Cambridgeshire Clinical Academic set to swim Channel for Children’s charity
Driven by his passion for competitive swimming, a Clinical Academic from Cambridgeshire will attempt to complete one of the most gruelling feats of human endeavour when he swims the English Channel in aid of the Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA).
Dr. Stephen Smith (41) – a Scientific Cancer Researcher at the University of Cambridge, recently seconded to the government as a Scientific Advisor on the UK Covid Therapeutics Advisory Panel – is no stranger to challenging himself in the water, and his next venture is to take on the epic swim as one of six swimmers who make up the Tidal Force Team.
The team will gather on the Dover shores this month and will be called upon anytime between 10-14 June, joining a further two teams, in the charity challenge to navigate the 22.5-mile stretch as a relay – in an effort to raise vital funds for the lifesaving children’s service.
“As a child, I was a competitive swimmer and water polo player, and I have continued this passion over the years. I am due to swim Loch Lomond in August, so taking on this challenge seemed like a great idea -for a worthy cause – the Children’s Air Ambulance,” says Stephen.
The Children’s Air Ambulance – operated by The Air Ambulance Service – is a national service that is changing the face of paediatric and neonatal care through the high-speed transfer of critically ill babies and children – flying them from one hospital to another for specialist care.
Two clinically designed AgustaWestland 169 helicopters provide flying intensive care units and work with 10 NHS paediatric retrieval teams across the UK. If a child is too sick to fly, then the Children’s Air Ambulance can fly a specialist team directly to them.
Despite only signing up to the Children’s Air Ambulance event this year, and working hard on the vaccine trials, the inspirational academic has now been training six times a week in preparation- and has passed the assessment swim, where he spent 2.5 hours swimming in the cold open water.
“It was a lot tougher to train during the lockdown as there were no local lakes I could get to in Cambridge,” says Stephen.
“I have a structured programme now, training six days a week, and slowly increasing the distance so I don’t force any injuries,” he adds.
Stephen will become part of a worldwide “family” of people who have conquered the famed stretch of water, home to the world’s busiest shipping lanes, but more than that she will help to keep families together through supporting the critical work of the national charity.
“I’m looking forward to the swim, we have a great team, and luckily I don’t get seasick!” Adds Stephen.
On behalf of TCAA Special Events team, Kristina Johnson says:
“We’re delighted to have Stephen on Tidal Force Team to take on the Channel Swim relay challenge.
“We’d like to thank him for all his dedication training and fundraising– despite the difficulties faced in the current climate. Stephen’s support of the charity is appreciated, and we look forward to seeing him in the water, cheering him and the rest of the team on.”