Oxford student to support worthy causes as he takes the English Channel plunge
PUBLISHED: 14:49 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:49 18 July 2018
An intrepid student will brave notoriously hazardous elements and one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes to raise money for charity.
George Stannard, from Oulton Broad, will take the plunge later this week as he attempts to swim 21 miles across the English Channel to France.
Having swum competitively for Saint Felix School in Southwold and at Oxford when he began university, the 21-year-old accompanied his friend Naomi Vides during her own channel swim and was inspired to take on the gruelling challenge for himself.
He has provisionally been registered to swim between July 20 and 28, but does not yet know the actual date due to unpredictable weather conditions.
“I was Naomi’s support swimmer and, when I saw for myself how impressive it was, I thought I had to do it,” said Mr Stannard, who also attended Norwich School. “In 2016 I took part in the university’s cross channel relay, although swimming it solo is on a completely different level.
“To prepare myself I’ve done a few swims for Oxford Swimming Club and started sea swimming in May - any earlier and the sea is just dangerously cold!
“I’ve been swimming in the sea when I’m back home in Lowestoft to acclimatise and I’ve done a few six-hour swims in Bournemouth, but nothing compares to the real thing.”
Mr Stannard has been fundraising for three charities and has already received more than £1,500 in donations.
One of the causes is Reverse Rett, a research charity working to accelerate treatments and a cure for a neurological condition affecting young girls known as Rett syndrome. It leaves girls with lifelong disabilities and affects Miss Vides’ sister Nadya, hence Mr Stannard choosing the charity.
He has also selected international humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières and SOFEA, a charity that empowers disadvantaged people in Oxfordshire.
“I’m feeling quite nervous but confident as well,” added Mr Stannard. “The donations have certainly added some extra pressure.
“My aim is to beat 16 hours and I’ll have my dad, sister and university friends cheering me on from the support boat.”