Kingfishers squad hope for fair weather ahead of Channel relay

The Kingfishers Channel Relay squad
The Kingfishers Channel Relay squad
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Kingfishers Swimming Club’s Channel relay squad leave Scarborough tomorrow for Folkestone to await good weather and tides on the south coast.

The seven-strong team, comprising of a bank manager, a publican, an IT manager, a university law student and three schoolgirls aged 13, 14 and 15 have been training hard in the pool all year round and also in cold water since April 9.

They have trained in either the North Sea or Wykeham Lakes for up to two hours at a time in water as cold as five degrees at the beginning of the season.

Paula Ambury, the open water coach for Kingfishers SC, was in the Scarborough Castle Long Distance Swimming Club’s relays in 1982 and 1986 and she has worked closely with all the swimmers to ensure they are ready for the challenge ahead and understand what it entails to complete a successful Channel relay.

Ambury said “I am so proud of every one of the swimmers in coming this far, they’ve swum in rain, sleet, hail, wind and thunder on one occasion to be ready for the challenge ahead.

“It is very important at this point to thank the safety crew that turn out in that same weather to support the open water squad to enable them to train: Phil Dickinson, Mick Hunter, Gav Kerrigan, Jon Coates, Lewis Sykes, Kane Vipurs, Shaun Whitham, Steve Dove, John Ambury, Amanda Lee and Hannah Keech all canoe or man the safety boat to ensure the swimmers are safe.”

It is said to be every open- water and long-distance swimmer’s dream to swim the English Channel and completing it in a relay is the first step to introducing swimmers to the world of Channel swimming.

All seven Kingfishers swimmers will swim in the relay rather than one of them being kept back as a reserve and not swim as sometimes happens in Channel Relays.

The first swimmer will enter the water from the beach at Samphire Hoe and then swim for one hour alongside the boat.

The second swimmer will enter the water at the hour mark behind the first swimmer and continue swimming while the first swimmer climbs back onto the boat via a ladder.

This is continued in a strict rotation until a swimmer walks ashore in France.

The swim can be stopped if any swimmer can’t take their turn, or the team aren’t making sufficient progress against the tides or the weather turns while the swim is in progress.

To put the attempt into perspective - statistics show that in 2011 - 537 people climbed Mount Everest with just 37 solo swimmers and 11 teams successfully swimming the English Channel.

Whatever happens from here on in everyone should be rightly proud of this small group of dedicated swimmers and support crew flying the flag for Scarborough and Channel swimming.