At least someone is swimming! Shirley Pool’s star pupil Chris Cole is swimming the English Channel, setting off at 4.52am this morning, Tuesday July 14th.
It is a remarkable story of determination and resilience to reach this point. Unable to swim ten years ago, the Hythe GP took his first steps to learning how to swim, aged 39. In the small learner pool at Shirley, Chris began by blowing bubbles, immersing his face for the first time. Under the careful guidance of the swim teachers, Chris’s confidence grew and he soon mastered the fundamentals of breathing in the water
Like many other adults today, Chris had never experienced lessons as a child and was determined to ensure his children were safe in water. Research shows as many as one in three adults cannot swim properly.
The first steps are always the most difficult, as Chris explains ““ I knew the pool had a good reputation and yet the thought of swimming filled me with anxiety and embarrassment”
It wasn’t long before Chris progressed to the main pool to develop his strokes and stamina.
The link below shows the current progress of Chris’s solo attempt:
On the boat today supporting is Ashley Christopher, a teacher from Shirley Pool and a close friend . A successful solo Channel swimmer himself, it was Ash who first introduced Chris to sea swimming and helped with that tricky transition to colder, murkier waters.
The pair can be found early on most Sunday mornings, throughout the year, training on Bournemouth Beach with the Durley Sea Swimmers.
In 2019 the pair formed a relay team from Shirley Pool and made a successful crossing of the Channel, raising £10,000 for local charities.
Chris has funded all the costs of todays Channel crossing himself and has started a Just Giving page to raise money for a small charity that is close to his heart and is well on the way to raising his £5,000 target.
Live reports from the deck of the pilot ship Sea Leopard can be found on Chris’s facebook page