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Channel swimmer tells of her ‘horrendous’ experience

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A WOMAN who has described her experience swimming the English Channel as ‘horrendous’ says she may return to long-distance swimming after some time off ‘to get back to having a life’.

Channel Swimmer Karen Gallichan who swam the English Channel on 10/9/19 in 19 hrs 44 mins (25765853)

Karen Gallichan (51) completed the swim from England to France on Tuesday afternoon in 19 hours and 44 minutes.

She said there were times when she wanted to get out, even though she had trained for an extra year after her attempt in 2018 was thwarted by bad weather.

‘I did want to get out. There were tears and temper tantrums and I was heard sobbing for about an hour.’

Her support team, which included Channel swim veterans Sally Minty-Gravett and Bianca Kempster and friend Billie Cave, persuaded her to keep going with some ‘tough love’.

A single mum with two children including a son who has autism, Ms Gallichan has raised £13,000 for Autism Jersey, smashing her target of £10,000 on her JustGiving page.

The money raised will be used to help adults on the autism spectrum, funding opportunities that will improve quality of life or enhance employment prospects.

Ms Gallichan, who is the manager of the Autism Jersey Boutique, was a swimmer when she was a teenager but started swimming properly again only five years ago when she was asked to do the swim leg in a triathlon.

While she struggled to get back into it, she went on to swim Lake Windermere, was the fastest local female round Jersey in 2017 (in 11 hr 5 min) and joined a Channel relay team.

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But this swim, she said, was the one she really wanted to do.

‘I love to swim but it’s such a huge swim and I am pleased and relieved it’s done. I’m glad I’ll never have to do it again.

‘For about an hour when the sun came up I enjoyed it, but the rest was brutal. I never expected to swim for so long in the dark and I was disorientated, swimming away from the boat and then back towards it and I was very sick. But it was a stunning sunrise, absolutely glorious.’

Ms Gallichan has joined the ranks of swimmers in completing what many consider to be the ultimate long-distance swim but has no plans to repeat her feat.

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‘I want to get back to having a life, really. I’m a single mum with a son with autism and a daughter and they’ve been bit neglected, really.

‘But I’m hoping it will prove to be a bit of an inspiration.’

Although she does not want to attempt something that big again, she said swimming the Strait of Gibraltar was a possibility in a couple of years.

‘It’s so worth it. Your mind can take you to places you wouldn’t think possible.’

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