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Gary Fortune avatar
Gary Fortune

Gary's Solo cross channel swim

I am swimming the channel solo this time for Wiltshire Mind because Outdoor swimming can help your mental health

133 %
£1,470.92
raised of £1,100 target
by 65 supporters
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Wiltshire Mind

We provide services to help those with mental health issues

Charity Registration No. 1113751

Story

Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page.

Some of you know that I have been training to swim the channel from Dover to France (21 miles) as a solo swimmer without a wetsuit and it’s going to happen soon, early August or before (weather dependent). I am financing this myself as it’s clearly something I want to do, so I can assure you that every penny you donate will go to the charity.
Most have asked why.... well here goes. The main reason is so that I can raise money for two charities that mean something to me. The first is RNLI, which is really obvious why, they do so much good work and most forget they are a charity. We take the beach support and lifesaving missions for granted, putting their own lives at risk to save others. The second is MIND, that’s not so obvious, many people go through life living with mental health issues, some triggered by life events or perhaps stress plus many more, I’m not a doctor. Open water swimming gives you a great adrenalin high and therefore has been linked to helping people’s mental health. Whilst I do not suffer from this illness many do and have said that open water swimming is a great healer. I think I can see why :-) So this is about raising awareness and hopefully helping people through their recovery.
I have met so many lovely people through open water swimming, all ages, shapes and sizes and what’s best about it, nobody cares what you look like. No need to be body conscious :-)
Why the channel, well there’s a story there too.... 10 years ago, I ran a couple of marathons and loved the feeling I got from it, unfortunately I damaged my Achilles and haven’t been able to run long distances since. But it got me thinking about what next (always been an adrenalin junky). I wanted to do something that isn’t so common, so thought about swimming the channel. I looked into it and figured that my confidence out weighed my ability by a factor of at least 1000 ( nobody told me you have to be able to swim properly!!!). That dream was parked until a great friend of my Alexandra Hayden phone me up in 2015 and asked if I wanted to swim the channel as a relay of 6, and with a lot of training, perhaps I could swim a 6th of it. So I said yes and then went to the pool, it was then that I realised I could only swim 2 lengths of a 25 meter pool and had to stop for a breather (oh dear what have I done?). 1 year later, we swam the channel (21 miles) as a team of 5 (one person had to drop out). During training, Alex and I joined a fantastic cross channel swim club called Durley Sea Swims where I met the most inspiring people I have ever met. All very supportive and among people who were either training to swim the channel or have got that badge. It was a privilege to be amongst so many great people who never belittled our challenge. We swam the channel as a relay, I loved it and immediately signed up when we got back to swim a solo. The work started then, improving technique, overcoming the cold of the sea, swimming in the winter without a wetsuit, the whole nine yards..... I had two goals for this year, one is to swim the channel and the other is to remain married, I’m still married and have Diane to thank for that because this training has taken soooo much time. In the winter, swimming 25km (that’s about 10 hours) in the pool per week and from May, every weekend in the sea training and acclimatising, building up to 6 hours on each weekend day. All with the support from the club and Diane spotting for me at the local lake up to 6 hours at a time (she needs a medal and has read a lot of books). I have been building on my training since the relay in 2016, in 2017 Alex, Clare (also part of the relay) and I swam the length of Coniston lake which is 5.25 miles (1/4 of the channel) again without a wetsuit, 12 months later (2018), I swam Windermere which is 11 miles (1/2 of the channel), you guested it, without a wetsuit and here we are.... I have pulled all my friends into this. Bill Johnston got a kayaking qualification just so that he could support me swimming the length of Ulswater (7 miles) and the length Windermere (11 miles), he didn’t have to but he did, I am forever in your debt and really mean that.
The commitment of my friends doesn’t stop there, Alex, Bill and Mike Harris (a great friend from work) are going to be on the support boat, throwing food and drink at me to keep me going (I’m not allowed to touch the boat), Diane’s not going to be on the boat as when it get tough she will just want me out. I land on the French coast somewhere, pick up a pebble or rock as a memory and get in the support boat straight back to England.....Done!

So You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it and have the support of all the people around you. Four years ago, I couldn’t swim 2 lengths of a standard pool front crawl without needing a rest, now I’m attempting to swim the channel, you CAN achieve your dreams :-)

So my final plea is for you to dig deep and give to these great charities please :-)

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