No st­ing in the tale for chan­nel swim­mer

Jonathan com­pletes 52km swim from Eng­land to France

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your Telegraph - By Stephen Briggs stephen.briggs@pe­ter­bor­oughto­ Twit­ter: @PTstephenB

A city swim­mer braved jel­ly­fish stings, freez­ing wa­ter tem­per­a­tures and strong tides as he bat­tled the ele­ments to swim across the English Chan­nel. Dad-of-five, Jonathan Rat c li ffe (43) com­pleted the 52 km swim in 11 hours 59 min­utes to raise money for an ed­u­ca­tion char­ity.

Jonathan, who is now a mem­ber of Peter­bor­ough triathlon group PACTRAC, said be­fore tak­ing up the chal­lenge he had not swam much for 20 years.

He said: “I al­ways try and do some­thing to push my­self out of my com­fort zone - last year I climbed the Matterhorn, and I am scared of heights.

“I had al­ways thought of do­ing it - I thought we are an is­land, and won­dered if I needed to swim off, whether I could do it. I was a swim­mer in myy outh, but with five chil­dren I had not had much time to do any.”

Jonathan made the marathon swim on Au­gust 19, start­ing at mid­night in Dover.

He said :“We got a pilot boat sorted and skip­per. I was told my tidal win­dow closed on Au­gust 17 th, but on the 18 th I got a call say­ing ‘you are go­ing in the wa­ter in 24 hours.’

“I started at mid­night. It was very choppy for the first hour or two, but then I was in beau­ti­ful wa­ter. The sunrise was ma­jes­tic. I saw more jel­ly­fish than boats, and luck­ily only got stung three times.”

To com­plete the chal­lenge, Jonathan had to com­plete feed­ing stops in just 30 sec­onds - hav­ing fruit smoothy drinks, or blended flap-jacks to keep his en­ergy up. He was un­able to touch the boat for the swim to be rat­i­fied, and stop­ping for longer than half a minute would push him back against the tide.

He said: “My wife was on the pilot boat, and she was writ­ing mes­sages on a white­board.

“The wa­ter is very cold, and salt wa­ter is very abra­sive, so it definitely helped.

“When I got to France, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stand. I had taken about 46,800 strokes, mainly us­ing my arms.

“I crawled a shore, lay in the sand, and let out a big scream. Then I swam back to the boat. I was sea­sick on the jour­ney back.

“I don’t know if I will do any­thing next year. Ju­lia (Jonathan’s wife) has said I have child rear­ing, dog walk­ing and golf time to make up. But I have been se­cretly Googling some of the world’s hard­est swims.”

Jonathan, from Bul­wick, was rais­ing money for Peter­bor­ough based char­ity CROPS, which is at­tempt­ing to raise funds for a scheme to con­sol­i­date their men­tor­ing in schools on a one to one ba­sis.

He said: “It is such a great cause, help­ing chil­dren deal­ing with self im­age and con­fi­dence is­sues, es­pe­cially around exam time.

To help the char­ity, visit http://uk.vir­gin­money­giv­­tor­ing

I only got stung by jel­ly­fish three times Jonathan Rat­cliffe

Jonathan ap­proach­ing France

Marc Warner , Jonathan Rat­cliffe, Ju­lia Rat­cliffe, Ben Kil­ner on the sup­port boat

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