Many readers will know of Young Achiever, Henry Bell, from many previous reports of his Open Water swimming successes. Henry, now 19, lives in Peppard with his family and he has been swimming since he was a young baby. He is now at the Berkshire College of Agriculture where he has recently been studying maths and working towards a B Tech in Public Services. He is also learning to drive and is a member of the Green Gym. Much of the remainder of his time is taken up with swimming.
Introduced to the other five members of the Tri50 English Channel Relay Swim Team by his previous swimming teacher, they have been training since last September for a relay swim across the English Channel which they achieved on 10th July this year. Tri50 stands for Triathlon 50 based on the fact that all members of the team, apart from Henry, are over 50.
In preparation for the big event, Henry has been training hard in the Thames and at the swimming pool at Gillotts Leisure Centre, Henley. He told me he loves swimming in the river but is less keen on lane swimming in a pool.
The Channel is 21 miles wide at the narrowest point but, due to tides and currents, the team actually took a route from Samphire Hoe near Dover to Cap Blanc-Nez in France of approximately 30 miles. Taking it in turns to swim for one hour at a time, the team reached their destination in 12 hours 54 minutes which is the fastest time for a relay Channel swim this year.
Both Henry’s parents, Rebecca and Robert, travelled with him to Dover and his mother remained in the support boat as part of the crew who looked after and monitored the swimmers throughout their swim. Henry was the fifth swimmer to take to the water. At various points he had to swim through big clumps of seaweed and was stung by jellyfish but remained calm throughout despite being a little nervous on the boat beforehand and coped with a water temperature of be-tween 6oC to 12oC. On landing in France, the team raised the Union Jack!
Apart from the achievement itself, the team has raised £11,840 so far for the Alzheimer’s Society and donations are still coming in. A concert at All Saints’ Church on 6th July added to the donations by raising £500 for the charity.
On 20th June Henry took part in the local annual 1500 metres Club to Pub swim in the Thames at Henley coming 7th overall.
Next summer the Tri50 Team plan to swim 40 miles round Jersey. Henry’s personal ambition is to swim the Channel solo one day! So, three cheers for Henry!
Donations to the Alzheimer’s Society for the Tri50 swim can still be made via www.justgiving.com/Tri50. Please give your support if you can. Every three minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with dementia.