Army Cross-Channel swimmers prepare on Yorkshire’s East Coast

26 July 2011

A team of soldiers from the Army Foundation College in Harrogate will swim along Yorkshire’s East Coast tomorrow (Wednesday 27July) as they continue their preparations for swimming the English Channel in September.

The troops will complete five one-mile swims in the North Sea at Withernsea, Bridlington, Filey, Scarborough and Whitby as part of their progression from swimming in inland lakes to coastal waters.

The team from the Army Foundation College in Harrogate that will attempt to swim the English Channel in September 


Three members of staff from the Penny Pot Lane barracks hope to become the first Army swimmers to complete an individual Channel crossing since Captain Matthew Webb in 1875.  A separate team of six will swim the minimum 35,200-metre distance (19nm or 21 land miles) for two hours at a time as part of a relay.

Team manager Warrant Officer Class 2 Lee Sawyer (pictured left) explained:

“The whole reason for swimming the Channel is to support two charities that we’ve chosen as a team – ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, which is clearly close to our hearts being serving personnel, and the Special Care Baby Unit at Harrogate District Hospital.  We’re trying to raise in excess of £30,000 to be split equally between them both.”

The 34-year-old from York continued:

“When my own daughter was born at Harrogate District Hospital I thought what better way to show them my appreciation than to do something extraordinary to support the good work that they do?”

Major Steve Wall, Officer Commanding the College’s Cambrai Company, is also attempting the full Channel swim in September.  He said:

“I have always enjoyed physical challenges and this is my biggest one yet.

“I will have to contend with the tide, weather, seasickness and jellyfish as well as simply navigating the world’s busiest stretch of water.”

He added:

“Amazingly, more people have reached the top of Everest than have successfully swam the English Channel.”

The Army Foundation College is located at Uniacke Barracks on Penny Pot Lane, Harrogate.  The College trains more than 1,200 Junior Soldiers each year over a 42-week course, providing the 16 and 17-year-olds with military training and vocational education ahead of a career in the British Army.



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