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Making a splash to swim the channel

AN ex-Frome student is preparing to swim the channel this summer, to raise money for Diabetes UK.

Matthew Sanders will take on the swim in August with a team of fundraisers for Diabetes UK, covering the distance in relay with his swimming partner. Crossing the channel means Matt will have to deal with risks from hypothermia, de-hydration and sea-sickness, debris, jellyfish, and commercial shipping, as the Strait of Dover is the busiest stretch of water in the world.

Matt said, “My brother is type 1 diabetic and has been for 12 or so years. I thought this was a great way of raising money. I’ve been swimming outdoors in lakes and rivers, but now I have to increase my training load and continue swimming outdoors in cold water. Swimming outdoors is amazing – I was in Dover on a weekend and it was wonderful in the sunshine, but there’s no guarantee of that in August!”

Another challenge is that Matt does not know exactly how far he will have to swim. He explains, “Straight across is 22 miles, but the currents and tides mean you have to swim in an ‘s’ shape. That’s why you have an experienced pilot who plots your course and is aware of the conditions, and they determine how shallow or deep the ‘s’ shape is.

“For the two-person relay, we spend two hours in the water, then switch. We’ve spoken to a lot of people who have done relays – one of the biggest issues is sea sickness on the boat – there’s a lot of rocking as you’re travelling at the same speed as the swimmer. You’re trying to keep warm as well.”

Matt, who was born and bred in Frome and was a pupil at Berkley School, Selwood Middle School and Frome College, now works as a research scientist for the Medical Research Council, and some of his research covers diabetes. He has already raised around £2,000 but needs to raise more. In Frome, his parents are supporting his challenge at the Old Bake House in Cheap Street, where they will be donating the proceeds from sales of doughnuts to the challenge during June. You can sponsor Matt via www.diabeteschallenge.org.uk/challenge/mattswimsthechannelin2012; or www.justgiving. com/mattandalanswimchannel or you can text donate to justgiving by texting ‘MSAN82 £5’ or ‘MSAN82 £10’ to 70070.

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