the Sea Leopard as well as through a live blog that the team updated throughout the swim.
To make this an official swim, and in line with the CSA (Channel Swimming Association) regulations, the men completed the challenge in only standard swim shorts, a silicone hat and goggles.
Most teams attempting this challenge are made up of six members, whereas â€˜Not Over Till Doverâ€™ was only a four-man team, making the feat much harder.
Richard said: â€œIt was harder than we had thought but we were pushing the pace throughout and keeping one eye on how far we still had to swim! The whole swim and the way it was achieved validated our 9 months of hard work, it paid off immensely - especially the sets of multiple one hour swims at a challenging pace with one hour rest intervals.â€
He continues: â€œThe team work that we had built up through training was the back bone of our resilience on the day, in combination with the skipper, crew and observers on board Sea Leopard; without whom, itâ€™s simply not possible to achieve such a feat.â€
Glyn says his favourite moment of the swim came during the outbound leg: â€œSwimming as long as I could to one side of Sea Leopard - next to the bow - as the sun sparkled off the water was very special; the closest feeling Iâ€™ll have to being a dolphin!â€