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Former sport student and GB Triathlete takes the plunge across the channel

On Monday 14 September, Canterbury College sport alumna and former GB Triathlete, Sarah Philpott, will be attempting to swim across the English channel, whilst raising the profile of two important charities.

When the pandemic hit British shores in March 2020, businesses up and down the country were forced to change tack, some had to batter down the hatches whilst others had to go the extra mile. Medical Engineering Technologies (MET) in Dover was one of those that had to carry on regardless. Their function; to test medical devices ensuring they are ‘fit for purpose’ before entering the marketplace, therefore the staff at MET worked long hours testing ventilators, PPE and hand sanitizer at the height of the lockdown.

Despite all the extra work, one member of staff started using her daily exercise allowance to jump into the sea. Sarah Philpott, a former GB Triathlete, hadn’t swum for over fifteen years but despite all the hours working, the pandemic provided an opportunity to swim when the weather and tides were in her favour. Sarah comments “living in Dover you are never short of inspirational people that come here to attempt to swim the channel, it’s like living at the foot of Everest and not wanting to climb the mountain”.

Fast-forward five months and Sarah found herself completing six and then eight-hour training sessions in Dover Harbour and will be attempting to swim the 21miles across the English Channel in mid-September. Sarah says, “I was part of a Channel Relay Team in 1998, and I always promised myself that I would do a solo attempt when I reached my 40’s, and here I am! Whilst I was a seasoned triathlete the transition to long-distance swimming has been a real challenge as I’ve had to significantly change my pace, endure the cold water and work much harder on training the mind more so that the body. I’m confident about giving it my best shot, but I won’t deny that the long hours, the cold water, swimming at night and the jellyfish all scare me!”

With the full support of her employer, Sarah has not only been busy training but working hard to raise the profile of her two chosen charities. The first; Worldwide Cancer Research, a UK-based charity that funds bold new research projects throughout the country and the rest of the world into all types of cancer. Since it was founded in 1979, cancer survival rates have doubled, and the charity has funded 2,000+ projects across the globe, worth over £200million. Sarah chose this charity as she was inspired by the grit and determination of her 1998 channel-relay team member Sophie who continues to swim in the sea as much as possible despite currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast cancer.

Her second chosen charity; Fifth Sense; is the first UK charity that supports people who have smell and taste disorders providing information for potential diagnosis and treatments. Sarah says “whilst losing ones’ sense of smell might seem trivial to many, the impact is huge. You can’t smell danger, i.e. fire, gas or spoiled food, there can be challenges in choosing certain careers such as a chef, fire-fighter or plumber, and you may struggle to enjoy simple pleasures in life such as; tasty food or the smell fresh cut grass or of a loved one.” More poignantly the team at ‘Fifth Sense’ have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic as global evidence emerged that a sudden loss of smell was a symptom of the coronavirus. A recent study has shown that whilst 85% of those affected by smell loss were only without it for two to three weeks, an estimated 20,000 people are still affected and have added to the approximate 5% of the population for whom total smell loss is a daily fact of life.

To support Sarah’s chosen charities, please visit here.