Channel swim teenagers ‘went off like rockets’ but kept pace for quick time

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK - Credit: Tony Pick

A group of speedy young swimmers shaved hours off their projected time to cross the English Channel – and had a close encounter with a finned companion along the way.

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK - Credit: Tony Pick

The relay team of six sea swimmers, aged 13-17, crossed the Strait of Dover in 10 hours and 16 minutes.

Upon reaching France, the East Coast Icicles – members of Felixstowe Swimscapes open water swimmers club – thought they may have broken this year’s record time. But, as it turned out, the fastest Channel swimmer of all time, Trent Grimsey, had crossed the strait with five others in 8hr 47min only the day before.

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK - Credit: Tony Pick

The East Coast Icicles had set themselves between 12 and 18 hours to complete the crossing, with members swimming in rotation until they reached France.

The team was made up of six school pupils from around the county – Ollie Pick, 17, Brendan Bennett, 15, Charlotte Smith, 15, Alfie Glendinning, 14, Will Johnson, 15, and Minnie Wayman, 13.

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK - Credit: Tony Pick


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They were raising funds for the YoungMinds charity, which champions the wellbeing and mental health of young people.

Alfie Glendinning’s father, Nick, a fellow Felixstowe Swimscapes member, said: “It went really well. They each did two swims.

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK - Credit: Tony Pick

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“It may have been youthful exuberance, but they went off like rockets, and were able to keep it up.

“Minnie has a fear of what’s beneath the water, including sharks. During her swim, we saw a black fin approaching, then it leapt out of the water and turned out to be a dolphin.”

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK - Credit: Tony Pick

One of the team’s training sessions was attended by Michael Read MBE – a long-distance swimmer known as the ‘King of the Channel’ for his 33 crossings – went to Felixstowe to offer them a pep talk over the summer.

Earlier this year, Farlingaye student Ollie Pick, from Iken, and Will Johnson, from Diss, won gold and silver in the under-19 ‘Ice Fly’ race at the biennial UK Cold Water Swimming Championships.

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK

The East Coast Icicles' English Channel swim. Picture: TONY PICK - Credit: Tony Pick

Charlotte Smith, from Felixstowe, took silver in the girls Ice Fly, while Alfie Glendinning, from Ufford, and Minnie Wayman, from Bromeswell, both at Woodbridge School and the youngest swimmers in the competition, picked up gold in the under-15s. Alfie then grabbed another gold in the head-up breaststroke.

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