Melton schoolboy takes on English Channel swimming challenge

Charlie Goddard (15), a pupil of Melton's Long Field Academy who is to swim the English Channel as part of a charity challenge EMN-190429-161941001
Charlie Goddard (15), a pupil of Melton's Long Field Academy who is to swim the English Channel as part of a charity challenge EMN-190429-161941001
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A Melton schoolboy says he is both excited and nervous as he prepares to take part in a charity swimming challenge across the English Channel.

Charlie Goddard, a pupil at Long Field Academy, will be part of a six-strong team aiming to splash their way the 21 miles from Dover on the south coast to dry land in northern France.

He’s a strong swimmer as a member of the Leicester Neptune Swimming Club but he realises that it will be much different going from a heated baths to open water where temperatures could plummet and vessels pass by regularly on the world’s busiest shipping lane.

Charlie, who is doing it to raise thousands of pounds for the Aspire charity, which supports people who have suffered spinal cord injury, told the Melton Times: “I am excited and nervous but I will get to the other side.

“I am training regularly in the pool but I will start swimming in the lakes soon to get used to open water.

“I’ve been down to see what the charity do and met some of the people they help and it is a good charity to help.”

It is undecided yet whether the challenge will take place in the daytime or during the night but the aim is for each swimmer to complete an hour at a time before a colleague takes over with the team hoping to arrive on the French coast within nine to 12 hours.

The idea came about following a conversation between Charlie and his clubmates. They plan to do some training sessions in Dover Harbour next month and in June and July ahead of the channel swim, which is scheduled for August 8.

Charlie’s dad, Simon, is confident his son can help the team make it to France and he will be waiting nervously in England while it is happening.

“It is an incredible thing for a teenager to do but I know he can do it,” said Simon, who lives with the family in Syston.

Things have moved on since the first person to swim the English Channel - Captain Matthew Webb - did so in August 1875 in 21 hours and 45 minutes.

Comedian David Walliams managed the crossing in just 10 hours and 34 minutes in a sponsored effort for Sport Relief 13 years ago. Charlie and his team-mates hope to do it in around the same time.

Simon added: “We’ve been told the sea water will be around 16 to 18 degrees although it could drop as low as six degrees when they hit cold pockets.

“The distance is 21 miles but the team could end up swimming nearer 30 miles because they won’t be swimming in a straight line.

“Charlie and the others can’t wear wetsuits so swimming in the lakes beforehand will help them get used to open water swims in trunks.”

The team want to raise £12,000 for Aspire with Charlie aiming to secure £2,000 himself. Go online to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/charlie-goddardlnsc6 to sponsor him.