Ali Budynkiewicz and Lisa North from Poole, who dubbed themselves the Gangsta Grannies, are believed to be the first team-of-two to swim across the Channel and back.
Following their recent charity swim, the pair, aged 58 and 48, completed their return crossing from Dover to France in just over 31 hours, swimming two-hour rotation shifts, in a bid to raise money for BCHA (Bournemouth Churches Housing Association). The charity supports the children of women affected by domestic violence in its Bournemouth Refuge.
Taking their nickname from David Walliams’ best-selling children’s book, the duo have so far more than doubled their £1,000 fundraising target, which will contribute to the refuge being able to provide activities, days out, sporting and art materials for the children who live there.
The ladies said, “The swim was very tough – it really is a very long way but we swam strong and steady all the way. We swam through the night and landed in France about 4am and then turned around and swam straight back to Dover, landing in the dark again.”
During their swim they encountered jelly fish, pods of dolphins and seals and Lisa spoke about how “fantastic” the support of the crew had been to keep them going, especially helping to refuel them with bananas, chocolate, pork pies and regular shouts of encouragement.
Lisa explains, “We had incredible support from the crew, plus a highly experienced channel pilot. According to one of the observers, who is secretary to the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, the double has never been done by two people before, let alone two grannies. We feel so chuffed it’s a first.”
The pair trained hard for three years for this challenge and personally covered all the costs of the swim themselves, which included three pilots, three observers, hire of the boat and payment to the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, to ensure that every penny raised will go directly to the refuge.
Ali said, “Our aim is to in some way enable children to experience fun with their family, and raise their self-esteem and confidence for the future. The work that BCHA does is truly wonderful, and together we are committed to ensuring positive outcomes for children who have lived through or witnessed violence in their home, which should be a safe and nurturing place for them.
Since completing the swim, Ali and Lisa have set their sights on resting, recovering, and celebrating their achievement and certainly they don’t have any immediate plans to do it again.
Lisa, said, “When the time is right, we will go for a little sea swim for pleasure, but, one thing’s for sure, we are not doing another Channel swim.”
If you would like to donate to the Gangsta Grannies Double Channel Swim 2016, please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gangstagrannies
For more information on BCHA visit www.bcha.org.uk/