Channelling history

Channelling history
Channelling history
Channelling history

A MINDARIE father and son are teaming up to set a world record this month while fundraising for an African children’s charity.

Martin Smoothy said he and Sam (17) would attempt to be the first father and son team to swim the English Channel.

An ambassador for the Leukaemia Foundation, Sam nearly lost his leg as a child after he was diagnosed with cancer aged four.

“At one stage, the doctors were going to take his leg off but that’s been saved,” Mr Smoothy said.

He said swimming had been an important part of Sam’s recovery and earlier this year, they both finished the solo Rottnest Channel Swim.

Having initially struggled to fit back into school after four years of cancer treatment, the Year 12 student is now deputy head boy at Quinns Baptist College.

Due to leave on July 16, Mr Smoothy said their coach, swimming champion Shelley Taylor-Smith, and his daughter Esther (16) would be their support crew crossing the channel.

He said they had been given between July 22 and 29 to attempt the 32km swim, and would decide the exact date with their skipper once they got there.

“We’ve got to try and pick the best day to swim; it’s very much (dependent on) the weather,”he said.

“We would like to get over in about 12.5 hours, but our coach said be prepared for 15 hours in the water.”

Mr Smoothy said they had done a lot of cold-water swimming to train for the challenge, including a recent six-hour qualifying swim in water under 16 degrees at Pemberton.

He said they had been swimming about 50km a week, mostly in the Swan River or the sea.

“We go in the ocean quite a lot in the morning in the dark; we have glow sticks that we put on,” he said.

‘It’s a huge thing for both of us; to be able to swim with your dad, to be able to swim with your son.

“It’s definitely brought us together (and) allowed us to work on something great while doing something together.”

The pair had applied to attempt the English Channel Swim last year but only secured a place when another swimmer had to pull out.

An observer from the Channel Swimming Association will join their support crew to ensure they do not break any rules.

The Dream Life Church treasurer said they were covering costs of doing the swim themselves, so all donations made would go to the Uganda Project for its Heritage Children’s Centre in Kampala.

They hope to raise $75,000 to provide running water for the showers and toilets, classrooms, a dormitory and a vehicle at the centre, which gives about 260 children food, clothing, education and accommodation.

Mr Smoothy said he had been to Uganda several times and Sam had been twice, and would attempt to set another record there if successful on this one.

“We are looking at being the first people to swim across Lake Victoria,” he said, adding that would require a cage because crocodiles lived in the East African lake.

For more information, visit www. theugandaproject.com or to donate, visit www.chuffed.org/project/english-channel-uganda/. They are also selling collectable $30 swimming caps and $60 long-sleeved shirts.