Economy Class to France

“Economy Class to France” are a relay team of 6 swimming the English Channel in August this year.

Team: - Jan Briggs owner Eden Valley Vet Lab, vets Alex & Steve Kirby, and Matt Colston, team swim coach and fireman Kevin Burns and Scott Creighton.

Reserve members: - Vets Finbarr Greene and Hamish Marsden and fireman Darren Wright

Support crew: - Angela Murray CEO Age UK Carlisle & Eden and Life Coach Danny Dobson

After swimming the Great North Swim 18 months ago doing breast stroke I had the mad idea to then tackle the English Channel for my 50th birthday this year. Alex had been out with me training and between us the plan was born. Cumbrian victims were hard to pin down so we spread the net further afield with Alex’s brother Steve from Ilkley coming on board, a chance meeting with Kevin at the Great North Swim in June resulted in him and his training partner Scott joining us and Matt completed the team.

Finbarr, Hamish and Darren are our reserve swimmers and will train alongside us to be on hand in case anyone has to pull out.

We will be escorted across the Channel by pilot Eddie Spelling with his boat a 43ft motor cruiser called “Anastasia”. It’s his job to decide when weather conditions are optimum to swim and to safely guide us through the busiest shipping route in the world.

The swimmers will swim alongside the boat with carefully executed change overs closely watched by the observer. We will each swim for 1 hour at a time in rotation and will hopefully cross the 21 miles in under 12  hours. No wetsuits allowed only standard swimming costume for me and speedos for the boys.

Also on board will be an official observer whose job it is to ensure all Channel swimming rules and regulations are adhered to and to record every aspect of our swim. Angela and Danny will provide the team with everything, from a bucket for sea sickness to first aid for jelly fish stings, they will  help with moral and motivation and keep us all fed and watered.

We vary greatly in ability from me who couldn’t do front crawl or put my face in the water 18 months ago to Kevin who swam for the national youth team. I’ve learnt to do front crawl and last year whilst swimming in several competition swims got my time down from 53 minutes for a mile to 35 minutes, still a long way to go with Kevin completing a mile in 23 minutes. All of the team have been swimming from an early age and now enjoy a variety of water based hobbies, Alex & Steve compete in triathlons, Kevin swims for the fire service swim team, Scott is a keen surfer and Matt surfs and sails.

In September the team  had to do a 2 hour qualifying swim in cold water (13 degrees). Not without its drama with one team member suffering hypothermia after 53 minutes. Finbarr and Hamish are new recruits and will have to do a 2 hour swim in April/May. We are trying to train in as many different situations as possible including a night swim in November (11 degrees)  called the Firework 500. This year will see us entering as many competition swims as possible using them as team time trials. We are already training in lake Ullswater (with wetsuits at the moment) in 6 degree temperatures.

On Saturday 15th March the team had mandatory medicals, all passed with flying colours. Our thanks to BEEP doctors Theo Weston MBE, Elena Saw and Ross Anderson who kindly gave their own time to complete them.
Photo: - two of the team (Alex and Steve) and our team mascot “TJ” with Theo, Elena and Ross

We are holding a quiz at the Highland Drove pub in Great Salkeld at 7.30pm on Sunday 1st June. All money raised on the night will be matched by Barclays Bank.