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BLOG: Channel swim challenge for our compassionate care

Endless miles of water and only yourself for company can be a daunting prospect for many. But for some St Luke’s supporters, a cross channel swim is at the top of their fundraising bucket list.

Mike Goodman, from Saltash, took on the ultimate challenge of swimming across the channel for St Luke’s last week.

Mike, who you may recognise as being the manager at the Embankment Road Co-op, swam the gruelling 20.5 miles of open water between England and France all in aid of St Luke’s.

It took Mike an incredible 14 hours and 45 minutes to complete the swim.

Mike, who has always had a love of swimming, decided to take on the epic challenge after his friend and training partner, Neil Brinkworth, who had completed it himself four years earlier – raising a staggering amount for St Luke’s – gave him the push of encouragement.

He said: “I have always been a keen swimmer, starting at an early age and joining Plymouth Leander Swimming Club. I was never a fast swimmer but I enjoyed the challenge even then of distance swimming and getting my two mile badge.

“My good friend and training partner, Neil encouraged me to do the swim after we completed the channel as part of a four man relay, going on to swim from Land’s End to the Isles of Scilly as a team of six and becoming World Record holders for the fastest time, and more recently in June this year, the same team completed the North Channel, from Northern Ireland to Scotland.”

Mike, who has always been a supporter of St Luke’s – even kindly donating milk for refreshments at our most recent Open Garden – has already managed to raise over £3,200 for our patient care on his JustGiving page.

He said: “St Luke’s has been a great support to many people I know, including relatives, so I wanted to fundraise for such a great local cause.”

Swimming the channel is no easy feat, with Mike having to take on a vigorous training schedule to prepare for the big day.

“Training wise, I’ve been swimming twice a week for an hour early in the mornings, concentrating on technique as well as speed work and two sessions a week in the gym focusing on stretching, to help prevent injury and improve flexibility and range of movement. I have been sea swimming normally once a week and then more every other weekend when I’m not working full time.

“My training peaked with six-hour sea swims, or if time and weather did not permit, three hours in the pool followed by three hours in the sea the following day.”

But the training was all worth it in the end, especially when Mike was able to see the French coast on the horizon after hours of physical exertion.

“The toughest part was going through the 6/7 hour pain barrier as this was the longest time on my training swims. Once past that and up to 10 hours I knew I had passed the separation zone (mid channel) and that as minimum I was half-way, so psychologically it was all downhill from there with a decreasing amount of hours.

“The magic was seeing the French coast and being told by your crew, ‘This is your last feed,’ knowing you had less than one hour to go! My team got to swim in and film me finishing on the beach and celebrate the crossing.”

Thank you and well done to Mike for this incredible achievement. Thanks to his dedication and hard work, we can be there for even more patients and families who desperately need our care and support.