Swimmer Of the Year Award

Shirley Swimming Pool are delighted to announce that Ashley Christopher has been named as the pool’s swimmer of the year, and is to be nominated also for a national award.

The Southampton swimmer only picked up the sport again five years ago, having not swam regularly since his school days.

Training at Shirley Pool, and through the winter at Bournemouth beach for two years, Ashley racked up mile after mile in his quest to swim the English Channel

On August 1st, armed just with swimming trunks, goggles and some vaseline, Ashley’s brave Channel attempt launched from Dover at dawn, after an overnight drive from Southampton.

The swim didn’t start well,

“I always hate the first two hours of any big swim as I’m getting into my stride and getting used to the sea conditions and temperature. I was also feeling sick from the milkshake I’d had at 3am, I never feel sick normally and in my head I was thinking ‘Why the hell am I doing this?’ ” said Ashley.

“You can feel quite vulnerable swimming in the sea when you can’t see the bottom and wonder what’s down there. Any creepy thoughts you have, must be pushed out of your mind. I often just close my eyes when my face is down in the water and only look when I breathe. This was when I got my first jellyfish sting on the arm which felt a little worse than a nettle sting”

“It wasn’t long after the first that I felt the second sting across my face.” Ashley added.

“I think it was when I was ten hours in, when the crew said you’re three miles from the Cap Griz Nez, I was feeling good so I decided to up the stroke rate slightly. It was sometime after that, that my shoulder started to twinge”

The support boat fed some painkillers hidden in a banana, but they didn’t have the desired effect,

“The pain which started in my shoulder was now working its way down my arm. I wasn’t able to put any power through it and I became more reliant on my right arm. The worry of how long will each arm keep moving and the fear of failure dawned on me.”

Ashely’s dream swim was now turning into a nightmare.

“The pain was now shooting down my arm from my shoulder to my wrist with every stroke. I had to run through all the reasons why I am doing this”

“I tried mentally pushing the pain of my shoulder out of my head but it just didn’t work. I kept drifting away from the boat for some reason. I think I was just losing concentration due to the pain and fatigue.”

“At last I felt my hand touch the [sea] bottom and I stood up and walked up the beach, stretching my arms above my head, shouting. It was brutal, far beyond all my expectations.”

The successful solo crossing of the channel was completed in a staggering 13 hours and 40 minutes and  raised £3500 for a Southampton charity.

As well as completing the channel swim, Ashley found time to help many other swimmers from Shirley Pool make the tough transition to sea swimming.

Several had only learnt to swim recently as adults so had a steep learning curve. His inspiration has led to a team of swimmers entering a cross channel relay in 2019.

Every Sunday morning Ashley can be found at the beach offering encouragement and hot chocolate to budding open water enthusiasts.

For his dedication and determination but also for his consideration and generosity, Ashley Christopher has been named Shirley Pool Swimmer of the Year 2017. Star swimmer.

If you would like to learn more about the story, you can read the full report here – Ashley Channel Swim 2017 JT

Or you can read the story from the man himself. – Ashley Channel Swim Story Final

You can also view an interview with our star swimmer here.

Posted in News, Seadogs Masters Swimming, Star Swimmers | Comments Off on Swimmer Of the Year Award

Shirley Pool Success at River Itchen Biathlon

The 12th annual River Itchen Biathlon was a success for Shirley Swimming Pool, as pool boss Dave Perry’s ‘Old Simmarians’ team brought home the trophy.

The Biathlon relay starts at the source of the River Itchen in Cheriton and follows the Navigation Way for 24.7 miles to Woodmill, where the swimmers take over and race the 2.5k down to the sea.

Helping to raise £1500 for the local Countess Mountbatten Cancer Hospice were five teams and eleven swimmers with sponsorship from local companies and suppliers to the swim school.

Running a close second were the debutant team from Southampton Triathlon Club, who were rewarded for their efforts with the trophy for the fastest finishing time.

The unusual event calculates the finishing times over the age of the participants, so the winning team, ‘Old Simmarians’, had a net time of 2:56:01, 20 minutes faster than the next best competitor.

Retired Shirley Pool boss, Dave Perry was helped to success by schoolmates John Cooney, Richey Pearson and Nigel Colmer.

In the swimming event Dave Smart, from team Clausentium, received an Aquasphere wetsuit as the first male home in a time of 32.12. Triathlete Kelly Wickens, swimming the Itchen race for the first time, received the ladies prize of an Aquashere wetsuit, finishing in 37 minutes 10 seconds.

£150 was also donated to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife trust and £50 to Surfers against Sewage, thanks to generous sponsorship from, Haines Watts, Hire It Tools & Equipment, Uptons Butchers, Finch Insurers, Faradays Electrical Contractors, GMA Mobility Aids, BSA Regal, Hannides Solicitors and Shirley Swimming Pool.

Full results can be seen here

Major prizes came from Aquasphere with two wetsuits, Speedo for goggles, Alton Sports and ABP Southampton Half Marathon.



For more information about the charity and how you can help, you can visit them directly at

Posted in News, Seadogs Masters Swimming | Comments Off on Shirley Pool Success at River Itchen Biathlon

Shirley Pool MD David Perry escapes from Alcatraz and the sharks!

Congratulations to Shirley Swimming Pool Managing Director David Perry, who recently completed the Escape from Alcatraz swim.

The swim consists of 1.5 miles of strong currents, freezing water temperatures and the constant threat of shark attack!

Posted in News, Seadogs Masters Swimming | Comments Off on Shirley Pool MD David Perry escapes from Alcatraz and the sharks!

Brownsea Island 2015

Chris Cole completed the swim in 2Hrs04mins, remembering his first lessons as he did so “I can clearly remember waiting nervously by the small pool for my first lesson, watching the lane swimmers going up and down, thinking that if I could just do one length like that then I’d be delighted. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I could achieve anything like this.”

Ash Christopher went on to have the 5th in the non-wetsuit category in a time of 1:47:54, shortly behind the fastest Seadog: David Perry who was 9th overall in the age group, finishing in a time of 1:47:17.

Another debutant, Julia Maddock finished 12th in her age group with a respectable time of 1:54:43. Also swimming for the first time was Julie Grey, battling through injury to achieve an 11th place age group finish in 2:18:08.

Dean Katwell brought up the rear guard for the Shirley Pool Seadogs, finishing in a time of 2:20:33.


The next challenges for the Seadogs:

  • Escape from Alcatraz: 22nd August

  • River Itchen Biathlon: 5th September

Posted in News, Seadogs Masters Swimming | Comments Off on Brownsea Island 2015