Saturday 21 January 2017

Father partakes in gruelling English Channel relay swim to raise money for daughter with disability

Published 15/10/2015 | 10:51

Image: Twitter via Isla Jeffers
Image: Twitter via Isla Jeffers

Doting dad Alex Jeffers took on the challenge of a lifetime to raise funds for Irish Dogs for the Disabled, who recently gave his daughter Ceri a stability dog.

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Alex's daughter Ceri has a rare degenerative condition and has been unable to walk without the use of a walker or wheelchair.

Thanks to Irish Dogs for the Disabled, Ceri's life has been transformed by the addition of a stability dog named George.

"She is already able to walk independently with his assistance, something we never thought possible," said Alex.

Ceri with dog George. Image: Irish Dogs for the Disables via Facebook
Ceri with dog George. Image: Irish Dogs for the Disables via Facebook

In order to raise funds for the charity, Alex embarked on a three man English Channel relay swim with fellow swimmers and good friends Gordon Adair and Peter Walsh.

Thus far, Bandon native Alex has raised almost €3,500 via his mycharity fundraising drive.

His swimming partner Peter Walsh described their epic swim to the Irish Examiner.

"Gordon came up with the idea of the Channel relay attempt, and we couldn’t resist and booked in," Peter said.

Alex Jeffers
Alex Jeffers

"The English Channel is the Mount Everest of open water swimming. It is 21 miles across at the closest point but the swimming distance is greatly increased by the tidal currents which flow up to four miles an hour. This makes the swim more like 35 miles as the swimmers get pushed to and fro with the currents. A typical crossing is in a zigzag pattern, more like a letter Z than a straight line."

He revealed that the men would train early mornings at "silly o'clock" before work.

"Suffering mild hypothermia and getting scalded while trying to drink our tea to stop the shaking afterwards, we loved every minute of it."

One Friday morning in late September, the three men plus Alex's daughter Bronwyn Jeffers as support crew -  flew from Cork to Manchester and drove five hours to reach Dover.

Peter, Gordon and Alex. (Image: Gordon Adair via Facebook)
Peter, Gordon and Alex. (Image: Gordon Adair via Facebook)

At 2.50am on the Saturday, Peter took the plunge - literally

"I climbed into the water with a light strapped to my head, a glow stick pinned to my togs, and my nerves in bits. I did my first hour’s rotation and was happy when my time was up," he wrote.

Peter and Alex. (Image: Gordon Adair via Facebook)
Peter and Alex. (Image: Gordon Adair via Facebook)

"While the swimming conditions were excellent, I struggled for the first few hours on the boat and retreated into my own little bubble while the two lads got on with their one-hour rotation in the water. Sea sickness is the most common cause for relay failure, so thank God for sea sickness tablets."

Gordon Adair from Carrigtwohill certainly attracted the marine wildlife - he was joined by a pod of dolphins for one of his swimming rotations who swam alongside him then right underneath him and the boat before heading off on their way with a few slaps of their tails on the water.

On his next rotation Gordon swam through jelly fish for approximately 30 minutes. These were much less welcome and Gordon was badly stung. However, it didn't detract from his determination and he kept on swimming.

Peter, from Midleton, describes Alex as "Mr Cool himself".

"The most positive upbeat person I know, he just got stuck in and came out with a smile each time. He got the ‘glory leg’ of the swim and was the first person to land in France and boy did he deserve it. The task took 14 hours and five minutes."

Peter, Gordon and Alex. (Image: Gordon Adair via Facebook)
Peter, Gordon and Alex. (Image: Gordon Adair via Facebook)

The men also swam in aid of Cork University Hospital's Children's Ward.

You can donate to their cause, below.

Irish Dogs for the Disabled

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