Christine Bradley from Silsden, near Keighley, completed the epic swim in just under 19 hours raising over £1,650 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
“Swimming the English Channel has always been a dream of mine,” said Christine. “My Dad brought home a tattered old book from the library called ‘It’s Cold in the Channel’ which he used to read to me and I told him one day I would do it.”
Christine loved swimming as a child but that all came to an end at the age of 12 when she was hit by an articulated lorry on her way home from school.
“My injuries were pretty gruesome and very nearly caused me to lose my leg,” said 50-year-old Christine. “With massive scars behind my knee I couldn’t face the embarrassment of going back in the pool or wearing shorts”.
“This psychological block stayed with me for a further 36 years until my Dad got me into jogging and I started taking part in a range of running events and going to the gym – provided I could keep my legs covered.”
That changed in 2012 when Mum-of-two Christine was introduced to the sport of triathlon and plucked up the courage to start swimming again.
She soon rediscovered her childhood love of being in the water – so much so that she packed in her job as an IT Service Desk manager to become a fitness instructor and swimming and triathlon coach.
Getting back in the water also rekindled that childhood dream of swimming the Channel. In 2015 Christine and three triathlon friends completed the Channel Relay – “not a pleasant experience with a rough crossing and everyone suffering from sickness” – and three months ago she finally completed a solo crossing.
In temperatures ranging from 16-18 degrees, Christine set off from Dover at 3am and did not get out of the water again for another 18 hours and 56 minutes.
“My Dad got me into jogging and I started taking part in a range of running events and going to the gym – provided I could keep my legs covered. Although the Channel is 21 miles across her swim was nearly 40 miles because of the tides and she completed a whopping 66,120 arm strokes”.
“Training in Ilkley Lido, which is always freezing, did acclimatise me a bit but I did feel really cold at times,” added Christine.
“I will never be the fastest swimmer or runner in the world but I am very determined and will always get there in the end. Half the battle is in your head with endurance sports.
“You have a support boat but you can’t have physical contact with it or any support crew, so feeds were passed to me by a fishing line. At my lowest points I was so tired I worried about falling asleep while swimming but I just kept going and I now I can say I am a solo Channel swimmer which is just amazing”
Indeed Christine, who has been nominated for the 2016 Yorkshire Choice Sporting Achievement Award, is part of a very elite group. More people have climbed Mount Everest than have swum the English Channel.
Her remarkable achievement has also raised nearly £1,700 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and over £1,200 for Pancreatic Cancer Research.
She added: “I am very lucky to be here, to have full mobility and to be able to take on these physical challenges so I wanted to give a little back”.
“My Mum died of pancreatic cancer and I also wanted to support a local charity that is there to help anyone at any time which is what the Yorkshire Air Ambulance does. It is particularly vital to people living in rural communities like ours.”
Big thanks to Christine from the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, for your endurance, determination and commitment, well done!