Local Man Swims The Channel To Fundraise For Eastbourne Based Charity
Epilepsy Lifestyle were contacted by local lad, Jack Armstrong, who was planning to swim the English Channel and wanted to raise money for a local charity. Jack’s sister had been diagnosed with epilepsy a couple of years ago so fundraising for Epilepsy Lifestyle seemed like a good fit.
Jack has undertaken a number of challenges in the past, including The London Marathon in 2012 and an Ironman competition in 2014. Jack read a book entitled “Man vs Ocean” last year and was inspired to commit himself to the completing the channel swim from that point.
At the end of July Jack undertook this amazing challenge. There are many rules and regulations, set by the Channel Swimming Association, which have to be abided by if you want the swim to be officially recognised by the association. These include no physical contact with any person throughout the duration of the swim, no artificial aids to be used and swimming costumes and hats must offer no thermal protection.
Jack completed the swim in an outstanding 15 and a half hours and here is his account of the challenge in his own words. “I started swimming at 5:30am from Samphire Hoe, just as the sun was rising. At that point the water was really nice and calm. I was fed once every 45 minutes throughout the whole swim. My supporters on the boat would hand me food and drink via a bottle, but I wasn’t allowed to touch the boat. Nutrition included banana’s, sliced peaches, carbohydrate powder mixed with warm water, jelly babies and battenberg cake.
Around four hours into the swim I saw another channel swimmer, being helped by a different boat, give up which was a bit of a worry. After around five hours I was stung quite badly by a jelly fish in my armpit. The pain lasted a couple of minutes but then luckily subsided.
After seven hours I couldn’t really see England anymore, but I could just about see the outline of France. My big mistake after that was to then continuously look at France, which was incredibly demotivating because it felt as if I wasn’t getting any closer. I now know that I was fighting the current at this point. Furthermore the wind and the waves had started to increase significantly. This made feeding very difficult as I was getting a big dose of salt water in my mouth and nose every time I tried to eat or drink anything. This was definitely my lowest point during the swim.
Going forward from there my strategy was to force myself not to look at France, no matter how tempting, and to think only positive thoughts (only 45 minutes to go until I get some cake!)
After what felt like an eternity, I then got the call from my supporters on the boat to say “3 miles to go.” That brought a big smile to my face! However, whilst we were three miles away from the shore as the crow flies, the current actually made it more like five miles, which was a little frustrating at the time!
However, after about 15 hours of swimming, I could eventually see that the beach was in touching distance, and I knew then that I was 100% going to make it. Encouraged by my crew on the boat, I made it onto shore just as the sun was setting at around 9pm, making my swim time a total of 15 and a half hours.
When I made it onto the beach, I raised both my arms to indicate to the boat that I had cleared the water, and had therefore completed the swim. I got a nice little thumbs up from a local French family on the shore, and then made my way back to the boat by swimming extremely slowly! There was a big celebration on the boat, and I eventually got back to my bed at home around 2am. Needless to say, there was nothing that could have woken me up.”
Jack has raised an absolutely outstanding amount of £1,591.25 and this money has gone directly into the ‘Night Time Monitoring Fund’.
About Epilepsy Lifestyle
Epilepsy Lifestyle was founded in March 2014 by Eastbourne Mum, Marie Baker. Marie has a 12 year old daughter with Dravet Syndrome, which is a life-limiting neurological condition that causes severe epilepsy. Marie’s daughter Aimee has very uncontrolled seizures, sometimes lasting hours. It was Aimee’s condition and the lack of practical support that prompted Marie to set up Epilepsy Lifestyle.
Epilepsy affects approximately 1 in every 103 people in the UK and SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy Patients) affects 1 in every 1000 epilepsy patients every year. There are a number of different monitoring systems that can alert to night time seizures, the peace of mind that a monitor/sleeping solution can give to a family or epilepsy patient can not be underestimated. No one should ever have to wake up to find their child or family member has passed in the night from a seizure.
Epilepsy Lifestyle gives epilepsy patients and their families a choice of 6 different monitors/sleeping solutions and they work with their beneficiaries and suppliers to ensure the most appropriate piece of equipment is chosen specifically for their circumstances and type of epilepsy. The monitors/solutions range in price from £50, right up to £850 and all work in very different ways.
Epilepsy Lifestyle initially launched as an East Sussex Charity providing local epilepsy sufferers with monitoring equipment, potentially life saving to those who are affected by night time seizures. Thanks to a number of grants the charity were soon able to branch into West Sussex and the surrounding areas. After 2 very successful years Epilepsy Lifestyle expanded their services Nationally.