Saffron Walden dad ready to brave the cold in Channel crossing charity swim

DESPITE being a lifelong swimmer, Peter Wagstaff thought of crossing the English Channel as his ‘Everest’.

But the 53-year-old will look to overcome that daunting prospect when he joins the Aspire Marlins, one of five teams attempting the crossing later this year to raise �50,000 for spinal injuries charity, Aspire.

“The opportunity to join a team of five like-minded people to swim the real channel was absolutely irresistible,” said Mr Wagstaff who previously swam the equivalent 22 miles in the safety of a swimming pool.

“Full preparation and conditioning for the difficult conditions is absolutely key. Winter training focused on endurance and technique in the relative warmth of a pool, which was in readiness for the more demanding experiences to follow.”

Each of the six team members will take turns to swim for an hour, with the total number of turns determined by the overall length of the attempt – and all of this can only go ahead after a two-hour qualifying swim in Dover harbour in early July.

Mr Wagstaff himself has found that acclimatising to the cold water can be a slow process, while the team will also have to battle against waves, the tide and wind.

“The Brighton swim at the beginning of May was a bit of a body-shock – cold showers can help but there’s no substitute for the real thing,” he said.

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“Let’s hope conditions are generally in our favour in mid-August.”

Mr Wagstaff needs to raise �1,500 and is holding a quiz night at the Duke of York in Saffron Walden High Street as one of a number of fundraising initiatives. The quiz takes place on June 16 at 7.30pm. Tickets are �5 each (maximum eight per team). Call 01799 500116.

Alternatively, you can help by donating at