A SWIMMER from Malmesbury will be taking on ferries and jellyfish as he attempts to cross the world’s busiest shipping lane.
Andy Pointer, 48, will be taking part in his second channel crossing later this month, with his friend Helen Braid, for charity.
The pair took on the famous crossing three years ago doing a six person relay, where each swimmer swam for an hour before swapping.
This time around they will be doing it as a pair, swimming in two hour bursts.
The crossing took the six person team more than 17 hours to complete last time, so Andy and Helen have been training hard to replicate the feat.
Andy has been chairman of the Malmesbury Marlins swimming group for four years, and says the club provides him with the inspiration to take on such a gruelling challenge.
“In terms of training it’s been a rocky road,” said Andy.
“Helen had an ankle sprain recently and I had major surgery just before Christmas and tore a hamstring in April. So it’s been fraught.
“We’re doing as much as is humanly possible but we are not born athletes, we are the underdogs.
“The problem is no matter how much training you do, you don’t tend to get jellyfish and P&O ferries in local rivers.
“There is not an emotion that exists that we didn’t go through during the last crossing.”
The pair will be taking on the challenge at some point during the last week of August, when they will be given 12 hours notice once conditions become favourable.
“Any channel challenge is very condition linked,” explained Andy.
“You can be lucky and have a millpond day, but current wise it can turn against you at the wrong times.
“Mentally you don’t get that massive build up, so it can be a shock to the system when you’re suddenly called down to Dover to swim.”
Three months after finishing their last channel crossing Helen’s father died from a heart attack. She contacted Andy afterwards to ask if I wanted to cross the channel again to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.
At the same time Andy’s son had been given an honourable discharged from the army due to injury.
As a result the pair agreed this channel crossing would be raising money for the British Heart Foundation, Combat Stress and Malmesbury based charity HEALS.
For Andy’s son Joe, 24, readjusting to life outside the army remains a struggle.
“Joe lost three of his comrades in the first week of his first tour,” said Andy.
“Post-traumatic stress disorder can manifest in strange ways, so far after event. Having the guilt of missing action is a constant battle.
“The mental side of war is the focus of Combat stress, who are an underfunded and valuable charity.”
Money donated to the pair’s fundraising efforts will be split between the three charities once some costs for the trip are covered, though many costs have been paid out of their own pockets.
Andy is appealing to businesses and residents to join in with the fundraising efforts. To support the pair, visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/Braid-Pointer
Authors: Wilts & Glos Standard