Birchington mum to take on Channel challenge in aid of spinal cord injury charity

Rebekah is training for her swim with the Aspire team

A face full of ferry diesel and jellyfish stings are just two of the hazards faced by Birchington mum Rebekah Kefford during training for an English Channel swim taking place this month.

The sales and marketing business owner is one of five swimmers -originally six but now the team is one man down- in a relay team raising cash for the Aspire charity which supports adults and children paralysed by spinal cord injury.

Rebekah has been pool swimming for 20 years but this is the first time she has taken on an open water challenge.

The 47-year-old, who lives in the village with her husband and two sons, applied to be part of the swim last November and was accepted on the Aspire Panthers team.

She said: “I started in the sea in March when the sea temp was about 6-7c. I could only manage 10 minutes back then. I’m now up to 2-hour swims in a sea temp of 14c. To help acclimatise I even have ice cold showers every day.

“I train hard, five or six times per week in the gym, yoga and sea swims three times a week. 

“We meet as a team once a month and train in Dover harbour. My last swim I came out of the sea with a face full of ferry diesel and two jellyfish stings!

“The charity fully supports us with kit list, training, warming up routine when getting out of the sea – you can shiver like mad after 2 hours in the sea- and my teammates are incredible.

“My main client, Manor House Forest School in Margate, has been a huge support to me, not only by being my main sponsor, but also helping look after my sons when my husband is at work and I need to disappear off to plunge in the ice cold water.

“I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something like this. You not only need to be physically strong, but mentally too. Getting into the sea when it’s cold, raining, windy and rough is hard. Keeping going when you can feel the cold seep through your body and into your bones is tough, but seeing the people who I’m raising money for, my challenge doesn’t seem so tough.”

The swim takes place on July 17 (weather permitting) with each team member swimming in rotation until they reach France. This can take anything between 10 – 24 hours to swim the 21 miles.

Rebekah has smashed her initial £2,600 target and now stands at £3512 raised.

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