Cirencester woman swims English Channel to raise money for town’s open air pool

A Cirencester woman swam the English Channel to raise money for the town’s open air pool.

Cirencester Swimming Club member Claire Webster set off at midnight on September 7 and finished 13 hours and 42 minutes later.

The former Kingshill School pupil battled cold water, tides and the weather, to complete the challenge often termed ‘the Everest of marathon swimming’.

Claire, who works as a vascular surgeon for the RAF, has fitted in training at the Cotswold Water Park in Lake 32, and down at Swimmers’ Beach in Dover in between gruelling work hours, and the challenges of working within the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

“This challenge is a mental one as much as it is physical,” she said.

“The cold water training was a particular challenge and involved patient and safe acclimatization on a regular basis.”

Writing on her fundraising page she added: “The day was unbelievably hard, more than I imagined.

“Starting at midnight due to the tides, the first half was in the dark and felt pretty chilly. But it was calm.

“The second half was a different story. The tides pulled me away from the closest point to France and I had to swim longer to reach the shore.

“There is a point at the end of the swim when you are completely exhausted when you have to swim though a difficult current near the French shore. It almost finished me off.

“It was a really dark time. I kept going because if I didn’t finish it, I would have to go back another day to finish the job. And I just couldn’t bear the thought.

“This is definitely not a solo sport. So much help is needed along the way, advice from trainers, fellow swimmers, family and friends.

“The open water swimming community is a wonderful and friendly one. Could not have done it without support from family and friends throughout training and on the day.”

Claire has so far raised more than £2,000 for the Cirencester Open Air Pool.

“Swimming to me is such an important life skill,” she said.

“Our beautiful historic pool is entirely run by volunteers, and I am delighted to support this community asset for all of us to enjoy.”

The open air pool is currently raising money for a disability access hoist, which will widen the accessibility of the pool for those who require additional help.

You can donate at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/claire-webster-channel-swim

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