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Swimming the Channel for Bloodwise

The Bloodwise logo. Bloodwise appears in black text against a white background
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08 Aug 2018

An artist from Kidderminster has swum the Channel to raise money for research into new treatments for the blood disorder that her mum lost her life to.

Sam Mould Channel swim
Sam Mould swimming the Channel

Sam Mould, 40, completed the swim from Dover to Calais in 19 hours and 47 minutes.

Sam said: “My mum, like many mums, was amazing. She was funny, smart, creative, kind and generous and an all-round lovely being. She died suddenly in October 2016 from myelofibrosis. Within a year my sister and I lost our equally wonderful father as well to pneumonia in the summer of 2017.”

Sam is raising money for Bloodwise to help fund research into new treatments and support for people with blood cancers and disorders like the one that her mum died from.

“When we lose someone we love, there is no standard response,” said Sam. “There is no guidebook for grief – we are not the same and never will be. My coping mechanism was to focus on something bigger than I could imagine. I wanted to use my family tragedy to raise awareness of blood cancers and to help Bloodwise to support other people and their families who are living with blood cancers.”

Sam is an illustrator and also works as a physiotherapist and swim guide. She only started outdoor swimming two years before her mother’s death.

“At first I could barely manage 20 metres without putting my feet down,” she said. “The water was dark and murky and I worried about what was beneath me. But as I practiced, distances increased and I progressed from lakes to river swims to sea swimming and the idea of swimming to France took hold.

“I learnt to deal with the cold, ignore the jellyfish stings, the big waves and my fear of sea monsters. And actually now, I feel a real sense of freedom when I'm swimming. There’s a wonderful community of people that open water swim all over the UK and I feel lucky that I had the support of that community.

“Someone will always want to come for a swim, or at least egg you on to get in the water and train and oh my goodness, there is a lot of training to do for the channel. My parents always said that the only failure in life is not to try and that if at first you don’t succeed, try, and try again. Thank goodness I made it first time!”

At 3.20am on Friday 6th July 2018, despite less than perfect sea conditions that emerged over the course of the day, Sam set out from Samphire Hoe Beach, two miles from Dover, and reached Calais 19 hours 47 minutes later. She was supported by the boat Optimist from the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation.

Sam said: “It was an epic day. The swim started on a clear starry night when the sea was flat, but within two hours the chop was rising and by the time we reached the mid-channel, the wind over the tide was creating lots of cross-chop and white horses. In the middle I was told I had to pick it up to swim us out of the tide into French inland waters.

A woman swims the channel on a sunny day

“I recall not being able to see very much, with the exception of what seemed like massive waves, which occasionally parted for the view of an enormous sea faring vessel. I didn’t see any wildlife, but the crew caught fresh mackerel. It’s reassuring to know that there is sea life.

“As the evening settled in and the sun began to hide on the horizon, the sea conditions calmed and although I could see the French coast, it was several hours before I landed. You can be 500 metres from the Cap Gris-Nez, which is the closest piece of French land to the UK, but it might take another five or six hours because of the play of the tide. I landed in the dark, on a sandy beach overlooked by some cliffs.

“The clear night sky provided a shooting star and I thought, well that's that then, we just swam all the way to France. I felt so excited to put my feet down on that sand I can’t tell you. I couldn’t have done it without the amazing support of my team on the boat. Thanks to my Mum and Dad for being with me the whole way. It was epic, in all senses of the word.”

Emma Jane Jones, Regional Manager for Bloodwise in The Midlands, said: “Sam is truly inspiring and what she has achieved is incredible. Blood cancers are the third biggest cause of cancer death in the UK. We’re hugely grateful that Sam has chosen to support Bloodwise’s work into finding more effective treatments to keep more families together.”

Donate to Sam’s fundraising page to help fund vital blood cancer research

Comments

10.08.2018

Sam you are, quite simply, amazing! What an achievement and an emotional read. Thank you so much for your support. Dawn @ Bloodwise