Soothill woman battles Channel currents for Peruvian children
FEROCIOUS currents, chilly water and even purple jelly fish were not enough to stop brave Sarah Oakes from swimming the English Channel.
Sarah, who grew up in Soothill, was one of six people to cover the 22-mile distance in a relay swim from Dover to Calais to help fund a Peruvian orphanage through her own charity, the Latin American Foundation for the Future.
And the 13-hour ordeal proved worthwhile as the group doubled its 5,000 target, which will go to Azul Wasi (the Blue House) – a community-based project near Cusco, which provides a home, education and training for street children, many of them orphans or abandoned by their parents.
Sarah and her fellow swimmers Hannah Barrett, Tom Parr, and three sisters Alice, Louise, and Emma Shepherd-Walwyn, who all now live in London, trained for months in the Thames and indoor local pools, but Sarah, 27, said it was not enough to prepare them for what they experienced.
She said: "The hardest part was the currents and the fact that despite swimming as hard as we possibly could, there was a chance that we might not make it to France at all if nature decided otherwise.
"There were times when we were swimming with all our might but instead of progressing steadily to France, the currents meant we were drifting towards Amsterdam.
"It was really difficult to get back into the water second time round and, although you couldn't see them very well, there were huge purple jellyfish swimming alongside us, in sections there were dozens of them to get past. But we were lucky enough not to have to swim through any oil slicks and the ferries stayed at a safe enough distance too."
In the end it was sheer perseverance and a fortunate turn in the tide that allowed the group made an emotional touch-down in France.
Former Lydgate School pupil Sarah, who before the swim was recovering from a chest and lung infection, added: "The best bit of the whole thing is that we are going to be able to take the 10,000 we raised from swim sponsorship straight over to the kids homes we are supporting in Peru. This money will have huge impact on our projects."
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Weather for Batley
Tuesday 18 June 2013
Temperature: 13 C to 22 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 11 C to 23 C
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