Many people would baulk at the thought of diving into water at 14°C, but not businesswoman, Rachael Whitson, managing director of Exeter based communications agency, Absolute PR & Marketing. Rachael will be taking on the English Channel this August as part of a relay swim team to raise funds for Age UK Exeter.
Always on the search for her next charity challenge, Rachael completed the Dart 10K swim last September, and is keen to defy her boundaries by taking part in an even bigger fundraising feat this summer. Rachael will be swimming in a relay as part of team H2 Oh! from Dover to the French coast. The team of five are determined to battle the elements and test their physical abilities all in aid of a charity close to their hearts.
Rachael is a trustee for Age UK Exeter, having become involved at a time when her 95 year old grandfather was struggling to remain independent at home. Realising that his circumstances were shared by many elderly people around the country, she was moved to make a difference locally.
Through her role as a trustee and fundraising challenges, Rachael helps Age UK Exeter to support vulnerable and isolated elderly people, offering them support and companionship through its varied services.
Team H2 Oh! Will swim the channel during the week of the 18th to 25th August. The precise date will be determined at the last minute – weather and tide conditions dependent. The channel spans 21 miles at its shortest crossing, yet the team will swim a considerable distance further as the current moves them many miles from side to side as the tide ebbs and flows.
The challenge will see them endure conditions in the Channel which are variable and can change rapidly. Conditions have the potential to reach force 6 with temperatures dropping below 14 degrees and wave heights of up to 2 meters. Not only will the team be crossing one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, but at times they will be swimming in the dark, in waters that are often populated by jelly fish, seaweed and planks of wood.
Counting down the weeks until her Channel swim, Rachael, said: “It’s an upsetting truth that my grandfather’s experience wasn’t unique and is, in fact, typical of many elderly people living alone, with relatives perhaps hundreds of miles away. Age UK’s around the country offer a lifeline for many isolated people in the local community and it’s a cause I want to help.
“Swimming the Channel is the most daunting challenge I’ve taken on so far and, although we’ll time our crossing for the best possible conditions, we will swim through anything up to force 6 conditions which could bring winds up to 31mph. The members of H2 Oh! are training hard with regular open water swims to build our endurance, not just for the relay distance, but for the cold and fatigue that we could be facing. We’ll be motivating each other to keep our spirits up and knowing that it’s for a great cause will make it completely worthwhile.”
To help speed Rachael and the fearless H2 Oh! team across the English Channel in aid of Age UK Exeter, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rachael-whitson2. Keep up to date with their progress leading up to the event and during the swim on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/221265115307060/