Channel hop for Hannah goes swimmingly

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If you want to get from England to France, you’d probably choose to travel by boat, train or plane.

Luton Sixth Form College student Hannah Colwell chose a slightly more unconventional

method though – she swam.

The 16-year-old was part of a six-strong relay team that successfully swam the English Channel on Tuesday, September 23.

The 21.8-mile crossing from Dover to Sangatte, just outside Calais, took them 15 hours, 43 minutes.

Hannah, who is studying AS Level maths, accounting, economics and history, said: “We swam for one hour each time, and I did three hours altogether.

“I was very tired afterwards, although it was more mentally tired rather than physically. We had to keep team morale up throughout and we had been awake for such a long time as well, as we were up very early.”

It’s not the first time Hannah and her five team-mates had tried the challenge.

Having been put together as a team by charity Diabetes UK – they didn’t know each other before – they first attempted the crossing in July, but were stopped by official observers as they were in danger of not reaching a checkpoint in the allotted time.

This time there were no such time issues, although Hannah said one of her legs when she was swimming in darkness was the toughest.

“There were really big waves and it was really choppy, that was the hardest hour to swim.”

With stringent rules governing what you can and cannot wear in the water, the team had just normal swimming attire, goggles and grease to protect them from the elements.

Hannah said: “The rules are really strict, if you’re wearing a wetsuit you’re still allowed to cross the Channel, but it’s not recognised as an official time. If you touch the side of the boat, you don’t get a time either.

“There was another relay team when we were doing it and one of their swimmers got out of the water before their next swimmer got in, and they were disqualified.”