Twelve school girls and boys from Taunton Preparatory School have achieved their mission to swim the English Channel becoming one of the youngest teams ever to complete it. Swimming in two teams of six, the pupils took on the brave challenge of swimming the English Channel on Sunday 8th September (2089).
Setting off from the shores of Dover they completed the 21-mile six-person Relay Team Crossing largely during the night through the choppy waters of the Channel, arriving in France at sunrise. The Channel 4 celebrity “Sink or Swim” team set off at the same time as the Taunton School 12-year-olds who were delighted to get some great advice from Ross Edgley who was the Celeb team’s coach.
The squad began their endurance pool based training in May 2018 and then undertook acclimatisation training at Wiveliscombe outdoor pool over the Christmas holidays in water temperatures of only 19degC with frost all around.
Since then they have completed over 300 hours of training in Clevedon and Lyme Regis, as well as in the schools two swimming pools several times a week.
During August, they completed the Clevedon Long Swim and the following day took on The Chestnut Appeal Plymouth Breakwater Swim. They began night swimming training in Lyme Regis a few weeks ago.
The students were supported by Taunton School’s Long Distance Swim Coach Hamish McCarthy who is an experienced open water swimming coach. Hamish is also Head of Geography and Pastoral Head of Years 7 and 8 at Taunton Prep School, and last year won the Somerset Activity and Sport Award for Contribution to School Sport.
He went on to tell Tone News: “When you’re 10 years of age and you make the decision to train for the English Channel it’s inspirational; when you are then 12 and swim most of it at night it’s just extraordinary, a great feat of courage and resilience.”
“I believe our students are one of the youngest teams to have undertaken a channel relay swim since the rules changed some 30 years ago. Many of our pupils only turned 12 in July and August. Having spoken to Channel Swimming and Pilots Federation staff, they didn’t know of another team that had been younger. It really is an incredibly overwhelming achievement.”