Chesterfield woman tells of 'amazing, unforgettable' experience after swimming English Channel

A Chesterfield woman has told of her elation after she achieved her dream of swimming the English Channel.

Monday, 23rd September 2019, 1:47 pm
English Channel swimmer Michelle Hardy. Picture by Brian Eyre.

Michelle Hardy swam the 21 miles between the UK and France in 15 hours and 19 minutes earlier this month.

The 51-year-old, of Ashgate, signed up for the mammoth feat in summer 2018 as a personal challenge and trained by swimming around 20 miles a week for a year.

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English Channel swimmer Michelle Hardy. Picture by Brian Eyre.

Michelle said: "It was certainly an experience I'll never forget.

"I'm not sure if I'm the first person from Chesterfield to do this - if not, there won't be many of us.

"Overall, it went really well.

"The sea felt fine - it was relatively warm - and there weren't that many waves.

This picture of Michelle was taken when she landed on the beach in France.

"I only saw two jellyfish but thankfully they didn't sting me.

"I started shortly before midnight so swam in the dark which was good fun.

"I wouldn't say I had any low points during the swim - I was very, very focussed.

"The high point was definitely when I finished.

"It was an overwhelming, amazing feeling.

"I finished on a beach and there were people cheering and waving Union Jack flags which was really wonderful."

Michelle described the adventure as a 'team effort' as her husband, Richard, and friend, Elaine Henderson, rode in a boat alongside her to help feed her and spur her on.

Michelle, who works in accounts and finance, said she feels 'great' since the swim.

Asked what advice she would give to people who also want to swim the English Channel, Michelle said: "Just do it!"

Praise has come in for Michelle on social media.

Jane Loughnan said on Facebook: "Superstar! Well done - in awe!"

Kathy Oates commented: "What a great achievement."

For more information about swimming the English Channel, visit the Channel Swimming Association's (CSA) website.

According to the CSA, 114 people have successfully swam the English Channel so far this year.

The CSA's website states: "The English Channel is a unique and demanding swim, considered by many to be the ultimate long distance challenge."