Duo in 22-mile ‘crossing’ of English Channel

Published: November 8, 2008  |  Source: thepress.co.uk
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TWO women are swimming the width of the English Channel to raise money for a spinal cord injuries charity.

Fiona Conyers and Eleanor Coultish are among thousands of swimmers across the country who have embarked on an epic challenge to swim the 22-mile distance of the channel in their local swimming pools.

The Aspire Channel Swim, now in its ninth year, is the UK’s largest annual sponsored swimming event.

Fiona, from Nafferton, East Yorkshire, told today how she had been inspired to take part in the swim after she was involved in a car accident three years ago which she was lucky to walk away from.

“I have six children and a busy life, and if I had sustained a spinal injury my life would have totally changed and the effect on my family would have been devastating,” said Fiona, 45, a drug action officer, who is doing the swim at Driffield Leisure Centre.

“Lots of people are not as lucky as I was. I hope to raise as much as I can to support Aspire.”

Eleanor, 33, an IT support technician from Riccall, near Selby, is swimming at the David Lloyd centre, in York, formerly known as Next Generation.

She said: “I’m doing the Aspire Channel Swim to raise money for a very worthwhile cause and, in the process will hopefully build up my own fitness level. “I’ve never been a very strong swimmer, but my technique is improved dramatically. I’m enjoying the swimming so much I think I will continue to swim after I have completed the challenge.”

Eleanor said she was managing about 40-50 lengths each time she went to the pool – just under a mile.

The swimmers have until December 7 to complete 22 miles and help Aspire reach its target of £500,000.

Aspire spokeswoman Rosie Cotton said: “Every year the money raised from the Aspire Channel Swim goes towards helping people with spinal cord injuries. “Aspire makes a difference by providing a number of practically based projects designed to ensure that the spinally injured have many of their immediate and future needs met, so that they can start and continue to live their lives as independently as possible.” She said spinal cord injury had a devastating effect on the 1,200 people who became paralysed each year. “The individual affected will lose muscle and sensory control and the vast majority become full time wheelchair users for the rest of their lives.”

• To sponsor Eleanor, visit www.justgiving.com/eleanorcoultish

By Mike Laycock