Florence completes channel marathon

Not many 12-year-olds can boast that they've swum the length of the English Channel but an Ipswich youngster can now say she's swum it an incredible TEN times!

IPSWICH: Not many 12-year-olds can boast that they've swum the length of the English Channel but an Ipswich youngster can now say she's swum it an incredible TEN times!

Florence Dickin completed a charity swim at The Crown Pools in Ipswich.

The Northgate High School pupil has spent the past five months swimming a total of 220 miles to raise money for the charity Aspire, which helps people with spinal injuries.

After completing her swim, Florence said: “That wasn't too difficult! Most of my school friends think I'm mad and they told me it would be impossible.

“But I love swimming and wanted to prove them wrong. When you're doing something you enjoy it makes it easier.”

Florence was inspired to take up the challenge after spotting a poster promoting Aspire's charity swim.

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As part of their tenth anniversary the charity are asking people to swim 22 miles - the length of the English Channel - but when Florence contacted the group they asked if she wanted to swim that distance ten times.

Florence added: “Because it's their tenth anniversary they asked if I could do it ten times. I was a bit unsure at first but then thought why not? I feel proud to have completed it.”

Florence's mum Helen Ely, 43, who watched her over the finish line, said: “I'm delighted for her.

“Her technique has definitely improved over the past months. As for her next challenge, she's open to suggestions.”

Florence has so far managed to raise �400 but hopes to hit her original target of �500 very soon.

Rosie Cotton, Aspire's Channel Swim Coordinator, said: “It's an incredible achievement.

“Florence is one of the youngest people that we've had complete the challenge and the fact she's done it ten times make her achievement all the more remarkable.”

Anyone interested in donating to Florence's appeal should visit www.justgiving.com/aspre-flo.

Florence started her challenge in June and has since swum 14,160 lengths.

She has swum 10 miles - or 643 25-metre lengths - every week.

The first person to make an unassisted swim across the channel was Captain Matthew Webb on August 25 1875, it took him 21 hours and 45 minutes.

The current world record holder for the fastest Channel swim is Christof Wandrasch, a German athlete, who completed his swim in seven hours, three minutes and 52 seconds in August 2005.

The youngest person to make the crossing is Brit Thomas Gregory, who was 11 when he succeeded in 1988.

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