Animas pumpers complete Channel Swim Relay.
The purpose of the Animas Channel Swim Relay challenge was firstly to
raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), but equally to
celebrate people with Type 1 diabetes performing at their best. The team was
made up of three swimmers with Type 1 diabetes, using Animas® Vibe™
insulin pumps; Mark Blewitt, Matt Cox, and Claire Duncan. They were supported by
two, experienced channel swimmers, Pawel and Boris, as well as 17-year-old
Lorcan who will be attempting his first solo crossing this
At 1:45 am on Thursday, July 21, 2011, the first swimmer lowered
himself into the cold water at Dover Harbour on England’s southeast coast. The
Animas Channel Swim Relay was underway. After months of training and
preparation, Mark, Claire, and Matt were about to take on one the biggest
challenges of their lives. The 21-mile swim across the English Channel is one of
the most famous and arduous swims on the planet and those of us offering our
support from the dockside were relieved it was them rather than us, especially
as the news had been reporting an unusually high number of jelly fish in the
Just a few days earlier, we had been wondering whether the swim would
ever happen. Our original swim date had been postponed a couple of times due to
bad weather, and with a number of other groups waiting for their chance to swim,
we worried that we may have had to wait a few weeks before we got another
chance. Then, on Monday, July 18th, with just three days notice, we got the call
to say it was “all systems go.”
On Wednesday evening, the swimmers, plus a large support crew of
friends, family, and Animas representatives, congregated at a hotel in Dover.
There was excitement among the swimmers, but also naturally some trepidation at
the challenge that lay ahead. The pilot of the support boat, which accompanies
all Channel Swims, gave the team their final briefing and then it was time to
Each swimmer was scheduled to be in the water for hour-long spells.
The first into the water was Mark, and as the rest of the team
boarded the support boat with photographer in tow, he took his first strokes
towards the coast of France.
Once the swimmers were out of sight, it was our job–those left on
dry land–to keep everyone back home up to date with the team’s progress.
By using a live GPS tracking link and regular calls and texts to the
support boat, we were able to provide a running commentary of their journey via
a dedicated Facebook page. The regular updates made for great reading and the
team’s terrific swimming meant they were making great
At 3:04 pm, the final strokes were made. The team reached the French
shoreline at Cap Gris Nez, a small outcrop of land between Calais and Boulogne.
The swimmers endured 13 hours and 26 minutes in water temperatures as low 15
Celsius /59 Fahrenheit and had run the gauntlet of seaweed and jellyfish. As
soon as we got word, we relayed our congratulations back to the boat team and
uploaded the great news via the Facebook page.
The swimmers’ return journey by boat was naturally much quicker than
the outbound leg, taking just four hours, and when they reached Dover we were
there to welcome them and begin the celebrations.
Our swimmers can be proud to have raised over 4,000 GBP for a great
cause and they most certainly demonstrated that having diabetes shouldn’t stop
anyone from taking on a challenge of a lifetime. I think swimmer Matt Cox put it
best when he said, “My son was diagnosed with diabetes and I’m hoping this
challenge will help Jack and other people with diabetes strive to achieve
exactly what they want in life.”
Huge congratulations to everyone involved and don’t forget, you can
still donate to the cause by visiting www.justgiving.com/animas-swimmers
Animas UK/Ireland Team