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13 November 2014

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You are in: Wear > Children in Need > Swimming the channel for Pudsey

Pudsey swimming

Children produced posters for the team

Swimming the channel for Pudsey

Five men from the County Durham area have been pushing themselves to the limit for Children in Need.

Dedication is probably the word to describe not only getting up at 6am to raise money for Children in Need, but the training involved in tackling such a challenge.

Neil Martin, Kelvin McArdle, Frank Whitelock, Paul Turner and John Hutchinson teamed up to swim the length of the English channel... in Durham.

"Kelvin had some friends in Consett who were doing a similar thing, but it was an idea that came about because from what David Walliams had done in 2006, only we didn't have to worry about jellyfish!" joked Neil.

Neil and Kelvin

Neil and Kelvin after eight miles

The task was to swim the length of the English channel (roughly 1,344 lengths of the 25m pool) at the swimming pool at Aykley Heads Police Training Headquarters in Durham.

Although the conditions were quite different from being out in the cold waters of the channel, 10 hours and 22 minutes later Neil submerged from the heated pool having beaten David Walliams' time.

Kelvin, Frank and Paul managed 26 miles between them giving the group a total of 47 miles - the equivalent of crossing the channel twice!

Testing conditions

Although they didn't have to battle through strong currents, freezing waters or avoid the occasional tanker or ferry, it is something that was both physically and mentally demanding.

Frank Whitlock, Paul Turner and Neil Martin

Frank Whitlock, Paul Turner and Neil Martin

"I think to beat that time is great, but what you have to remember is we got to push off a wall every so often whereas David was out there struggling against all sorts of things," explained Neil.

The group had been training hard for over two months leading up to the event and hope to do the swim each year for Children in Need.

Neil continues: "In training we started off doing 100 metre sets and steadily increased it, we are all quite physically fit.

"Kelvin and I swim on a regular basis and Frank is a triathlete but we all had a decent level of fitness when we started training."

The swimmers had breaks to either grab something to eat or answer the occasional call of nature. However, unlike David Walliams, the group did not think about covering themselves in goose fat during the 21 mile swim.

"Luckily we didn't need anything like that because the pool was heated, I wouldn't have fancied being covered in that," added Neil.

Don't forget to visit Sunderland's Aquatic Centre on Friday 14 November and tell us what you have been doing for Children in Need.

last updated: 06/11/2008 at 10:19
created: 30/10/2008

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