English Channel swim awaits

Open water swimmer Jacqui Hargrave said she was heartbroken at having her English Channel swim delayed yet again.

Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 11:45 am

But Jacqui, who is raising vital funds for Saint Michael’s hospice, is hoping that she will have one final change this week, along with her four fellow swimmers.

“Unfortunately, conditions in the Channel last week were deemed unsafe, with unwanted high winds, which were then immediately followed by storm Alex,” said Jacqui, who is making the bid in honour of her best friend who was cared for at the Harrogate hospice.

“Our pilot deemed it too dangerous for us to swim.

“Swimming across the English Channel is considered one of swimming’s toughest challenges, and we have all dedicated months of training, in cold and difficult conditions, which has been both mentally and physically exhausting.

“We were all heartbroken when we were told we were unable to swim but the safety of the boat, crew and team has to come first.”

She added: “This is a second setback for us, after we were forced to cancel our original swim date in May, due to the national lockdown.

“And the added difficulties of training for this swim with many pools and open water venues being unable to open when lockdown began to ease, meant we had a very much reduced open water season.”

But all is not lost as there is hope on the horizon this week.

Jacqui added: “We have also been using our Channel swim as an opportunity to raise money for charity, myself for Saint Michael’s hospice, and this further setback could potentially have made it more difficult to raise more money for them.

“However our pilot has been able to offer us one final chance this week to complete the swim, before it gets too cold, and so once again, we find ourselves playing the English Channel waiting game dubbed the “Dovercoaster!”

Jacqui – an experienced open water swimmer who has written books about her adventures – says the biggest challenge will be the cold, but also cited jellyfish, currents and boats as other potential perils during the 15-hour, 21-mile swim.

The swim’s stringent rules state each person can only swim one hour before another member of the team takes over. The team have to tackle currents and find their way around shipping lanes – so the swim could be up to 30 miles long.

Previously Jacqui has swum Windermere both ways to aid Saint Michael’s, and she and swim partner Andrea Stark, from Harrogate, have been practising in Whitby.

Jacqui’s support for Saint Michael’s started when her best friend Jane spent six weeks at the hospice before her death in 2017 of an aggressive form of cancer. She was 47.

The time Jane spent at the hospice and the care she received enabled her to make plans for the future and enjoy quality time with her friends and family.

“It wasn’t just a hospice; it was a venue for parties, girls’ nights in, movie nights and pamper days which we shared with Jane enabling many happy memories to be made at the most difficult of times,” said Jacqui.

“Jane just kept saying to me ‘Isn’t it amazing?’, as the chef made popcorn for a movie night, or made special batches of the ginger biscuits she craved. Anything she needed, Saint Michael’s made happen.”

To support Jacqui https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jacqui-hargrave2