2.8 C
Harrow on the Hill
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Home Articles Hillingdon nurse swims English Channel in memory of sister

Hillingdon nurse swims English Channel in memory of sister

It took more than a pandemic to put Donna Nicholas off her stroke when she recently completed her dream of swimming the English Channel.

“I smiled all the way,” says the 53 year-old sexual health nurse based at Hillingdon Hospital whose original crossing was postponed when Covid-19 reached our shores.

National lockdown threatened months of cold water preparation including gruelling weekly swims around Dover Harbour – the favoured training ground of the Channel Swimming Association.

“It was frustrating but I kept my fitness by pounding the roads,” said Donna who was seconded to look after Covid-19 patients.

“It was a scary time but we all came together and I met some wonderful people. It’s important to have interests outside of work though and I always had the swim on my mind. I guess you get a bit obsessed.

“The thought of open water was certainly a refreshing thought when you are spending the best part of 12 hours in PPE. It was something to look forward to.”

Donna was able to resume swimming in the summer squeezing in several weeks of training including a six hour trial before getting the nod

“It all happened very quickly but swimming the channel is a mental as much as a  physical challenge. You have to dig deep when you are in the water that long.”

Rules dictate that a swimmer is not allowed to touch the support boat which provides refreshments via a hand line.

Donna would float on her back once an hour to take on board a carbohydrate drink and a delicious concoction of black tea and flat coke.

She swam with the memory of her deceased sister for company whose name she wrote on her arm for inspiration.

“I was still full of energy when I reached the other side although it was misty so I couldn’t see the shoreline until the last minute.”

Donna completed the 21 mile course in 13 hours and 23 minutes three days after her birthday proving you are never too old to show the young ‘uns how it’s done.

She was greeted on the beach by Steve Stievenart, the first Frenchman to swim from Dover to France and back again.

“I was over the moon although quarantine restrictions in France meant I had to hop back on a boat back to England almost immediately. It really was a dream come true.”

So, what’s next for the Aussie who took to cold water and the odd jellyfish sting like a duck out of water?

“I’d like to complete the ‘Triple Crown’ which is the English Channel, the Catalina Channel between Catalina Island and the California mainland, and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, a 48.5 km circumnavigation of Manhatten Island, New York City.”

Recent Posts

Harrow residents help launch Christmas advent campaign

Barratt London has launched a virtual Christmas advent campaign to celebrate community, after a year when it has mattered the most.   Residents at developments...

Man sentenced after selling jewellery containing elephant hair in Wembley

A man has been sentenced following an investigation into the sale of jewellery containing elephant hair in Wembley. Rajtharan Mahalingam, 40, was found guilty at Harrow...

Harrow Schoolchildren help homeless with essential supplies

Children from three Harrow schools recently took part in an activity to help the homeless this winter. The project, co-ordinated by Catholic charity, Caritas Westminster,...

Debenhams set to permanently close all of its stores if buyer cannot be found

Approximately 12,000 jobs at Debenhams are at risk after reports surfaced that the famous department store chain is on the brink of liquidation. The BBC...

Top Posts

Teenage boy stabbed to death in Harrow

A teenager has died after he suffered fatal stab injuries in Harrow today (12 November). The male is believed to be aged 17 and police...

Battle of Britain Bunker in Uxbridge to host half-term family tours

Hillingdon Council’s Battle of Britain Bunker Exhibition and Visitor Centre in Uxbridge will be opening its doors to families throughout October half-term (Monday 26...

19-year-old man rushed to hospital after being shot outside train station in Harrow

There has been a shooting tonight near Sudbury Hill Station, Greenford Road.  Multiple reports have been sent to Harrow Online and one person posted on...

Hillingdon’s waste service wins ‘Best Team of the Year’ award

Hillingdon Council’s waste and recycling service won the Best Team of the Year Award at this year’s Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee awards (LARAC)...