A 15-YEAR-OLD from Stroud has helped raise over £3000 for a bomb disposal charity after swimming 21 miles of the English Channel as part of a six-person relay team.
Lucas Tompkins, a pupil at Archway school in Randwick, completed the relay with his team in 11 hours and 22 minutes, which was the quickest time of any English team this year.
Lucas raised over £500 by himself after swimming two one-hour legs of the relay. The swim was done without wetsuits as a requirement of the Channel Swim Association in order to qualify as a proper English Channel Swim.
To qualify for the race Lucas and his team, which included Trish Mansell from Frampton on Severn, Marcus Bennett, Mark Phillips, Laura Phillips and Nigel Robson, all had to undertake a two-hour cold water qualification swim in 14 degree water without wetsuits so he and his team could take part in the event on October 3.
“The relay was a great experience, although it was freezing,” said Lucas. “Especially with the air temperature at that time.
“The first members of our team swam at 2am and I did my first swim at 6.50am. It was a mental barrier to overcome as the air temperature was about five degrees. It was cold, very windy and the sea was rough.
No one could get any rest on the boat as we were constantly bounced around by the waves.
“It was hard taking off the warm jackets and getting in the water and being expected to swim for an hour, but the sunrise was quite nice. We had lights on our hats so the boat could see us in the water.”
Lucas was also the only teenager in his team.
Trish Mansel, a local triathlete, was the organiser of the event which was sponsored by Zone 3. She met Lucas through Severnside Tritons Swim Club as they both train at the same pool and did open water training together at Cromhall Quarry near Dursley.
The event was part of the Zone3 Victory Swims, which are part of the Captain James Wadsworth Challenges where the participants push themselves to their limits.
Captain Wadsworth served as a bomb disposal expert with the British Army and Lucas and his team were swimming to raise money for the Felix Fund who assist bomb disposal and search personnel and their families with financial assistance and welfare support.
Lucas previously competed in the Southwest Open Water Championship and took a gold medal for Gloucester County last year in the 3000m event.
Speaking about the relay, Lucas said: “I knew it was going to be a challenge to swim that far in open cold seas, but I never realised how much the sea sickness, lack of sleep and cold air was going to affect me.
“It became a real endurance event towards the end as the winds came up and the sea was almost unswimmable.”
The youngster is currently studying for his GCSE’s but despite training six days a week, he manages to balance his schoolwork and swimming quite easily.
“I have training most nights, but I try to get my revision in before I go to the pool,” he said.
As well as excelling is his GCSE’s, he says he hopes to complete three upcoming 10k swim races in the summer next year as well as competing in county and regional competitions with Severnside Tritons.