Channel swimmer set for next challenge

This Is Wiltshire: Brian Avery training at Waterland,  in the Cotswold Water Park Brian Avery training at Waterland, in the Cotswold Water Park

CHANNEL slayer Bryan Avery has set himself the challenge of completing one of the toughest triples in world swimming next year.

The 45-year-old grandfather, an IT consultant from Jason Close, Oakhurst, plans to follow up his triumphant crossing of the English Channel with a crossing of the Catalina Channel in California and a circling of Manhattan Island in New York.

The three feats make up what is known as the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, which has been completed by fewer than 100 people, according to the official website.

Bryan crossed the Channel in less than 15 hours on September 22, raising £4,000 for the male cancer charity Balls to Cancer in the process.

As the Adver reported at the time, Bryan made the crossing without any physical difficulty, only to slip and break his little finger on the French coast.

The finger is now healed and Bryan has fire in his belly once again.

He said: “It took about four to six weeks to heal, but I was back in the water swimming again after a couple of weeks. I have always wanted to do the Triple Crown, which is like a badge of honour among swimmers.

“At the moment I’m looking at doing it next year and try and do both in one trip to the US.

“Not many people have done it. The water’s a little warmer, but the problem at Catalina will be the marine life.

“Manhattan Island will be further in total distance, but it’s tide-assisted, so the challenge there is you have to get round the island within nine and a half hours before the tide turns and takes you away.”

Before that Bryan is targeting a Boxing Day fundraiser at his training venue in Cotswold Water Park, at Lake 32.

The water in recent weeks has been at 4C, though this may have dropped further by the time he and his companions wade into the lake at 8am in aid of Prospect Hospice.

The challenge is less daunting than crossing the Channel, as Bryan admits, though there are many amateurs who will be braving temperatures far lower than they are used to.

“After I had swum the Channel I carried on going to the lake every weekend and it’s gotten progressively colder,” he said.

“A lot of people do use the lake, and a few of us said why don’t we come down and meet for a swim on Christmas or Boxing Day, and we landed on the latter.

“We are expecting 10 to 20 people, though this is the first time with us organising it.”

Bryan said the ambient temperature when the swimmers step out of the water is likely to prove the biggest test, with bodies going into shock, seizing up, and dippers facing the prospect of hypothermia.

He is asking anyone attending, participating or helping with the fundraiser to donate £5 to the hospice, with hopes of breaking three figures.

Anyone interested in donating to Prospect should visit www.justgiving.com/lake32 swimmers or text ‘lake58’ to 70070 to make a £2 donation.

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