A SHOREHAM teenager’s Channel swimming dream has finally come true – and next year, she aims to go one better.
Lois Harrison, 16, was part of a Brighton Swimming Club relay team to complete the 21-mile crossing.
The success was the icing on the cake for Lois, having been part of a relay team that had to stop half way across in an attempt made a year ago.
Lois said: “Disappointingly, my first attempt to swim the Channel as a relay failed last July when a member of the team became sick.
“I was absolutely gutted as we had otherwise been swimming well and with the sea being beautifully calm, we had made it half way across to the shipping lanes in good time.”
Determined to try again, she said the training then coincided with her GCSEs, which she has just completed at Davison High School in Worthing.
The exams were an added complication, but she kept up her fitness training in the pool during the winter and practised swimming in the sea from April onwards, getting used to the cold temperature.
She made up a team of six with Peter Tuffin, Andy King, Bill Warner, Dan McCarthy and Max Andrews to complete the Channel swim on July 8.
“When we left Dover Marina at 5.30am, I was feeling very excited and determined to suceed,” she said.
“The Channel crossing was actually more mentally challenging than physically difficult. To get past the jelly fish and thoughts of simply not knowing what was out there in the water beneath and around me, I had to focus on completing the challenge, my relay team members, the sponsor money I had raised and just not giving up.
“The salt made my mouth sore, leaving me feeling constantly thirsty when in the water, and as I swam each stroke, my hands filled with tiny fish which took some getting used to.”
The team took it in turn to do hour-long swims from an open-backed fishing vessel.
Lois said: “The shipping lane was busy but the open water is a great and free place to be and the feeling of achieving your goals against the elements is fantastic.
“I was so happy when we completed the swim in a faster than average time of 11 hour and 21 minutes. I wanted to do more and be in the water longer.”
Now, Lois is planning to swim the whole length of the English Channel herself next year and is already in training while she looks for sponsors.
Lois said: “On Sunday, I arranged with my coach, Fiona Southwell, to attempt a solo Channel swim for next year.
“But for this year, I have chosen to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund to protect our seas and rainforests. Any donations always welcome (www.justgiving.com/lois-Harrison).”