A RASTRICK swimmer has battled through strong tides and cold winds to successfully cross the English Channel.
James Ashmore completed the relay challenge with four other members on September 1 in a time of 14 hours and 36 minutes.
As well as overcoming the elements, James raised almost £3,000 individually and, as a team, £25,000 for the charity Aspire who support people with spinal injuries.
“The first hour’s swim was okay but the second hour was like swimming in a washing machine,” said the former Rastrick High School pupil.
“We had an easterly tide with a westerly wind. So the tide and wind were having a fight and we were attempting to swim through some very choppy water.
“The third swim was equally tough and done in the dark with a light attached to the back of our goggles and a glow stick pinned to our trunks.
“The sea temperature doesn’t vary that much from day to night but diving into the sea at 9.30pm in the pitch black felt much colder than 17C which was the actual temperature.
“It was one of the toughest things I have ever done in my life and am now full of relief that I never ever have to swim in the English channel again.”
In preparation for the challenge, the team had to complete a two hour qualifying swim in Dover Harbour.
“It was the most horrendous water to swim in and on one occasion in May the water was 10C which is colder than the water that comes out of household taps,” said the 35-year-old.
“One of my biggest fears was swimming in the dark and you have to breath based on instinct and your senses.
“It was an amazing feeling to do such a challenge and raising and incredible amount for charity.”
The relay swim had strict rules where each man swum for an hour and had to take on hazards that included jellyfish, diesel slicks, ferries tankers, raw sewage and even fridges and freezers.
The team were not allowed to wear wet suits or flippers were allowed.
James attended York University to study physics but kept in contact with the area by playing rugby for Brighouse Rangers before moving to London.
However, he still visits his mum and grandparents who still live in Rastrick. People can still donate by visiting www.justgiving.com/james-ashmore