Kids make a splash in Channel challenge

St Anselms School pupils after their Channel Challenge
St Anselms School pupils after their Channel Challenge

PUPILS at a Bakewell school proved they were in the swim last week when they successfully managed to swim the English Channel, without even leaving the Dales.

The target for 59 pupils at S. Anselm’s School was to swim 27 miles, aka 43 kilometres, aka 43, 506 metres, or to put it another way, 2,175 lengths between them in one afternoon.

The challenge initially started out in the Swim Club, which was originally set up to raise standards and give the opportunity to all of the budding swimmers at S. Anselm’s. Swimming the Channel gave each swimmer a target and a purpose to their intensive training.

However, such was the positive response from some of the other pupils, the event became bigger and better.

The challenge started at 1.50pm, during which time the pupils would usually take part in an extras programme, which consists of 70 different extras throughout the year, ranging from golf to rock band and skiing to horse riding.

The afternoon was started by Great Britain triathlete Diane Lee, who teaches all swimming and coaches the swim squad at S. Anselm’s.

Split into five different time slots the pupils set out on their way to achieving their goal. “Throughout the afternoon, pupils were diving in, eager to add to the overall total. With some fantastic support from parents, staff and competing pupils alike, the total started to build quickly.

Within the first hour, the pupils had reached 940 lengths in total, equating to 11.68 miles. As the afternoon progressed and more bodies took to the water, the title of Most Lengths Swam started to change hands as the competition rose.

Headmaster Simon Northcott was enthused by everyone’s efforts and said: “I was astounded at the personal commitment shown by the pupils and the sense of achievement they had on exit from the pool.

“To have Year Three pupils swimming between 50 and 100 lengths and the senior pupils swimming up to 250 lengths – which is 240 more than I could do – is an indication of the fantastic extra-curricular programme we run here at S. Anselm’s.”

This was a staggering achievement and, having set out to swim the English Channel, the pupils actually swam a total of 5,595 lengths, equating to 69.53 miles, and actually comfortably swimming the Channel, from Dover to Calais, two and a half times.

In actual fact, the pupils at S. Anselm’s Prep School ended up swimming the equivalent of between mainland Alaska and Russia, across the Bering Straits, a distance of approximately 53 miles.