Monday, 20 September 2021

Man, 64, swims Strait of Gibraltar

A MAN swam between two continents to raise money for a charity.

A MAN swam between two continents to raise money for a charity.

Nigel Downing, 64, from Peppard Common, swam the Strait of Gibraltar, a distance of 17km from Europe to Africa.

He raised more than £5,000 for Mission Aviation Fellowship UK, a Christian charity that uses planes to reach remote places and deliver medical care and aid.

He is one of fewer than 500 people to attempt the challenge and one of only about 10 people over 60 to complete it. It took him four hours and 37 minutes.

Mr Downing, who has been a keen swimmer since he was growing up in South Africa, said the conditions were like a lake despite a poor weather forecast.

He said: ?Once you arrived and stood on the beach staring at Africa it made you think, ?I?ve got to deliver?.

?The weather nearly scuppered it. There are issues with that area because of the wind ? if it blows hard you can?t get across. Another group started and were swept off by the wind.

?I was with quite a slow group and we had to stick together, which we did all the way. It was the most unbelievably fabulous experience.?

Mr Downing, who owns training company ProfitAbility, was in training for the swim for 10 months and took part in Henley Swim?s Bridge to Bridge event.

He regularly trained in the Thames, often getting in at Wallingford, where his business is based, and swimming up and downstream.

Mr Downing thanked his wife Tricia for her support while he was in training.

?There have been a lot of 5am starts with me going out and doing long swims on my own,? he said.

Mr Downing, who flew planes when he was at Cambridge University, said the charity?s work was expensive to fund because of the support systems, mechanics and engineers needed.

?They?re very good at what they do,? he added.

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