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Tackling the English Channel

FOR most people, the English Channel is simply the stretch of water that separates southern England from northern France.

But for Geilston Bay local Jayde Richardson, this 34-kilometre piece of open ocean represents a dream and a challenge that she has been working toward for years.

Later this month, Ms Richardson will travel to Dover in England where she will swim for at least 10 consecutive hours across the English Channel to Calais, France.

In doing so, she will become the second Tasmanian woman to have ever managed the feat.

Ms Richardson said she had spent most of her life in the water.

“I started at four months of age during water orientation and haven’t left since,” she said.

“Swimming the Channel has always been a far-fetched idea in the back of my mind and then after competing in the Open Water Nationals in 2017, I thought, ‘I can do this’.

“The English Channel is pretty much the Mount Everest of open ocean swimming – it’s the big one you want to tick off your bucket list.”

In preparation for the swim – which will happen anywhere between 20-28 September – Ms Richardson has spent the past two years averaging between one to three hours of swimming a day.

“I feel like I have been ready for a while and now I’m just raring to go,” she said.

But swimming the English Channel does not come without obstacles – it is, after all, known as the busiest shipping route in the world.

“I will have a skipper with me who has the important job of navigating me safely across the Channel,” Ms Richardson said.

“He’ll pre-plot my swim by taking into account the vessels that are due to be passing through versus the speed that I’m swimming – he’s going to make sure I don’t suddenly look up and have a massive ship in front of me.

“But, other than navigating the ships and the distance I need to swim, I imagine it will all go pretty smoothly.

“I think it’ll take something catastrophic like a medical emergency or a tsunami for me not to make it.”

Ms Richardson has dedicated her swim to Speak Up! Stay ChatTY! and has now raised more than $10,500.

“I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to raise money for something, but I just didn’t know what,” she said.

“But at the end of 2016, I lost my cousin to suicide and that was really what prompted me to throw myself into swimming the Channel.

“So, this swim is really in memory of him and to raise awareness and keep the conversation going around mental health, which is such a prevalent issue today.”

In addition to achieving this goal for her own personal satisfaction, Ms Richardson said she wanted her swim to encourage other people to follow their dreams.

“I want to inspire others, not necessarily to do the same, but to go after their dreams and set the bar high,” she said.

For more information about SPEAK UP! Stay ChaTY, visit staychatty.com.au.

Caption: Jayde Richardson, of Geilston Bay, will swim the English Channel later this month.