Crossing the English Channel - in Newton!

Left to right: Swimmers Gemma Williams, Steph Sass and Libby Horan on completing their English Channel-length swim at the Selwyn Jones pool
Left to right: Swimmers Gemma Williams, Steph Sass and Libby Horan on completing their English Channel-length swim at the Selwyn Jones pool
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TIRED but triumphant, three aquatic pals managed to swim the equivalent of crossing the English Channel in less than five hours.

And Libby Horan, Gemma Williams and Steph Sass, who are all members of Ashton Central Swimming Club, can be even prouder at their sporting achievement after raising well over £1,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

It is a cause particularly close to Ashton 14-year-old Libby’s heart because her grandma Joyce Munro is battling the incurable illness. The 75-year-old from Haydock’s condition has also deteriorated markedly in recent weeks.

Cansfield High schoolmate Gemma, 13, agreed to join Libby on their marathon effort, so too 23-year-old Edge Hill University student Steph who had taken part in a similar swim four years ago.

Starting at 9am at the Selwyn Jones Sports Centre in Newton-le-Willows, the trio between them ploughed through 1,400 lengths of the 25m pool, Steph taking half of them and the two girls sharing the remainder.

But after Libby finished her 352-length quota she decided to carry on for an extra 48 lengths so that she could qualify for her 10,000m badge on the same day. They were all done by 2.40pm.

Libby’s mum Lynne Rogers said: “All three of them can be very proud of what they have done. They were surprisingly fresh afterwards but swimming such a long distance is a real feat. My mum is very ill at the moment and Libby really wanted to do this for her and the South Lancs branch.”

“Gemma said ‘never again!’ afterwards but Libby said she would like to do something like this again some time and do even more lengths.

“Steph, who had the lion’s share of the swimming, was also very pleased that she had beaten the record she set last time she did this. She said she needed a vodka and coke afterwards and I’m not surprised.”

Lynne said that more than £1,000 had already been pledged before the swim started and it was hoped that several hundred more would come in before the final reckoning.”