Tooting: Four local women ready to smash charity English Channel swim

  Posted: 05.07.21 at 15:21 by Tommy Joyce

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Four women from the South London Swimming Club are set to swim the channel in a few weeks’ time for charity.

The Tooting Lido regulars, dubbed as the ‘Channel Crackers’, have been preparing for this moment for over a year now and will attempt to swim the channel this month as a relay of four.

Lisa Peake, Lorraine Jeffcoate, Vanessa Cowie and Sue Rentoul will be the four to attempt the swim, with fellow teammates Mick Hinde having to miss out due to health reasons and Nicole Murray being the reserve swimmer.

The channel is 21 miles as the crow flies, however, with tides you can swim for almost twice that amount. Each swimmer swims for an hour before rotating with another team member and during that hour period no swimmer is allowed to touch the boat or another person.

Throughout the swim, all they can wear is their costume, a silicon hat, goggles and earplugs.

Their ‘weather window’ is between July 22 and July 29, meaning that if the weather is suitable they will set off on one of those days. If not it will be postponed to another week.

Channel Crackers

Speaking to Nub News , Lorraine Jeffcoate said: “We’ve been romancing this idea for years.

“We all like to swim all year round so it’s nice to have something to train for.

“This boat has been booked for years. We talked to other club members and the idea has grown from there.

“It’s all very exciting - we’ve been egging each other on.

“It’s a case of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, for all of us.

Channel Crackers

“It’s been very exciting; equal measurements of excitement and nerves at the same time.”
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With coronavirus being rampant during their training preparations, the Channel Crackers had to do things a little bit differently than usual.

Usually, pools are where most of the training is done. But with them being shut for so long it has forced the team to go out and train in open water - an act which Lorraine says has only brought the team closer together, including group trips down to Brighton, the Thames at Teddington or Sheppington Lake.

It’s been a long time coming for these swimmers, with the qualifier being completed in November. Here they had to prove they were up to the task, swimming for 90 minutes at a time in Brighton in November when the temperature was just six degrees celsius. They then had to jump out for an hour, followed by another hour of swimming, emulating the channel crossing process.

They have now begun tapering their training in order to be ready for their set date. They have been swimming once or twice a day, but now they have reduced it to two or three easy sessions per week.

No matter how hard they’ve trained, there is no guarantee of achieving this challenge. Nevertheless, Lorraine is convinced that if it doesn’t happen, it won’t be because they don’t want it enough.

“We have trained so hard. We are chomping at the bit,” she said.

Channel Crackers

“I think we’re all as match fit as we’ll ever be.

“We’re a strong team mentally and can all do it an hour four times.

“If we don’t do it it will be due to elements.

“We are determined to get there. If we’ve been pulled it’s because someone’s been stung by a jellyfish or something. It will be external.

“We are going to get there.”

Channel Crackers

While getting the job done is firmly on Lorraine’s mind, she is sure that no matter the outcome, this has been an experience that goes well beyond a personal milestone..

In fact, Lorraine has encouraged anyone who is thinking about trying this challenge or something similar to actually go out there and do it, as she has reaped the rewards for being a part of it.

She said: “Training has been so much fun. No matter what happens in our attempt it has been worth it for the comradery between us. It’s brought us some amazing memories.

“I would encourage anyone to do it. If you told me a few years ago that I would swim the channel I would have laughed at you.

“It’s about self-esteem and confidence and pushing yourself. If you’ve got a strong enough stroke and a big enough will, you can do it.”

The ladies are swimming on behalf of three charities - all of which have a personal link to the group: Mind UK, Diabetes UK and the National Brain Appeal’s Rare Dementia Support Centre Fund.

So far (as of July 5) they have raised a whopping £5,106 for these charities with a goal of £6,000.

To donate, you can do so by going to their Money Giving page.

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