Car boss ‘out of comfort zone’ in Channel swim
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