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Mother defies jellyfish to swim Channel
Published 18/08/14

A WOMAN battled sickness and jellyfish stings to swim the Channel for charity.

Hannah Young, 37, of High Street, Wargrave, completed the 20-mile swim from Dover to Sangatte in 15 hours and three minutes, despite spending the first six hours of the challenge being violently sick.

Afterwards, the mother-of-two revealed she had come close to quitting.

Mrs Young set off from Dover at around 4am with husband Paul and friends Melanie Hall, Pete Lowe and Tyler Jenkins following in a support boat.

She was joined in the water by individual members of the quartet for different periods during the swim.

“It was harder than I thought,” said Mrs Young.

“I knew I would find it physically tiring and I thought boredom would play a part but I ended up being sick for the first part so I certainly wasn’t bored.

“The first six hours were pretty hellish but I got into my stride and enjoyed the middle part. I was swimming really strongly then.

“I was stung by jellyfish on my arms, which was pretty painful. I could just feel a burning sensation but at least it gave me something to think about and was better than being sick.

“In the final few miles I had the tide against me so I had to swim as hard as I could to make land. If you aren’t going to make it that’s where it happens.

“I could see the coast but it didn’t seem to be getting any closer. I kept thinking that it was just like swimming in the River Thames upstream — if you don’t stop you will get there eventually.

“I went past Wissant beach and ended up at Sangatte, where there was a tiny bit of space at the bottom of the cliffs where I could get out. I had thought I would be weeping with joy but instead there was exhaustion, relief and disbelief that I had done it.”

Mrs Young, who trained for the swim for up to 15 hours a week in the Thames, blamed her nausea on pre-swim nerves and seasickness.

She said: “I’ve been sick on practice swims so I was anticipating it but it was every 10 minutes for hours.

“I was sheltered on one side of the boat to protect myself from the wind and waves but the fumes were also blowing my way, which probably contributed to it.

“After two-and-a-half hours I thought it would be an impossible task. The Dover cliffs are very big and you don’t feel like you are moving away from them but I told myself I couldn’t just stop and decided that wasn’t going to happen. Also knowing so many people were watching me on the tracker kept me going.

“I swam in between retching and in the end I didn’t have any of my energy drinks, just black tea with sugar and later a banana.” After finishing, Mrs Young picked up a souvenir pebble from the beach before taking a boat back to England.

“When we got back I just crawled into bed,” she said. “I couldn’t walk the next day and my mouth and throat were very painful.”

She thanked her husband, an IT manager, and daughters Emily, seven, and Annie, five, for their support.

“Paul and the kids think it’s brilliant and I had a great reception back at home,” said Mrs Young. “I still can’t quite believe what I did, it blows my mind.”

Mrs Young, who took up open water swimming in 2009 after Annie was born, was raising money for a new 200,000 swimming pool at the site of the new Robert Piggott infant and junior schools in Wargrave. Her daughters attend the infant school. She has raised 12,000 so far.

To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/hannah-young-channel-swim

Published 18/08/14

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