Marlborough accountant completes charity swim to France in just over 12 hours (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Marlborough accountant completes charity swim to France in just over 12 hours
12:00pm Saturday 22nd September 2012 in News
Formar Marlborough schoolgirl Helen Gibbs, who learned to swim with the town’s Penguins Swimming Club, has just achieved her childhood ambition to swim the English Channel.
Ms Gibbs completed the 21 mile crossing from Dover to just south of Calais in 12 hours, 37 minutes.
Now the accountant, who grew up in Ramsbury and lives near Brackley in Northants, is planning another marathon swim in much warmer and less choppy water – the slightly shorter Catalina swim off the coast of California USA.
Ms Gibbs is the daughter of Alistair and Hilary Ewing of Ramsbury. Her father manages Ramsbury Estates and Ramsbury Brewery but the channel swim no-alcohol rules prevented her being fortified with pints of Ramsbury Gold. There was plenty of beer from the Wiltshire brewery, however, for her and her back-up team to celebrate with when she reached the French coast in the dark at 10.37pm.
She set off from the English coast at 10am.
Ms Gibbs was stung by a jelly fish and almost getting tangled in a lobster pot rope off the French coast during the swim, and she did begin to feel unwell at about the halfway stage, but otherwise said she had had a good crossing.
She said the idea of swimming the English Channel, one of the toughest swims in the world, became almost a fixation while she was still at St John’s School in Marlborough.
Ms Gibbs, 33, said: “I read an article when I was about 16 about this lady who had swum the Channel and that gave me the idea of doing it one day.”
Ms Gibbs was a keen competition swimmer with the Penguins but then, after going from St John’s to Warwick University, she gave up the sport for about 15 years.
She said: “About three years ago I remembered the Channel swim challenge. I realised a lot of other people were talking about their achievements and I thought ‘what’s stopping me?’ “I did a lot of research on the internet about swimming the Channel. I met a lot of people through Facebook who had done the swim and I started swimming again in lakes and rivers.”
One of her first big events was the Dart 10k swim in south Devon.
“Two years ago I started going to Dover to meet other Channel aspirants and started driving down there every weekend to train, spending up to five or six hours a day getting used to the conditions,” she said.
Ms Gibbs hopes to raise £5,000 for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and can be sponsored at www.virginmoneygiving.com/HelenGibbs ChannelSwim