October 23 2014 Latest news:
Monday, August 11, 2014
A pensioner is hoping to make history when he joins four other men in their seventies to swim the English Channel.
Alan Jackson, from Wells, will be 75 when he attempts to swim the 21-mile stretch between England and France as part of a relay team next week.
There are five men, including Mr Jackson, in the team and they are all 70-plus with a combined age of 370.
If the five men make it across to the French shoreline, they will be the first team of swimmers aged over 70 to conquer the gruelling swim.
Mr Jackson, who is taking part in the challenge to raise funds for the RNLI’s Shannon Appeal for a new lifeboat at Wells station, swam across the Channel as part of a relay team back in 1997, but expects this all-male team to be faster.
The grandfather-of-six, who has won a number of masters swimming titles, said: “It should be fairly straightforward for the strength of the swimmers we’ve got - the only problem will be if any of us are affected by the cold water.
“As three of us live by the coast - four including one who lives in Florida - we will be used to sea swimming. It shouldn’t really be too difficult but you never know.”
Swimming has long been a large part of Mr Jackson’s life. He used to run a swimming school with his wife Katrina in Bedford before they moved to Norfolk about seven years ago.
He still teaches swimming at Alderman Peel High School’s pool where he leads a children’s swimming club, called the Seals, and a group of adults.
“I like being weightless, you are free, you’re not restricted by gravity,” said Mr Jackson, who swims up to seven days a week. “It’s something that comes naturally to some people and for others it comes very hard. It comes naturally to me and I found I was quite good at it.”
As part of the relay swim, the father-of-three, who used to work at Bedford College of Higher Education, will swim for an hour at a time before one of his team-mates takes over. They will set off at some point during next week, depending on the tide.
Mr Jackson is just one of a number of people who have been inspired to exert themselves to raise money for the new Shannon lifeboat which will come into service in 2016. Crewman Max Phillips cycled between a sunrise in Lowestoft to a sunset at Hunstanton and has so far raised £600. Amy Emerson, wife of crewman Martin, rowed six miles on a rowing machine and raised more than £800.
Mr Jackson hopes to raise at least £500 from his swim. To sponsor him, go to www.justgiving.com/Alan-Jackson5
Are your raising funds for the Wells Lifeboat Shannon Appeal? Email firstname.lastname@example.org