Taunton one of the youngest teams to complete English Channel swim

The team raised money for The Neonatal Unit at Musgrove Park Hospital

Twelve girls and boys from Taunton Preparatory School in Somerset have swum the English Channel and are one of the youngest teams ever to complete it.

Swimming in two teams of six, they set off from the shores of Dover and accomplished the 21-mile Relay Team Crossing largely during the night through choppy waters, arriving in France at sunrise.

The Channel 4 celebrity ‘Sink or Swim’ team set off at the same time as the pupils, so they were able to get advice from Ross Edgley, the celebrity team’s coach.

The money raised will go to The Neonatal Unit at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton. Many of the students were born at the maternity unit in Musgrove and so far, they have raised almost £5,000.

The squad began their endurance pool-based training in May 2018 and then undertook acclimatisation training at Wiveliscombe outdoor pool over the Christmas holidays. Since then they have completed over 300 hours each of training in Clevedon and Lyme Regis, as well as in the school’s two swimming pools several times a week.

The students were supported by Taunton School’s long-distance swim coach Hamish McCarthy, who is an experienced open water swimming coach.

McCarthy said: “When you’re 10 years of age and you make the decision to train for the English Channel it’s aspirational; when you are then 12 and swim most of it at night it’s just extraordinary, a great feat of courage and resilience.

“I believe our students are one of the youngest teams to have undertaken a Channel relay swim since the rules changed some 30 years ago. Many of our pupils only turned 12 in July and August. Having spoken to Channel Swimming and Pilots Federation staff, they didn’t know of another team that has been younger. It really is an incredibly overwhelming achievement.”

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