Monster swim poses ultimate challenge

The gruelling swim will test the endurance of five ‘ordinary blokes’ from North Devon.

Cold water and strong tides are no match for a group of North Devon men taking on the swimming challenge of a lifetime.

The group of five already set a record time in 2009 swimming from Lundy Island to Woolacombe Beach in seven hours and three minutes.

But now Paul Irwin, 45; Bruce Hughes, 43; John Jameson, 34; Karl Whittaker, 42 and Jon Parker, 44 will be swimming more than 100 miles from Guernsey to South Devon.

Paul, a partnership development manager for pharmaceutical company Sanofi, said: “This is a big step up from our last challenge; it’s 81 miles as the crow flies, but with the tides it will probably end up being in excess of 100 miles.

“We’re doing it as a relay swim, which means we could all end up swimming the distance of the English Channel individually.”

Weather-depending, the group will set off from the Channel Island on August 24, and aim to arrive on the shores of Slapton Sands within 48 hours.

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“We all love swimming and enjoy keeping fit, but at the end of the day we’re just a group of ordinary blokes,” said Bruce, a North Devon GP and medical director at the Children’s Hospice.

“It’s all about being a team and the trust we have, if we all work together then we can achieve this.”

The challenge is the pinnacle of more than a year of gruelling training sessions slotted in around the team members’ busy lifestyles.

John Jameson, who also works for Sanofi, said: “This is a lot more extreme than the Lundy swim; I don’t think it’s something one person could do on their own.

“We’ve been very lucky to have a lot of support and sponsorship so far as well as a great team behind us.”

During the swim, the swimmers will be accompanied by medics and support staff on kayaks, and are hoping to raise �10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

The Great Big Monster Sea Swim is the headline event of the Sanofi 1,000 Mile Challenge, which aims to raise �100,000 for the charity through employees collectively achieving 1,000 miles of activity.

To sponsor the swimmers in their challenge, visit

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