East Devon Babes complete Channel swim

Kathy, Jo and Kate after their swim was complete

Kathy, Jo and Kate after their swim was complete - Credit: Archant

a TRIO of swimming mums fulfilled a lifelong dream when they relayed across the English Channel – and raised more than £5,000 for Sidmouth Lifeboat in the process.

Kate Jackson, Jo Billing and Kathy Anzuino battled seasickness and dodged jellyfish to complete the 19-nautical-mile crossing in 15-and-a-half hours.

After a tense week in Folkestone while they waited for the right conditions, the East Devon Babes were spurred on by friends and family who tracked their progress online.

Kate, of Wiggaton, who started and finished the relay, said: “It is an amazing feeling to know we have achieved such a dream.”

She had wanted to swim the English Channel for as long as she could remember, and soon inspired the ambition in Honiton residents Jo and Kathy.

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The trio met while swimming in the sea at Sidmouth, and now Kate said she would not want to go it alone.

“For a three-person relay of ordinary wives and mothers with no swimming or athletic background we feel pretty proud of ourselves to have achieved it, and in such a good time,” she added.

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“It was pretty exhausting, and we all felt quite wrecked physically, emotionally and mentally.

“They don’t call it the Everest of swimming for nothing!”

The East Devon Babes swam past more jellyfish than their coach, Alan Franks, had ever seen.

They also forced a tanker off course to avoid them, and struggled to get dressed when out of the water, but knocked more than two hours off their predicted time.

Kate reached the French shoreline after ‘achingly slow’ progress, at which point she was overwhelmed with the enormity of their achievement.

“I just felt relief that it was all over and we could go home to our families,” said the swimmer. “I raised my arms in triumph, sat on the rock and cried.

“We just had to get through – for each other, for our family and friends, and for all those people who have so generously donated to the Sidmouth Lifeboat.”

There is still time to support the trio and their worthy cause.

Make a donation at www.eastdevonbabes.co.uk.

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