Three Swakopmund women will attempt to swim across the English Channel, and in the process make history when they brave the icy waters in a first ever two-way swim attempt.
The intention of their water adventure is to raise awareness for the protection of the environment.
The English Channel is the body of water that separates southern England from northern France and joins the southern part of the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
Through the ‘Strokes for Earth’ campaign Bobby-Jo Bassingthwaighte, Sandy Le Roux and Ulla Gossow-Buttner – all in their 40s – are about to undertake an extraordinary feat of bravery and endurance to cross the English Channel. The swimming trio will depart on 19 August to England and swim out from ‘Shakespeare Beach’ in Dover, where they will embark on a three-day swim return swim across the English Channel to France from August 26-28. They will complete the swim in relays over a period of three days, which they have translated into over 30 hours of swimming to cover the 90-kilometre stretch of water, there and back. Bobby Jo, Ulla and Sandy will be the first three women in the world to ever attempt a two-way crossing through the icy English Channel, and have been affiliated as Namibian swimmers by the Channel Swimming Association (CSA) – the international governing body which lays down strict regulations for swimmers across the channel.
The build-up to the swim is intense, with daily training taking place from the Mole Beach where they swim multiple laps of up to one hour at a time through the cold Atlantic Ocean, which equals English Channel temperatures of 11 degrees.
They will also meet before the sun is up on intermittent days to put in their strokes at the Olympic size swimming pool at the old Rössing Country Club. Being from Swakopmund, they are systematically acclimatising their bodies to the uncomfortable cold temperatures both inside the water and out, and for that extra bit of drama they have opted to wear swimming costumes instead of wet suits. Training and planning started back in August last year, but gathered momentum in March, as the swimmers worked on sharpening their fitness levels as well as preparing themselves mentally for what lies ahead.
As time draws closer so does the level of their stringent practise regime to ultimately groom them for a test of endurance against some of the most gruelling conditions.
Specially designed black full piece costumes with the Namibian flag are on order, and will be worn by the three swimmers.
“Swimming the English Channel is fraught with dangers and unexpected problems, “ said Bobby Jo, who was the first Namibian woman to ever swim and finish the English Channel crossing in 1999, and knows exactly what she is talking about.