Student completes cross Channel swim challenge

A University of Bath student has completed the 21-mile swim from Dover to Calais in memory of his uncle, Ian Massey, who died of prostate cancer.

Rob Archer, a 30-year-old postgraduate chemistry student, had been waiting for weeks for the right weather to be able to take on the challenge.

After being told that conditions were perfect for a Channel swim, Rob set off to the French coast on Tuesday 8 September at 1am.

He said: "After being constantly on edge for four or five weeks, to know we had perfect weather made me feel so much more positive; I wasn't nervous I just wanted to get out there and do it."

His Dad, and brother Phil, who attempted the swim just three weeks before and three further friends were there to support Rob and he says that it was this that made him feel so calm about the miles ahead of him.

He described the first two hours as "nice", but at 3am he got hit by sickness and had to battle negative thoughts. His brother Phil swam alongside him for two hours, to support him through the difficult period.

Rob said: "Phil getting in really helped, he has always been the positive one and really made me get back into my rhythm. Throughout training and the actual swim he has always pushed me on, without him I don't think I could have done it."

With two miles left Rob began to struggle with breathing and his strength was weakening so his family and friends sang Amazing Grace, a favourite of Rob's. He said that this lifted his sprits and he continued on, focusing on each half hour rather than the whole swim that was left.

Rob reached the French coast after 18 hours and 7 minutes, where he was greeted by a Frenchman who congratulated him on his amazing effort, which Rob says was really heart warming.

He said there were times when he was really struggling but he had to carry on as he knew he could have felt worse. "I was so happy but I was so tired I couldn't smile; I am so relieved that I have made it."

Rob's brother, Phil, unfortunately had to abandon his earlier attempt to swim the Channel just three miles off the French shore due to severe cramp but he said: "It's good to have at least one Archer on the French coast."

Donations can still be made through Rob and Phil's donation site.

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