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.
  • Swimmer, 65, was joined by three other swimmers who took on arduous task
  • Group congratulated by pilot for their accomplishment
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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.’