Lancaster businesswoman completes charity relay Channel swim

A last minute call to arms led to financial adviser Rachael Edmonds abandoning a family holiday to take part in a gruelling English Channel swim for charity.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 3:54 pm

Mum-of-two Rachael was on holiday with her family in Wales last week when she got the call to say a boat was ready to take her and co-swimmers Jim Cleaver and Alex Loydon on their charity mission.

The event had been delayed a year due to Covid restrictions, and when the call came that the window for channel crossings had reopened and they were next in line, the team - now down to three from an original six - had to go for it at very short notice.

And so, after a quick drive back to her Hest Bank home on Saturday, Rachael made the journey down to Dover, sleeping in her van at the port overnight to be ready to set off on Sunday morning.

Rachael Edmonds pictured during the Channel swim.

The group - led by Tom Keen, who organised the event - set off early on Sunday from Samphire Hoe beach, close to Dover.

The three swimmers took turns to swim an hour at a time, taking the time in between to warm up and refuel.

The sea temperature ranged from just 12.8 to 13.8 degrees.

"Each swim was the longest hour of my life," Rachael said. "It then took about an hour to warm up and then you only had another hour to refuel."

Rachael Edmonds with co-swimmers Jim Cleaver and Alex Loydon.

Despite leaving Dover in glorious sunshine, the boat suddenly hit thick fog about nine hours into the crossing.

"At one point we thought they would have to call it off," Rachael said.

However, the team kept going, and it was Alex who made the final leg of the swim, landing on French sand just over 13 hours after the group had left England - although no one else could see the momentous occasion due to the fog.

"Alex had only done pool swimming before because she lives in central London, and she just got in and did it," Rachael said. "She was an absolute superstar."

Rachael Edmonds with co-swimmers Jim Cleaver and Alex Loydon and the boat which took them on their Channel swim.

Despite the Channel crossing being 21 miles as the crow flies, the team actually swam about 33 miles between them due to the tide, with Rachael estimating she swam about 12 miles during her five hour-long stints.

The swim was completed in 13 hours, five minutes and 22 seconds - followed by a two hour boat trip back to Dover, where they were met by Alex's mum with three bottles of Champagne.

"The experience was amazing and the crew was fantastic," Rachael said. "We had money being donated online while we were on the boat, and were getting messages of support on Facebook that we could read, and that kept us going.

"It's something I will never forget."

Rachael Edmonds with co-swimmers Jim Cleaver and Alex Loydon on the boat in thick fog.

Rachael added her thanks to Facebook groups MALLOWS, whose members she has been open water swimming with for the last year in Morecambe Bay as part of her training.

"They have been a huge support to me," said the 43-year-old, who featured in a story in December after a metal detectorist found her wedding ring after she lost it swimming in the sea at Morecambe.

Between them the group has so far raised around £16,000 for St James's Place Charitable Foundation, who have pledged to match fund the total raised.

St James's Place is a FTSE100 company which provides financial advice, and has partner practices around the country - including Rachael's own business Edmonds Financial Planning.

St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation has been supporting those in need since 1992, making a positive and lasting difference to people’s lives by awarding grants to charities registered in the UK to assist them in the incredible work they do every day. So far, they have raised and distributed more than £100m to thousands of charities.

Rachael now hopes that she can help local charities such as A Breath for Life and St John's Hospice, both of which are close to her heart, to gain funding from the foundation.

Rachael Edmonds.

You can donate to Rachael's JustGiving page here.

The stopwatch shows the final time of the swim.
Rachael training in the winter in Morecambe Bay.