Brave Amy makes her French con­nec­tion

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - YOURTELEGRAPH - By Bob French bob.french@jpress.co.uk

At 3.20pm on a Sun­day af­ter­noon Amy Hayes waded into the sea at Sam­phire Hoe on the south coast.

Al­most 15 hours and 30 jel­ly­fish stings later she was on the beach at Cap Blanc Nez in France just as the sun was com­ing up.

The 41 year-old Peter­bor­ough Triathlon Club mem­ber, an Amer­i­can who lives in Hamp­ton had just be­come the 1,767th per­son to swim the English Chan­nel - a feat first achieved by Cap­tain Matthew Webb on Au­gust 25, 1875.

“I still can’t be­lieve that I did it,” said the mum of four. “It was so hard. I suf­fered 30 jel­ly­fish stings, I swam for eight hours in the dark and for the last two hours I pushed my­self be­yond what I thought I was phys­i­cally ca­pa­ble of. I had a painful shoul­der and I was ex­hausted.But I was so de­ter­mined to fin­ish.

“I have done lots of triathlons and the fin­ish line feel­ing is huge for me. I con­vinced my­self 18 months ago that get­ting out of the wa­ter in France would be the best fin­ish line I could ever get to ex­pe­ri­ence and it most cer­tainly was.

“Mind you there was no­body there to cheer me be­cause you never know where you’re go­ing to land. The tides take you all over the place.

“But one of my crew mem­bers broad­cast the last 20 min­utes live on Face­book and over 200 peo­ple watched it. They were cheer­ing from all over the world.”

Amy, whose of­fi­cial time for the 22-mile cross­ing was given as 14 hours and 41 min­utes, al­most had to be pulled out of the wa­ter be­cause of the chang­ing tides, but she was hav­ing none of it.

“I was told that I was go­ing to be pulled from the wa­ter be­cause the tide changed and we weren’t go­ing to­wards France. So I swam faster and harder against the tide and we were soon head­ing in the right di­rec­tion again.”

Amy did the whole swim us­ing the front crawl stroke and only stopped at hourly in­ter­vals to have some­thing to eat.

She said: “My crew threw nu­tri­tion over the side of the boat to me and I would drink warm Ga­torade, eat race gels (en­ergy sup­ple­ments), ap­ple sauce, ba­nanas, canned pears, bite-sized peanut but­ter and honey sand­wiches and oatmeal, all while kick­ing on my back to keep mov­ing.”

Amy spent 18 months train­ing for the big event and that in­volved lots of river swim­ming in ex­tremely cold tem­per­a­tures wear­ing only a swim­suit, gog­gles and a swim­cap.

She also gained 20-25 pounds in weight for added nat­u­ral in­su­la­tion against the cold and that meant a diet of dough­nuts for a year.

Amy has so far raised $5,000 from the swim - half of which will go to­wards pay­ing for the cost of the sup­port boat and the rest to a US char­ity.

“I’d love to swim Gi­bral­tar to Morocco next or Molokai to Maui,” said Amy. “Crazy, I know, but I’m so com­pet­i­tive.”

‘It’s crazy, I know, but I’m so com­pet­i­tive’ Amy Hayes

Amy Hayes is ex­hausted af­ter swim­ming the English Chan­nel.

Amy Hayes (left) and her back-up crew.

Amy Hayes in ac­tion dur­ing her 14-hour or­deal in the English Chan­nel. The bot­tom pic­ture shows her ar­riv­ing in France

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