From nearly drowning to Channel swim

From nearly drowning to Channel swim
Buxton Advertiser - Buxton,England,UK

A CHAPEL-EN-LE-FRITH woman is preparing to take the plunge by attempting her biggest challenge yet – swimming the English Channel in aid of charity.
Zimbabwe-born Jacqui Smith, 28, of Market Street, is busy training for the gruelling 21-mile swim between Dover and Cap Gris Nez in France, which she hopes to complete in under 14 hours.

A former international swimmer for her native country, Jacqui will be raising money for Wezimbabwe, a small UK-based charity providing education for children in Zimbabwe.

"I'm starting to get excited about the swim. It's been a dread for a long time, but I think I've got to enjoy it," explained Jacqui, who will attempt the swim sometime between July 26 and August 8, depending on weather conditions.

"I would like to be able to sum up my career with something like that, it would be amazing. It's such a high profile challenge and it would be nice to use it to do my part for Zimbabwe."

Despite almost drowning at an early age, Jacqui never let it hold her back, excelling in the sport at school. Later, as a teenager, she went on to represent Zimbabwe at various championships including the All-Africa Games, even swimming alongside Olympic starlet Kirsty Coventry.

But what does she make of her greatest challenge to date?

"I think the main battle will be the solitariness and the cold," Jacqui said.

"There is too much time to think about negative things and I will just have to stay positive."

Jacqui, whose usual discipline is breaststroke, has been preparing for the English Channel swim for the past 18 months. This includes regular outdoor training swims at Boundary Water Park in Knutsford, the River Dee in Chester and the Albert Dock in Liverpool.
And she has even received some words of encouragement from Little Britain star David Walliams, who completed the Channel swim in 2006 and raised £1 million pounds for Sport Relief. The actor has donated a series of signed raffle prizes for a fundraising event Jacqui will be holding at The Shoulder of Mutton in Chapel on Saturday, June 27, from 4pm onwards.

Entry to the event will be free, with attractions including an X Factor competition, giant jenga, killer pool competition, darts and a barbecue.
Other raffle prizes will include three nights accommodation in Cannes, an F1 Lewis Hamilton signed photo and cap, two female Sabre bikes, gym membership, plus much more.

You can sponsor Jacqui at www.justgiving.com/jacquismithschannelswim.
Details of her Channel Swim challenge can also be found at www.wezimbabwe.org.