They've done it: Harrogate swim team conquer the English Channel and a sea of jellyfish

Attacked by jellyfish, assailed with sea sickness, flanked by giant tankers...but Harrogate's brave Channel swim team finally completed their mission fuelled by a supply of Fat Rascals.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 3:10 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd July 2021, 3:16 pm
English Channel success - The Harrogate team pictured swimming in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

After ploughing through one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world for 14 hours and one minute, Jacqui Hargrave, Andrea Stark, Richard Powell and Jonty Warneken - who lost part of his leg in a car accident 25 years ago - reached the shores of France

It was an emotional moment when they eventually hit dry land, in the process successfully raising more than £5,400 for their chosen charities.

Harrogate's English Channel team - Richard Powell, Andrea Stark, Jonty Warneken and Jacqui Hargrave.

Open swimmer and popular blogger Jacqui Hargrave from Knaresborough said: "Andrea and I both were stung by jellyfish. We saw moon jellyfish, Compass jellyfish, blue jellyfish; Andrea headbutted one of these!

"Apparently a barrel jellyfish came past me – thank goodness I didn’t see it - how I missed it I don’t know. Those things can grow to the size of a dustbin lid!

"Andrea also had to battle some horrid seasickness but was absolutely amazing and swam on regardless.

"I think she swam it on two Dextro tablets and two ginger biscuits, whilst the rest of us feasted on Fat Rascals from Bettys!"

The water temperature was low at 16.5oc but can often been even worse in the English Channel.

In theory it is a 21 mile swim as the crow flies but most swimmers swim further.

In the case of the Harrogate team, the GPS on the boat recorded that they collectively swam 30.49 miles.

Otherwise, conditions were good for an epic challenge which had to be abandoned twice before because of the terrible conditions.

Jacqui Hargrave said: "The weather was amazing. Sunshine all the way. The conditions couldn’t have been better.

"The sea was like a millpond until the final three hours, when the tide turned causing some very cold patches of water and some swell.

"We were swimming to France against the tide. It’s tough knowing you’re swimming, but not getting as far as you would normally.

"I felt quite emotional really I reached shore in France. After three attempts at the swim, we had finally done it."

The swim was a personal triumph for the whole team but no more so than for Jonty Warneken, who fought back from a dreadful car crash near Ripley in 1994 when he had to have his left leg amputated below the knee.

The four charities which will benefit from the Channel swim are: Harrogate's Saint Michael’s Hospice; Open Country, a Yorkshire-based charity with more than 30 years of experience in enabling people with disabilities to access and enjoy the countryside; The Samaritans and Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health.

That mission accomplished, more challenges lie on the horizon for the fearless swimmers.

Jacqui Hargrave said: "After a few days of rest,Jonty and I begin training almost immediately for the GB Ice swimming trials, with the hopes of qualifying for the GB team at the IISA 4th world championships in Katowice in Poland on 4-6th February 2022. "