Teenager Felicity Challinor has received an award after braving seawater and jellyfish to swim the Channel last September as part of a relay team.
The 14-year-old pupil of St Mary’s School, Calne, was part of the youngest and fastest relay team to cross the Channel in 2013 and was recognised at an awards ceremony in Dover on March 15.
Her team, called ‘Six girls no buoys’, was made up of girls aged 13 to 14. They reached France in 13 hours, six minutes and 19 seconds.
Felicity, who has been swimming since she was three, swam two relay legs and was the team member chosen to swim ashore in France.
She said: “As a relay team we weren’t the first and we weren’t the last so we didn’t think we would get an award. When they called our names we were so shocked.
“I remember looking at the girl I was sitting next to and thinking ‘what?’ It was like winning an Oscar. Everyone stood up which was amazing, we got a standing ovation.”
Felicity is an experienced open-water swimmer and has also swum the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park in a Christmas Day race.
She is a member of the Serpentine Swimming Club and was asked to join the Channel swimming team by club coach Rob Ouldcott, a veteran cross-Channel swimmer.
She was supported on the day by St Mary’s swimming coach Deb German, her mum, dad, and 11-year-old sister who rolled out a red carpet for her return to England.
Felicity said: “For me it wasn’t the temperature I was worried about... you have to cope with the salt, wind and waves, the length of time in the water and the cold. Mentally you have to be really strong to stay in the water and keep swimming.
“We set off at 5am and it was pretty much flat all the way apart from the last bit, which was really choppy. You had to cling onto the boat to stop yourself falling in.
Miss Challinor raised £3,625 for the Make a Wish Foundation through her swim.
To donate visit www.just giving.com/Felicity-Challinor1.