Channel Swim Achievement for Year 9 Student

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Featured Article / 18 Oct 2023

Huge congratulations to our year 9 student Felipe, who has successfully taken part in a 6 person relay team to swim the English Channel and raised £12,500 for charity. To undertake such an enormous physical and mental challenge is worthy of great praise indeed.  Especially as the youngest member of the team and also raising money for Rennie Grove Peace Hospice. The whole school community is very proud of Felipe and below he has written about experience. 

If you would like to donate to this worthy cause please visit the Just Giving Page here:

Watford Ocean Warriors Just Giving Page

The English Channel is 21.5 miles wide. I was lucky enough to be a part of a 6 person relay called the Watford Ocean Warriors (WOW) who swam to France. How the relay worked was each person swam for 1 hour in rotation until we reached France.

The Channel Swimming Association (CSA) rules state that only a standard swim suit, one hat and a pair of goggles were to be worn during the swim meaning no wetsuits!

We did this massive swim to raise money for the Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care who do a brilliant job and are underfunded. So far we have successfully raised almost £12,500!

We started training in the lake in April when the water temperature was around 14C to gradually build up our cold water acclimatisation.

To be a member of a relay team you need to pass a medical test as well as swim for 2 hours continuously in water less than 15.5C, this qualifying swim is considered harder than the actual relay itself and some of the team took 2 attempts to qualify.

As a junior relay team, all swimmers had to be under sixteen years of age, I was the youngest at 13. We all swim for Watford Swimming Club.

The swim should have taken place on 20 of September but due to the bad weather and high winds we were delayed until the 2nd October. The suspense and waiting was really nerve racking.

Finally we met at the marina at 1am and boarded the boat. It took us 10 minutes to travel to Samphire Hoe, the starting point. During the journey we were told the swim order. I was swimmer number 4.The first swimmer got ready and was escorted to the beach in a dinghy. The sea was rough and it was pitch black. The swimmer wore green flashing lights and we all cheered as they swam. The water was cold and dark for the whole hour that I swam for but I knew I could do it. We had all swam in the dark and in colder waters before.

Everybody swam well, so well that we beat our estimated time. We finished in 9 hrs 40ms and I was the lucky one to swim to the French shore, I just managed to land on Cap Gris - Nez before the tide swept us out.

I learnt the importance of teamwork on the cold mornings training sessions and especially during our swim. I also found that helping and encouraging others really helped me.

Felipe, Year 9