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Light Fund Channel Swimmers Complete Epic Challenge

The Light Fund’s hardy band of marathon swimmers reached France Thursday, and are feeling “euphoric, exhausted and completely humbled.”

Two teams of swimmers called Team Optimist and Team High Hopes set off from the English coast late at night, and arrived at around 11 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time.

 “An incredible achievement against all the odds, very tough, extreme weather conditions, a true whole team effort, where determination and tenacity triumphed at the end of the day,” said a battered Stephen Gould. “We experienced the Channel in its raw brutality and we are euphoric, exhausted and completely humbled to get both teams to France.”

The crossing is not only exhausting but can also be dangerous due to swiftly changing ocean conditions. According to spokeswoman Sian Dorrington, the teams had tried to launch their relay race across the channel on June 27-28, but were turned back when the weather got worse.

“They should have started last night but sadly the weather conditions changed!  Another attempt to start is being made at midnight tonight – fingers crossed for them all!” said Dorrington at the time.

Instead, the teams hit the water the night of June 29, and plowed through difficult conditions to finish the race in roughly 15 hours.

The organizers say Team High Hope’s Rhys Fleming was the first swimmer to reach French soil, taking 14 hours and 56 minutes, while Team Optimist was close behind, reaching the beach in 15 hours and 24 minutes.

The organizers say the teams battled through heavy swells so bad that they also had to contend with severe sea sickness as the relay team members took breaks on their escort vessels.

Team Optimist included Ian Down (captain), Eion Wallace, Katie Price, Jason Goonery, Mark Bezodis, Kevin Langstaff and reserve Tasmyn Knight.

Team High Hopes included Stephen Gould (captain), Mark Kingston, Rhys Fleming, Anna Hewitt, Anne Bradford, Simon Gresswell and reserve swimmer Terry Lamb.

Rhys Fleming was the first swimmer to touch French soil in 14 hours and 56 minutes. Team Optimist reached French soil in 15 hours 24 minutes.

The Light Fund has now raised more than £202,000 through their JustGiving portal, and the fund is still taking in donations to be used to build rescue boats for the British coast.

You can still donate by  clicking here.

 


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