10 June 2021

Channel Swim Fundraiser

Phoebe Critchlow (Y11) is about to embark on a Channel relay swim to raise money for Alzheimer's Research UK in memory of her grandfather.

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I decided to swim the Channel in memory of my grandparents, both of whom passed away during the pandemic.

Dementia had such a big impact on my Grandpa’s life, like so many others, which is why I was determined to do something to make a difference in the fight against dementia and raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. I love to swim, and I’ve grown up going down to Dover with my Dad, swimming out to the ‘yellow ducks’ and feeding the swimmers as they came in. Swimming is very mindful so it’s perfect for taking some time away from the world to remember him and my Grandma. 

The channel is a deceptively simple obstacle as on a good day you can see France from the harbour, but it only took the first weekend training down in that sea to put it into perspective. The channel is officially 21 miles across, although you often swim more because of the tides pulling you back and forth in a zigzag.

I started training in March, swimming at home before progressing onto three or four 3km swims a week. This was all to build my stamina up so I could go down to Dover for the first swim of the season and build my stamina up all over again.

Dover beach has a fantastically supportive community that will ‘gently’ persuade you back into the water should you come in too early. I’ve met so many new people, including my wonderful relay team which began with five strangers thrown together and grew into our team ‘Cinq au swim’.

I had to complete a two-hour qualifier swim and since my relay is so early in the season it was only ten degrees when I swam it. That was one of the most difficult and tiring parts of the training as the sheer cold wears your body down.

One of my main takeaways from swimming and my training so far is that you need to put the physical work in but, just like grief, Channel swimming is a mental journey. It can be a difficult one, but one you know you can get through it when the sun comes through the clouds.

Phoebe Critchlow, Y11

Good luck to Phoebe on completing her swim next week! You can find her fundraising page here.

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