• Caitlin Kennedy

Katie Hall: making waves against Brexit

How did the long distance swim come about?

It was a bit of a last minute decision, but I saw a fundraising challenge on twitter called “La Nuit de l’Eau”, which is a UNICEF organised swim to raise money for children without access to clean drinking water in Haiti. And I was itching to do something a bit different out here. So I thought why not?! I decided to really push myself and do something a bit crazy, and do the length of the English channel. It’s a bit of a random distance but I think it has more of an impact in people’s minds than just saying I’m swimming 100 lengths a day.

And have you done a long distance swim before?

Well I did one at uni, but it was a team challenge where we swam the length of the channel (which is actually where I got the idea). We were in a team of 5 and did it in one day, taking it in turns.

How far do you have to swim every day?

It’s 200 lengths a day, but it’s not just me anymore. Initially, on the first day, I swam 200 lengths, but it’s just too far with work as well. I did it in two sessions, so went to the swimming pool twice in a day and the next day I was knackered. I decided I needed to rethink and either take rest days or share the distance. Now, I’ve managed to recruit a few friends that are doing some of the lengths with me.

My friend who is a seriously good swimmer had told me that it would be too far to do every day, but I went for it anyway. I do swim anyway, but I’ve never trained or anything. And it’s a lot better not that she and a couple of other’s have come to help me out. There’s more of a sense of camaraderie as well.

So do you stop whilst they’re swimming?

Yeah, for instance one day, I did a hundred and two friends did 50 each.

And you’re doing the endeavour in protest of Brexit as well, how has that gone down? Have people been supportive?

Yes, everyone has been very supportive. Originally it was a bit of a joke to do it for Brexit, but then the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Obviously Brexit was supposed to be on Friday, but it has been delayed now.

So you did it! They heard you!

Yeah I’ve been getting that a lot from my colleagues at the ESF!

Have you done any fundraising work before?

Yeah I did some whilst at Uni again for UNICEF and it’s something I’d be interested in going into in the future.

What did the staff at the Aquasport leisure centre think?

I didn’t tell them I was doing it, but I did get a few glances, probably wondering what I was still doing there, because it takes about 2 hours to do 200 lengths. But when the Radio Val guys came and reported on it, they told the staff what I was doing and now they wish me luck at the beginning which is nice.

Sam’s question is a little confused; he thought you were swimming the actual channel, but I’ll ask it anyway! Are you afraid of sharks?

Haha, yes I definitely am.

And would you ever swim the actual channel?

Yes, if I had the opportunity to. But I think it requires quite a lot of planning. You need a support boat. And it would be a lot more swimming, because it’s so much rougher and you get pushed side to side.

Have you got any other endurance endeavours in your sights?

I’d love to do the Marathon des Sables across the Sahara desert. That would be a real challenge. And the Vanoise High Trail run here in Val d’Isère in the summer.

Ah yeah, you should definitely do that. Do your family think you’re mad?

Yeah, a bit. My dad is very sporty, but even he was a bit worried. They’re supporting me though. Sometimes I think you need a bit of shock factor to get people to take action.

Well good luck with the last day and well done on such an amazing achievement!

You can support Katie’s incredible work here : https://team.unicef.fr/projects/for-sustainable-access-to-safe-drinking-water