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Bucks boys swim English Channel
TWO Dr Challoner’s pupils came up with a grand plan to fill the time while waiting for their A level results – swim The English Channel.
Toby Emerson and Marcus Hazelwood made the 34-mile crossing last week, swimming in two-hour relays after taking the plunge into Dover harbour at 3am.
Emerson said: “Marcus and I came up with the idea on an Amersham Swimming Club camp.
“I don’t know if he said it first or if I did, but we were 15 and came back from the camp feeling invincible.”
The pair began preparing for the crossing with early morning swims at Denham Lake, before graduating to a two-hour swim in Dover harbour – a prerequisite for anyone hoping to cross The Channel.
Emerson said: “We’re both from a swimming background so had that inherent fitness, but for me, because I was doing the first leg, the big thing was swimming for two hours and not being able to see anything.
“It was all psychological and I did a lot of swimming with blackened goggles to get used to the dark so there were no issues.”
A jellyfish sting before even leaving the harbour didn’t bode well, but the pair kept going into the world’s busiest waterway.
Emerson said: “At one point an 11,000-container tanker came within 100m of us. I was on the boat at the time and we compared it to an apartment block. It was absolutely massive and sent 1.5m waves over us.
“Then later we had a pod of 15-30 dolphins came by. They swam right under us and the closest must have been about a metre away.
“Marcus was in the water at the time and he said he saw two fins coming towards him and thought, ‘I’m just going to keep going’.
“We were shouting that it was ok, that they were dolphins, but when you first see the fins you do think, ‘oh god’.”
In the end it was all worth it though. At 2.37pm they hit land at Le Griz Nez, near Calais, having raised nearly £8,000 for The Stroke Association and the local William’s Fund Emerson said: “The cold started to get to me on my second stint and I remember thinking there was such a long way to go.
“I’d tried to eat something and thrown it straight back up so I was lacking energy too, but we’d been building up to it for two years.
“At the end, although we were exhausted we still had the thrill and buzz of finishing.
“But we’ve both said we won’t do it again. We have been thinking about the Straits of Gibralter though.”