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Epic swimming challenge in English Channel could see Suffolk paramedics net thousands for charity

PUBLISHED: 21:44 04 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:36 10 May 2017

From left to right - Team captain Carl Friar, Mark Ransom, Tia Whiteman and Ria Delves. Picture: THE AMBULANCE STAFF CHARITY

From left to right - Team captain Carl Friar, Mark Ransom, Tia Whiteman and Ria Delves. Picture: THE AMBULANCE STAFF CHARITY

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A team of Suffolk paramedics are making a splash for charity by swimming the English Channel in relay this summer.

Called the East and West Channel Swim Challenge, the race will see two teams – joined by an oceanographer and lifeguard – attempt to swim 21 mile stretch between England and France next month.

Carl Friar will captain the Ipswich and east Suffolk team while Mark Ransom is to lead the west Suffolk group.

It is hoped their efforts will collect thousands of pounds for the Ambulance Wish Foundation UK and the Ambulance Staff Charity (TASC).

Father-of-two Carl, from Martlesham Heath, is the oldest swimmer at 51 while the youngest is just 24.

He said: “I have been doing a lot of open water swimming in the past, such as triathlons, and a couple of years ago I did an Iron Man challenge in Tenby which involved swimming in the rough sea for over an hour.

“I knew Mark had previously swum the channel, so when he suggested a channel relay attempt, I did not hesitate to join in.

“I have always enjoyed team events and the prospect of raising money for ambulance charities in the process was too good an opportunity to waste.”

Organiser Mark, 47, knows what is in store for his colleagues – he swum the channel on his own in just 12 hours back in 2008.

He says: “It was an ambition I have had since I was a kid. I used to be a competitive swimmer and when I was ten I met Mike Read, who then held the world record for the most amount of channel swims, at an awards ceremony.

“But I gave up swimming when I was 17 and never considered going back to it.”

During the winter the team – made up of ten senior paramedics and student paramedics – had been training in swimming pools.

But now their gruelling regime has moved to the open sea – replicating what challenges they may face when their challenge kicks off on June 30.

Father-of-three Mark added: “There are strict rules about swimming the channel, so each swimmer taking part has to first do a two hour qualifying swim in open water in temperatures of less than 16 degrees, and without wearing a wetsuit.”

Click here to sponsor the group.

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