Marcus Walmsley swims English Channel for St Andrew's Children's Hospice
A COMPETITIVE sportsman showed hidden depths when he swam the English Channel.
Marcus Walmsley, of Louth, has raised £3,500 for St Andrew's Children's Hospice after completing the most gruelling challenge of his life so far.
The 27-year-old, who works at Kenwick Health and Leisure Club as a swimming teacher, has always had an ambition to complete the swim since an early age.
It was not until he met Tony Espin – who himself swam the Channel in 1978 – that his dreams began to turn into a reality.
Tony introduced Marcus to cold-water swimming in Alexandra Dock four years ago, and he has never looked back.
"The biggest difference between swimming in a pool at the leisure centre and in open water is the temperature," Marcus said.
"Visibility was also a huge challenge, but after endless training it soon became second nature to me.
"Even through the winter months, I would be training in the dock in minus degrees.
"At times I did question what I was doing.
"Tony has been an inspiration."
To prepare him for the 22-mile swim, Marcus completed a Humber swim from Grimsby Dock to Spurn Point two years ago in two hours and 50 minutes.
The father-of-one said: "The morning I actually began the event, the water was calm but six hours in, it turned. All of a sudden, I was battling against the wind and tide and France's shoreline just never seemed to get any closer.
"I kept asking my support crew if I was actually getting anywhere but they said yes so I kept going. I did go through some dark hours when my arms and legs were tired."
He completed the swim in 12 hours and two minutes and can only recall his feelings at the time as "pure elation".
"I look back over the pictures taken on the day and still can not believe I did it.
"I am delighted with the amount of money I have raised for the children's hospice.
"Some of the children I teach at work have used its facilities, so the charity is something close to my heart.
"I felt pain while doing the swim but it is nothing compared to what these poorly children might go through each day."
And Marcus realises just how lucky he has been to successfully swim the Channel.
Only a few weeks after his own success, a 45-year-old Paraic Casey, from Ireland, had been swimming for more than 16 hours when he became ill half a mile off the coast of France, and died.
Marcus said: "It was very sad to hear about him and my thoughts go out to his family."