The Wokingham Paper

Pushed to his limits: David’s courageous channel swim raises funds for charity.

A local man dived into the deep end last Monday when he pushed himself to cross the English Channel in just 15 hours and two minutes and raised almost £10,000 for charity.

David Sanger, who lives just outside of Eversley, wanted to use his lifelong passion for swimming to fundraise for an organisation close to his heart, Treloar Trust, which provides education and therapy for disabled young people.

When he set off at 7.30am on Monday, August 12, to cover 44km unaided to Cap Gris Nez in France, it was an accumulation of 18 months of training, 1400km of swimming and three hours of practice a day. 

Mr Sanger said: “Channel swimming is 50% swimming ability — which requires a huge amount of training — and the rest of it is being able to ride the emotional rollercoaster. 

“There’s a psychological battle going on, as a bit of you thinks, ‘you could get out of the water, onto the boat and have a warm cup of tea’. But then there’s the rest of you telling you not to. It becomes a test of determination.

“The swim itself is like four back to back running marathons without any stops. It is unpredictable and a test of endurance.”

The greatest difficulty came when Mr Sanger was nearing the end of his swim and struggled to reach the French shore due to changes within the tide.

His pilot encouraged him, by saying: “Dave, if you have anything left, you have to do it.”

He had to go from 55 strokes per minute to 75 strokes per minute to get out of the tidal push, but he did succeed and eventually reached the beach at Wissant, which was “immensely pleasing”.

Mr Sanger also attempted a relay with three others in June, but unfortunately it was halted because one swimmer got hypothermia, so it was twice as rewarding when he did reach Wissant beach this time around.

After swimming through pods of jellyfish, darting between shipping lanes and staying in 18.1°C seawater without a wetsuit or solid food for over 15 hours, Mr Sanger had to be dressed with two beanies, six sweatshirts, trousers and a dry robe to help him recover.

But, he said he could not have completed it without his support network. “You swim it alone, but you don’t do it alone,” he explained. “And I would like to thank my family, my friend Mike Nash, my trainer Nils Young and the crew of Rowena.”

Mr Sanger had friends on the boat who uploaded videos to social media documenting the event, almost as it happened, and he said 440 people watched it.

But, despite his success and the interest in his journey, he is almost certain he will not be taking up this monumental challenge again.

Mr Sanger said: “It took a huge amount of dedication and time. Not to mention it became a ridiculous obsession and focus for me. I talked to people about it constantly.”

Treloar’s chief executive Jessica Taplin said: “There just aren’t enough words to say thank you to David. This was an incredible challenge to take on and he did amazingly well. 

“He is one in a million and a true inspiration to our young people. We look forward to giving him a huge thank you when he next comes to visit us.”

He said:“I’ve supported Treloar’s for at least 15 years now. It is very close to my heart.

“It is such a wonderful charity that supports so many severely disabled young people. Treloar’s provides students with a fantastic education, superb care and encourages

them to be as independent as possible. 

“The huge amount of training for 18 months was hard work and the swim itself was

really tough, but I felt that it was totally worth it knowing that Treloar’s would benefit from

the sponsorship money raised.”
To donate to Mr Sanger’s cause, visit

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