Jack Fitzpatrick, 18, of 1063 (Herne Bay) Squadron Air Training Corps is in a squad set to swim the Channel to mark the 75th anniversary of the RAF Air Cadets.
Jack, who was in the team to complete the swim last year, is joining the second squad which due to poor weather had its swim postponed but is now ready to brave jelly fish and choppy water in the relay swim of 21 miles. His thoughts on the forthcoming swim are very positive.
With sheer determination Jack said: “It was a great honour to be selected to represent the Corps and successfully swim the Channel last year and I am looking forward to meeting up with the second squad. I just can’t wait to get into the water – we had to postpone the swim last year due to the unsuitable conditions but now we’re hopeful we will complete the challenge.”
Up to the challenge
Jack has been training hard, building up endurance and stamina as well as getting used to the motion of the sea. His open water training started in April when he joined The Dover Training Group.
He explained: “It is a group of like minded people who train together in Dover or Hythe every weekend between April and October. It is not an official club or association; it is run solely by volunteers, and swimmers travel not only from the UK but from overseas to train with the group in Dover. As a relay swimmer, I swim for 1.5 hours, rest on the beach for an hour then back in the sea for another 1.5 hours. When we started in April the water temperature was a cool 10 degrees but will have warmed up a bit more this week!” Jack is also training to be a beach lifeguard and attends weekly training sessions in the local pool or the sea at Herne Bay.
The first team who completed the 21-mile swim last year recorded 11 hours 40 minutes and have set a benchmark for this year. Though it is expected to take upwards of 12 hours in the slightly warmer waters of the month of August, thanks to a generous donation from Nidaria Technology Ltd of their famous sunscreen which includes protection against jellyfish stings our swimmers will have added confidence in the water.
Battle against the elements
Commandant Air Cadets, Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty said: “I was thrilled and hugely impressed to see our first team of air cadets and volunteer staff swim the Channel last year to mark the 75th anniversary of the RAF Air Cadets.
“However, weather conditions meant that the second squad, who had trained just as hard as the first squad, didn’t get the chance to attempt the swim.
“Such was their determination and team ethos, however, they asked if they could defer the swim until this year and have been training hard in the interim.
“I will keep everything crossed that the weather and tides are kinder this year and that this intrepid team will manage to swim to France, completing the original challenge in style.”
The big wait
The support team once again is led by Squadron Leader Sam PearmaIn who has been busy putting together a not too taxing programme of events for what she describes as ‘the big wait’, with some sea training to maintain fitness and team spirit.
Once again the swim will be adjudicated by an observer from the Channel Swimming Association to ensure that all rules are followed for the event to be officially recognised.
Air Vice-Marshal David Murray, Controller of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, said: “Jack is a shining example to the Air Training Corps and fellow Cadets in his Squadron. The RAF Benevolent Fund is delighted to support the Cadets in this endeavour and we thank them for volunteering their time to support the Fund over the years. Good luck to all taking part!”