College professors avoid the jellyfish to complete Channel swim
TWO Swansea University College of Medicine professors have completed a cross-Channel swim.
Prof Marc Clement and Prof Mark Rees were part of a team of eight medics, seven professors and a pharmacist who took 13 hours to complete the swim from England to France to raise funds for the Heart Research Fund for Wales.
Three of the team, including GP James Wrench from Builth Wells, Powys, tried in 1988 but were beaten by fog and a hurricane.
Dr Wrench said: “We have been burning with the desire to do this for 25 years. It was a pilgrimage.”
The GP was also joined by cardiologists Prof Julian Halcox and Dr Phillip Freeman and neurologist Dr Robin Corkill, all from the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, Ysbyty Gwynedd microbiology consultant Dr Stuart Darcy and pharmacist Jon David from Pembroke.
Dr Wrench estimated the group swam around 40 miles through the water to make the 21-mile crossing in swells of up to 30 feet.
He told the BBC: “It was not as cold as our training swims had been in west Wales, but it was much rougher.
“Most of the team were sea sick throughout.”
The team swam in a strict rota of two hours in the water and one hour in the boat.
Dr Wrench said his worst moment came when a gannet kept attacking him as he swam.
They were all extra concerned following the death of a previous swimmer who had been stung by jellyfish.
“We were all terrified of the risks of jellyfish,” added Dr Wrench.
“As doctors we all tend to worry about our health more than the average person in the street because we know what can go wrong.”
They were prompted to do their challenge by the fact Wales has a 15 per cent higher death rate from heart disease than England.
The team members have set themselves a target of collecting £100,000.
The money raised will go towards a project aimed at reducing deaths in younger people in the deprived parts of Merthyr Tydfil, Port Talbot and the Llyn Peninsula in Gwynedd.