Smoothy blend of courage and charity

Martin Smoothy (left) and son Sam, who successfully swam the English Channel last month, are the first father-and-son team to do so.
Martin Smoothy (left) and son Sam, who successfully swam the English Channel last month, are the first father-and-son team to do so.

A MINDARIE father and son have returned to Perth and started planning their next challenge after swimming across the English Channel.

Martin Smoothy and his son Sam (17) started the 32km swim from England to France just after midnight on July 24.

“We did 12 hours, 52 minutes with the average swim now about 20 hours,” Mr Smoothy said.

“It was a bit scary in the beginning – it wasn’t what we expected.

“We started at midnight; it was absolutely pitch black.

“When I first got in the water, I swallowed water – I couldn’t see the difference between the water and the sky.

“Just after 4.30am, I saw the sunrise come up – it was the happiest sunrise I had ever seen in my life.”

Mr Smoothy said challenges included the choppy seas and being stung by a jelly fish early in the swim.

“We had four skippers, one observer and then my coach and my daughter on board and there was a bit of sea sickness on board,” he said.

“We went through a smooth patch, then it got a little more turbulent when we hit the coast.”

Mr Smoothy said as they approached France, the skipper said they had half an hour to make it to shore, or the currents would turn and it could take them several hours.

Once they were on the beach, he said there were tears when the Channel Swimming Association observer blew the horn to recognise the father-son team had completed the swim.

“It was the most emotional thing I’ve ever done,” he said.

Sam started open water swimming training with his school, Quinns Baptist College, and did his first solo Rottnest Channel Swim last February.

Expecting to raise about $20,000 for The Uganda Project in last month’s challenge, Mr Smoothy said the pair planned to be the first people to swim across Lake Victoria in East Africa next July.