Tom takes on the North Channel Swim – England to France

Tom Chapman, from Porthcawl, completed a huge swim across the English Channel on 1st August 2019, finishing the challenge in just 15 hours and has raised over £1,200 for Mesothelioma UK.

He has been an active open water swimmer for many years, however decided some time ago that he would like to take on the Channel swim. Tom had to book the time-slot for the swim over 2 years ago, during this time unfortunately his father in law was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, which gave Tom even more reason to ensure he completed the challenge. We are honoured that Tom chose Mesothelioma UK as his charity, and applaud him for such a huge achievement!

We thought it would be best to leave it to Tom to explain exactly what swimming for 15 hours non-stop feels like!

“At midnight on the 2nd August the horn of the boat sounded and I dived into the English Channel from Samphire Hoe, just outside of Dover, to begin my solo swim. The English Channel is 21 miles across at the shortest point and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Channel swim rules dictate you can only wear a pair of speedos, goggles and a swim hat. I had a large spring tide so as I swam out under the stars and a large rolling swell, the tide pushed me almost ten miles east up the channel. My support crew on the pilot boat next to me were struggling with sickness and everyone was glad to see the dawn breaking and the water flatten as the tide turned six hours into the swim! The tide was now pushing us back west, through the shipping lanes and through the cross channel ferry routes. There were a lot of jellyfish but luckily I managed to miss almost all of them and not really get stung badly! You aren’t allowed to touch the support boat or another person during the swim so I was fed by my crew, throwing a sports drink out on a rope every 45 minutes.”

“After 12 hours, we reached the buoy marking the edge of the shipping lane and we were exactly three miles from France! Unfortunately for me, the wind was getting up and the tide was turning, bringing up a vicious chop to the water. The swim was turning into a real battle to the finish, every feed was bringing me a little bit closer but as you go east the land drops away so although you can see France, it seemed to take an age to break out of the tide and for the water to start flattening out.”

“My arms and shoulders were hurting from the effort but the cliffs were getting closer and closer. Suddenly the pilot boats engines stopped and I was told to swim in, picking my way through the rocks onto a tiny scrap of beach to clear the water and finish the swim in 15 hours and 35 minutes! This was the last of five big swims to raise money for mesothelioma UK who have been supporting my father in law Philip Ford, through his fight with this horrible disease. We are really grateful for the fantastic support Mesothelioma UK has given our family since his diagnosis.”