A stroke survivor and teacher from Huddersfield is to attempt to break a world record for swimming the Channel that will take around 75 hours.
Dee Llewellyn, head of maths at Netherhall Learning Campus in Rawthorpe, will be part of a team swimming the Channel THREE ways between Dover and Calais this weekend.
Dee, 37, and five other female team mates, will altogether swim at least 63 miles from the British port to France, return and then swim out again to Calais with the aim of completing the challenge in under 75 hours and 32 minutes. They are not allowed to wear wetsuits to keep the cold out and the water temperature will be between 12°C and 17°C. Swimmers are rotated with each one swimming for one hour, then rest for five hours on the boat while the rest of the team complete their one hour swims.
In 2011 Dee was part of a Windermere relay team that broke the World Record for the longest ever fresh water swim. She has also successfully completed a solo Channel swim.
And nothing is going to stop Dee from Kirkheaton who had a stroke caused by an undetected hole in her heart in 2009 aged only 32.
“I’m determined that we’re going to do it,” she said.
“I was actually part of the team who broke the last record so I will hopefully be beating myself.
“To do it one team member will be swimming at all times, meaning that we will do at least 10 miles each but with the currents it is probably going to be nearer 12 to 15.”
She got involved with the challenge due to taking part in open water contests following heart surgery.
“I met the girls through competing in other open swimming events and think we’re a really strong bunch,” said Dee.
“I’ve been open water swimming since I was 15 and have done it regularly since then and competed for Great Britain around four times.
“Having the stroke was a big shock – I just couldn’t understand it because I was so active.
“The doctors found out I had had the hole since birth but, fortunately, with the help of my coaches since the surgery I’ve made a full recovery, although I was off work for several months and unable to compete for a year.”
Dee talked about the preparations she and her team, who are raising money for the British Heart Foundation and Unicef, have had to make.
She said: “I’ve been swimming up to three times each week at Total Fitness where I also use the gym in winter, compete each weekend throughout the summer and have done two big outdoor swims.
“We’ve hired a fishing boat and two drivers to travel across the channel but we’re going to be self sufficient. We’ll only have my partner and another for assistance.
“We are travelling down this Friday and hope to set off early on Sunday depending on the tides.
“It means we’ll be swimming through the dark which is daunting at first but I get used to it.
“I’m praying we don’t encounter any jellyfish though. Last time one of my team mates had to jump into a group of them.”
The team will be swimming in the busiest shipping lane in the world with up to 500 tankers, container ships, ferries and fishing vessels passing through the narrow strait every day.
To follow their progress and donate, go to www.justgiving.com/teams/andyschannelladiesrecordattempt