An Ancaster athlete has completed one of the greatest sporting challenges by swimming The English Channel.
Sam Bainbridge, 23, completed the solo swim in 22 hours on Friday, July 31.
The successful crossing, which started from Dover Harbour at 7.30 am, was the fulfilment of a long-held ambition for Sam, a former member of Grantham Swimming Club.
The trainee secondary school teacher previously completed a relay swim across the 22-mile waterway in 2010 with then fellow students from St George’s Academy in Sleaford. Sam was so inspired by the experience he was determined to attempt a solo effort.
After deciding to give it a go Sam completed a six-hour swim on Lake Windermere to meet the qualifying standards of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, who oversee official swims between England and France. And in the run-up to the attempt he embarked on a gruelling training schedule involving two swims a day, in early mornings and late evenings at local pools.
Sam had to fit the training in with his temporary job at Sainsbury’s supermarket in Grantham but he said this week the hard work had all been worth it. He said: “To complete the swim is an incredible feeling.
“Conditions on Friday were not ideal because it was a full moon, which affected the tides.
“There were eight boats with swimmers attempting crossings that day and we were the only ones to be successful,
“The conditions meant that three times we missed our landing but I never thought about giving up.
“I was determined to complete the swim and just concentrated on getting through each half-hour, when the next water bottle was due.”
Limited space on the escort boat meant Sam’s girlfriend Jessica Gibson was unable to accompany him on the crossing, but Sam says her encouragement for the venture was invaluable.
Sam, who is shortly to take up a post as a trainee history teacher at a secondary school in Horncastle, was sponsored for the swim and has so far raised £1,300 for Rainbows Hospice for terminally ill children.
As well as being an outstanding swimmer, Sam also competes for Grantham Athletics Club in events including pentathlon. And he is hoping to complete more epic swims in the future, including the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay.
You can contribute to Sam’s fund-raising for Rainbows Hospice by going to the website:www.justgiving.com/Sam-Bainbridge-Channel-Swim