OPEN water swimmer Graham Matthew is on the crest of a wave after completing a cross-channel swim to raise funds for Diabetes UK.
Graham was one of a six-strong team, ‘Somewhere Dover the Rainbow”, which negotiated some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes between Shakespeare’s Beach, Dover and Sangatte in 17 hours 24 minutes.
And while the direct route is 21 miles, the swimmers had to take a more convoluted route to compensate for prevailing currents, meaning that they actually covered almost twice that distance.
They left at 8.18am on August 18 and reached France at 1.42am the following day.
Each team member was in the chilly water for an hour at a time, timing which was strictly regulated both by their on-board medic and an official from the Channel Swimming and Pilots Federation.
Although Graham previously swam the notorious Gulf of Corrievreckan, between the islands of Jura and Scarba on the west coast, which features the world’s third largest whirlpool at its north side, this was the first distance swim he had undertaken without wearing a wet suit.
He said: “It was OK. I’d done a lot of training and build-up so the actual swimming part of it was fun. People told me it was more a mental thing than physical and they were right. My last swim was at 12.20am and was so different to what I’m used to. It was pretty black and a bit eerie when you couldn’t see anything other than a boat light.”
A biomedical scientist and associate lecturer at Abertay University, Graham decided to raise funds for Diabetes UK because of the number of people he encounters who need kidney transplants because of the disease.
Eight years ago he received a kidney from his sister, Lorraine, and afterwards started raising money and awareness for transplant charities.
A keen squash player, Graham, from Hillside, is also a veteran of several World Transplant Games.
He has so far realised £1,131 in sponsorship from his swim but collectively the six teams which have successfully crossed the Channel for the charity have raised a fantastic £45,000. Graham will return to Corrievreckan this weekend two swim the gulf for a second time but his ultimate ambition is to slightly further afield.
He added: “I’ll be doing Corrievreckan without a wet suit this time, but I’d still like to swim from Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay. I’ve no firm plans at the moment, but want to do it at some point.
Graham still has six weeks to collect sponsorship and anyone wishing to make a donation can do so at www.justgiving.com/Graham-Matthew-ChannelSwim.