Car boss ‘out of com­fort zone’ in Chan­nel swim

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Testing Times Ahead - By Gerry War­ren gwar­ren@thek­m­group.co.uk @Ger­ry_war­ren

He is bet­ter known for his epic cy­cle rides but car deal­er­ship boss Paul Bar­rett says he found him­self “well out of his com­fort zone” with his lat­est chal­lenge.

Mr Bar­rett vol­un­teered to take part in a char­ity re­lay cross­Chan­nel swim, which tested him men­tally as much as phys­i­cally.

He said: “Slip­ping into that black, choppy sea at night in the mid­dle of the Chan­nel re­ally plays with your mind and was ac­tu­ally quite scary.”

He was swim­ming with a team put to­gether by Jaguar Land Rover to raise money for a mo­tor in­dus­try-backed char­ity called Ben.org

He said: “I was ap­proached be­cause our deal­er­ships are in Kent and I think they thought I must be swim­ming in the Chan­nel all the time. In fact, the last time I went into the sea here was when I was about seven years old. Friends thought I must be crazy but I agreed and then found out that I would be swim­ming in the dark and also with­out a wet­suit, as of­fi­cial cross-chan­nel­swim­ming rules dic­tate.”

Mr Bar­rett has re­cently rid­den from Can­ter­bury to Rome with the Can­ter­bury Velo Club but says Chan­nel swim­ming pre­sented a very dif­fer­ent men­tal chal­lenge he wasn’t ex­pect­ing.

He said: “I don’t have prob­lems with long dis­tance cy­cling, although that can be tough over the moun­tains but I was well out of my com­fort zone with this.

“We set off from Dover last Thurs­day at 10pm and took turns to do hour-long ses­sions and my first was at 2am. I didn’t re­alise just how dis­con­cert­ing swim­ming in dark would be be­cause I hadn’t done it in train­ing.

“It re­ally plays tricks with your mind and of­ten be­cause of the swell and chop­pi­ness, you just can’t see the es­cort boat.”

He did two hour-long swims and just missed out on hav­ing to do a third but all the team went into the wa­ter for the fi­nal 100 me­tres to the shore at Cape Gris Nez just over 16 hours later.

He said: “Af­ter­wards there was a great sense of achieve­ment and now I have a new re­spect for those solo cross-chan­nel swim­mers, be­cause it’s in­cred­i­bly tough.

“I have to say a big thanks to the Kings­down Crawlers swim­ming group who swim in the sea all year round and re­ally helped me with my train­ing.”

To spon­sor Mr Bar­rett, go to www.just­giv­ing.com/ fundrais­ing/paul-bar­rett22

Paul Bar­rett and, right, on the sec­ond leg of his Chan­nel re­lay swim

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