Channel swim triumph

PUBLISHED: 16:19 19 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:30 10 June 2010

TUESDAY, AUGUST 19: A 27-year-old Exmouth swimmer has achieved a life-long ambition to swim the English Channel. Mark Westaway, a member of Exmouth Swimming and Lifesaving Society, set off from Shakespeare Beach, in Dover, and took 12 hours 51 minutes to swim the 30-mile dis

A 27-year-old Exmouth swimmer has achieved a life-long ambition to swim the English Channel.Mark Westaway, a member of Exmouth Swimming and Lifesaving Society, set off from Shakespeare Beach, in Dover, and took 12 hours 51 minutes to swim the 30-mile distance to Tardinghen beach, in France.Mark, who battled against eight-foot high waves and driving rain to achieve his dream, said the swim had been the hardest - and proudest - moment of his life."You need a lot of self-determination to do something like this but you also rely on people to work out your training schedule, time your swims, take care of your nutrition and generally make sure you are in the right condition to get across the Channel," said Mr Westaway. For the first half of the swim the wind was behind Mark. As he neared the French coast the weather worsened and he was forced to contend with high waves, strong currents and a changing tide which forced him back out to sea.Encouraged by his support team, Mark fought against the conditions and his tiredness. Doing so, he became the fourth solo swimmer the Exmouth and Lifesaving Society has prepared for such a challenge. An Exmouth Swimming and Lifesaving Society spokesperson said: "Years of tough, dedicated training have gone into the preparation for this incredible sporting success. Mark put in hundreds of lengths a week and many miles of sea swimming off the coast at Budleigh Salterton. With other long distance swimming friends from the Exmouth club, he also competed in marathon training events in the Lake District."Trained by open water coach Alan Franks, Mark wore only trunks, goggles and grease while swimming The Channel. No other protective clothing or flotation equipment was allowed under the rules set by the Channel Swimming Association (CSA). A CSA observer was part of the team on board the support trawler. Drink and food were handed to Mark at intervals during the crossing but there was no contact permitted with the boat or any other person.

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