A TEAM of six swimmers did battle with jelly fish and sea sickness to successfully complete a relay crossing of the English Channel - in just more than 15 hours.

Some of Channellettes y Hombre, including captain, Leslie Emilie Tuck, from Embsay, travelled to Dover for the second year running, after last year’s swim had to be cancelled because of the weather.

But this year, the conditions were right, and the team, made up of for women and two men; Leslie, Amber Rose Nolson, from Embsay; Richard Lewis, from Thornton in Craven; Rebecca Kendall, from Sutton-in-Craven; Lorraine Watson, from London, and Mark Purvis, from Oxenhope, successfully completed the swim, in a time of 15 hours and nine minutes.

Each of the swimmers spent an hour in the water in rotation as they crossed the Channel, which at is shortest is 21 miles, but can vary due to the current, with all raising funds for charities close to their hearts.

All are experienced swimmers who have been training for months, with the help of Channel swimmer and Skipton based coach, Christine Bradley, who has carried out both solo and relay swims, and in Leslie’s case, for three years.

They arrived in Dover on Friday, June 14, spent the weekend sight-seeing and nervously checking the weather forecast before being given their crossing window, a short period of time from the Monday evening to the Tuesday, on the boat, The Optimist, captained by Paul Foreman.

“In the beginning we were all so desperate to swim,” said Leslie. “ We were envious of Richard’s first position. We watched the sun set and the full moon rise as we travelled to Samphire Hoe for Richard to swim to land to finally start, really start, this crazy gigantic undertaking.”

Time then just became ‘surreal’ as the team members battled with sea sickness and the cold, getting in and out of the water, and being blinded by the boat’s spotlight, and the jellyfish.

“Perhaps due to spring tide, or the full moon, or just our luck, the jellyfish were out in swarms during our night swims. They were particularly thick for Rebecca’s, mine and Amber’s night swims,” she said.

“Imagine being in the cold, dark, blinded, and every time you put your hand forward you touched something disgusting, slimy, and as often as not painful, being flayed with nettles for an hour.

“It was only due to my teammates, in particular Richard - my buddy - who I could hear above my loud curses - saying “You can do this” “Keep going” that I made it through the nightmare that lasted an eternity.

“When I got out the captain, co-pilot and adjudicator said that my swim was horrific, that they had only seen it so bad one other time in all of their boating. And poor Amber having witnessed my swim had to tell her body she had to get in to that nightmare.”

The team emerged from their night swims bruised and battered, with both Lorraine and Richard suffering badly with sea sickness.

Fortunately, Mark, a GP, was on hand with a medical bag.

The second round of one hour swims, after dawn, was free of jellyfish and the sea was mostly calm, flat and kind.

“ While I had to force myself to get into the water for my second swim - my brain screaming - don’t you dare get back in - it was beautiful. I felt so alive as I imagined I was racing the boat, almost like a dolphin playing,” said Leslie.

“The daylight made things so much easier. The water was clear, and you could see the boat easily. You could also hear Paul and the co-pilot Jason clapping you on.”

While one team member was in the water, the others would be keeping an eye on the time, and waving a board when their hour was nearly up.

“During the swim it would feel like ages, like they had all forgotten the time, or their watches broke, or you had entered a parallel universe where you just had to swim forever. And even the five minutes between the waving of the whiteboard and the end of the hour was an entire other forever,” she said.

It was Rebecca and support swimmer, Richard, who swam the last 200 metres to reach France.

Leslie said: “We had done it. Despite everything, we had swum from England to France. There were tears of joy, hugs, and an unbelievable feeling of accomplishment. Was it really possible, had we done that? Yes we had, and not only done it but in only 15 hours, nine minutes. Flipping amazing.”

But it did not all end there, the team then had the three hour rough ride back to England.

“We swam the distance that a boat with engines took three hours to get back across. Even the sea seasoned adjudicator, Colin, who was so supportive on our crossing, said it was the longest three hours.We curled up in our dry robes and again willed time to get a move on.

“However, on the return journey, we were Channel Swimmers. We had come and conquered. We had achieved. And we could finally read all the million text messages and posts of love and support from friends, family, and strangers who had stayed up throughout the night to will us on, to watch our progress, and to be our champions.”

Leslie, is raising money for Embsay with Eastby Good Neighbours and Manorlands Hospice; Amber Rose Nolson, a pilates teacher, also from Embsay, is raising money for the NeoNatal Unit at Leeds General Infirmary; Richard Lewis, from Thornton-in-Craven, is supporting Brain Tumour Research, Rebecca Kendall, from Sutton-in-Craven, is doing it for Manorlands Hospice, and Lorraine Watson, from London, for the children’s charity, Mermaids. Former Bradford GP Mark Purvis, Oxenhope is a keen rugby player, and president of Baildon RUFC, and is Mark is raising money for International Mixed Ability Sports.

Richard’s chosen charity is Brain Tumour Research in memory of his Dad, his Justgiving

page is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richard-lewis65

Rebecca is raising money for Manorlands


Mark is raising money for International Mixed Ability Sports - the inclusive sports


Amber is raising money funds to provide a specialist life saving NeoNatal bedside resuscitation machine for the NeoNatal Unit at LGI, her page is


Lorraine is raising money for Mermaids who support transgender children and their families, her fundraising page is


Leslie is raising money for Embsay with Eastby Good Neighbours Scheme, and Manorlands. We are all throwing a big party to raise money for our charities and to celebrate our accomplishments.