Pensioner swims across the Channel in 16 hours

From left, Jeff Conyers, Chris Pitman from Havant, John Tomlinson and  Peter Weedon, who as a team swam the Channel in 16hrs 2mins.
From left, Jeff Conyers, Chris Pitman from Havant, John Tomlinson and Peter Weedon, who as a team swam the Channel in 16hrs 2mins.
Boxer Billy Streets is one of those remembered on the new memorial.

Memorial paying tribute to Portsmouth’s finest boxers to be unveiled this weekend

  • Swimmer, 65, was joined by three other swimmers who took on arduous task
  • Group congratulated by pilot for their accomplishment
0
Have your say

HAIL, thunder, lightning and rain failed to stop a group of pensioners swimming in a relay across one of the busiest shipping channels in the world.

Champion swimmer Chris Pitman joined three other swimmers she had never met before for a gruelling crossing of the English Channel.

It was tough but by the end of it we were elated. The pilot gave us a very rare compliment and said we shouldn’t underestimate what we’ve done

Chris Pitman

The 65-year-old is well-known for her daredevil adventures swimming Lake Windermere at night, around the Isle of Wight and attempting to become the oldest woman to swim the Channel – all with a pacemaker.

And earlier this month she was joined by three swimmers from Bermuda who put out an international call for a fourth person to join their team for the relay Channel swim.

Chris, a swimming instructor from Hulbert Road, Havant, said: ‘We set off from Dover in the early hours of the morning. All four of us are well into our sixties.

‘It was not ideal conditions but we had a very small window to do the swim and the others came from abroad so it put pressure on us to do that particular time.

‘We had a superb pilot who saw us across the Channel very safely in very difficult circumstances.

‘Weather-wise, we had hail, thunder, lightning, rain, force five and six winds with the occasional calm.

‘There were jellyfish all over the place and we got stung a few times but we just kept swimming.’

It took the group 16hrs 2mins with each swimmer doing an hour each with three hours’ rest.

Chris said: ‘We had to sleep in a very slow-moving boat getting tossed about in the waves. I think it was actually better swimming than being on the boat.’

It was one of Chris’ toughest challenges yet. And she had to put her trust in a group of strangers more used to swimming in the warm tropical waters of Bermuda – Jeff Conyers, John Tomlinson and Peter Weedon.

Chris said: ‘It was tough but by the end of it we were elated.

‘The pilot gave us a very rare compliment and said we shouldn’t underestimate what we’ve done, in conditions that are very hard.’