Louise raises hospital funds with Channel swim

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A Bury St Edmunds swimming teacher has joined a select group after completing her swim across the English Channel.

Louise Stratford swam the 21-gruelling mile solo swim — dubbed ‘the Everest of open-water swimming’ on September 3 in 17 hours, nine minutes and 46 seconds.

The Rickinghall-based Abbeycroft Leisure Centre teacher undertook the Dover-to-Calais challenge in memory of her uncle, Stephen Rose, who lost his battle to bowel cancer at the age of 53 in December 2010.

She originally set a fund-raising target of £500 to raise towards refurbishing the chemotherapy outpatient clinics and day unit in the Woolverstone Wing of Ipswich Hospital where he was treated, but has now raised £1,498.

Of her emotions on reaching Calais under the cover of darkness, having set out at 6.45am, she said: “To be honest I was mainly relieved that I had made it.

“I had missed at least a couple of tides and I was waiting thinking I may even have to go next year and do another year of training.”

The 33-year-old had originally been down to start her swim on a tide between August 14-18, but unsafe conditions meant she had to be on standby until eventually travelling down to Dover to start on September 2, only to face a 24-hour delay before she finally got going.

“After the long wait I was just quite pleased to be getting on doing it,” she said.

“It was a lovely sunny day and the sea was quite calm.

“I enjoyed most of it, until it got dark and then it got tougher.”

Stratford, who swims for Diss Otters in masters events, was accompanied by a mandatory pilot boat with her partner Julian Harvey and friends Alison Carr and Caroline Sims on board.

Her training included completing the Hellespont crossing from Europe to Asia.

Sponsorship can still be added to her Just Giving page at: www.justgiving.com/

n Mildenhall and District Swimming Club Sharks achieved 31 personal bests from 49 swims in the Nifty Fifties Gala at Thetford on September 8.

Isabelle Morissette and Jemma Garry achieved personal bests in all of their five swims, while Sam Buckles gained two second places, two thirds and a fourth.

Jennifer Eagles earned a second place and Ffion Lewis-Dimmock a fifth place in their respective age groups.

The Junior Fenland League team made their way to Peterborough on Saturday for the fifth round.

In the 100m individual medley, Sophia Colasante turned third place into second in the final straight.

There were a number of close races, mainly between Mildenhall and City of Peterborough B team, but overall points placed Hall in fifth.