Down but not out after 35 mile Channel attempt

Ann and Tom McGrath and Dee Taylor can feel very proud of swimming in excess of 35 miles in their valiant attempt to swim the English Channel.

Originally planned as a 4 person relay, Caroline Cooke vomited from the moment she got onboard and sensibly decided not to swim after the first 2 hours as she was already weak. Knowing she might only manage 1 or 2 swims, Caroline didn’t want to jeopardise the team effort so Dee, Tom and Ann undertook the swim as a 3 person relay.

Dee was first in at 1am and she hates the dark! It was a heroic effort getting to beach and then out in very lumpy conditions.


Next, Tom and then Ann produced excellent challenging swims in the dark as the sea was still lumpy at this stage.

There were more great swims as the sea calmed towards and after dawn but the cold and tiredness were starting to affect the swimmers. Tom was violently sick after one of his swims, Ann too and Dee was getting cold.

Getting closer to France, about 12 hours in, the tide and winds turned against the team. They carried on swimming heroically but were making very little headway as large waves engulfed them in heavy winds.

The tired swimmers carried on valliantly on for another 2.5 hours until the pilot called the swim off as too dangerous to continue. He would have been unable to land a boat to collect the last swimmer.

Ann was called out of the sea and absolutley gutted. The pilot said they would have kept going if they could had the swim not been called off for saftey reasons, Although they were disappointed the swimmers knew it was the right decision and should all feel proud of their incredible achievement.

Thanking everyone, Tom said “Mentally and physically it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

And the team added “You really have no idea what it’s like out there until you try it. It’s such an extreme challenge on every imaginable level. It was an incredible ordeal, pushing ourselves to our absolute limits and far beyond.”

“We want to thank Fred and Harry, our pilots, for looking after us and keeping us safe. And to Clive for his great warmth and care, and to Keith, our official observer, for being there for us too.

“No-one can really prepare you for what it’s really like out there, especially when it’s lumpy and then the wind and tide turn against you and you’re already exhausted.

“36 miles of laughter, tears, hurting, waves, jellyfish and sickness. We went through it for each other. No better team than TEAM BONKERS!”

“We hold Caroline in so high regard for allowing us to start the swim without her. Thanks to all of you for supporting us. We felt it on the day.”

Team Bonkers
Team Bonkers
East Dorset Open Water Swimming Club members will continue to be inspired by your efforts and tackling one of the world’s greatest sporting challenges.

To show your appreciation for their attempt, please head over to as their Channel Swim was to raise money for Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance. This wonderful service receives no funding from the Government or the National Lottery and relies solely on the generosity of the general public to help them raise the £1.4 million a year it costs to keep flying. Please help Team Bonkers keep them in the air!

Team Bonkers
Team Bonkers