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Former club swimmer Ashleigh Seymour has conquered one of our sport’s epic challenges by crossing the English Channel.
 
Ashleigh boatShe had to contend with a hundred jellyfish stings and cruel changes in the tide to complete the 21-mile swim in 21 hours.
 
The 36-year-old, from Irvine, left Shakespeare Beach at Dover on a Wednesday morning and arrived in Calais at 4.40am the next day.
 
“It was the hardest, most mentally challenging thing I’ve ever done,” she says.
 
“The tide wasn’t kind to me, and the weather changed after around 16 hours, so I ended up swimming into the night, being pushed sideways along the French coast.”
 
Swimming, and the North Ayrshire club, run in the family for Ashleigh. She competed for us as a youth and her brother and sister, Shane and Shona, have kept up the tradition, swimming in the Development and Synchro squads respectively.
 
Ashleigh's epic swim raised a total of £3383 for the charity Safe Passage, which helps child refugees and vulnerable adults find sanctuary in the UK
 
“I’m totally exhausted so it’s time for a rest, but I must say I was totally overwhelmed by the experience and the support people have shown me and my charity,” she comments.
 
Asleigh trainingAshleigh began distance swimming in open water eight years ago and has swam all over Europe.
 
She first thought of taking on the Channel challenge three years ago when she acted as a support crew member for a friend who was doing it.
 
Her punishing training regime meant swimming up to 95km in a week at its peak, which is equivalent to nearly 4000 lengths of a short course pool, and  in order to register to cross the Channel she had to complete a six hour swim in water of less than 16 degrees.
 
On the day she had back up from her dad, Jim and her friend, Ben, to feed her jelly babies, carbohydrate drinks and heated feeds to keep her going, as well as recording the day for posterity with the camera.
 
She also had a support swimmer, Anna, alongside her to help with pacing and for safety reasons.

Huge congratulations to Ashleigh from everyone at North Ayrshire Swimming.