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Merthyr Woman To Swim English Channel

Cath Pendleton, 46, is the first welsh-woman to swim an ice mile

Cath Pendleton will swim 16-20 hours in just a bather!

An ex-RAF police woman is swimming the English Channel to raise money for charity wearing just a bather, goggles and a silicone hat.

Cath Pendleton, 46, from Sennybridge, in Brecon, will plunge into the chilly waters off the coast of Dover on the 16th-22nd September, raising money for Armed Forces Charity SSAFA.

Her epic challenge is expected to take around 16-20 hours, with no break from the water, with crew travelling alongside her by boat feeding her snacks and drinks in intervals along the way.

The boat will be alongside her the whole way, keeping her safe by navigating the safest route to cross one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, with around 500 ships passing through it every day.

Cath, who now lives near Merthyr Tydfil, told us the water temperature is expected to be around 17-18°C but she is no stranger to ice-cold waters.

In fact, ice-swimming is a big hobby of hers.

'Childhood Dream'

Cath said, "I decided two years ago that I needed a new challenge and now it's just around the corner.

"I spent the last 24 months acclimatising to the water, lots of long swims - six hours, ten hours. I've been very busy.

"I have wanted to do this since I was a child. 

"At the end of September 2015 I saw an advert for a Winter Swimming Gala in Windermere the following February where you would have to swim in temperatures under 5°C, just wearing a bather, hat and goggles.

"Since then I have really got into ice-swimming. To be honest that is my real love.

"I have since become the first welsh-woman to do an ice-mile, which I am really proud of."

The International Ice Swimming Association (IISA) was formed in 2009 with the Ice Mile considered the ultimate achievement of swimming in ice waters.

An Ice Mile is One Mile in water of 5°C or less.

The swim must be unassisted and with one pair of goggles, cap and standard swimming costume.

Image: Cath with her medal for completing the ice-mile challenge in 2016

"I only use the word tropical"

Cath told us her ice-swimming has prepared her for the English Channel challenge on Sunday.

"I have banned the words cold or freezing from my vocabulary, I only use the word tropical.

"To be honest, it can be dangerous getting into waters that temperature because of cold water shock, but I have trained my body for it.

"You get in, your body freezes and then you have to just relax and find your stroke.

"I am a little bit odd. I actually swim faster in cold water. I think it's because I love it and really enjoy the swim.

"When you get out and you are dressed and warm it is an absolute buzz.

"When I first started I was able to swim in 8°C for 12 minutes, whereas now I can swim in under 5°C for 35-40 minutes.

"I think the fastest ever channel swim is around 7 hours and the slowest record is held by my good friend, Jackie Cabell, at 28 hours.

"I am going to be somewhere in between there.

"I won't be stopping until I get there!

Image: Cath's ice-mile success in Windermere

The ex-RAF police woman will be the first person to ever swim the English Channel for SSAFA.

Cath told us choosing the Armed Forces Charity was an easy-choice, as it helped her through a tough time in her life.

After leaving the RAF, Cath’s marriage broke down and she had to relocate - starting to build a new life for herself and her children.

Cath needed support with making her home liveable, as it had bad damp problems, which was having a detrimental effect on her asthmatic daughters’ health.

Never forgetting the support that she received during this time, Cath is now taking on this challenge so that the charity can help more members of the military community when they most need it.

SSAFA provides lifelong support to the Armed Forces, veterans and their families in times of need. Launching in 1885, SSAFA isthe oldest tri-service, military charity running in the UK.

This year alone, staff and teams of volunteers have helped over 67,000 people - from World War Two veterans to those involved in more recent conflicts and their families.

Cath has set up a just giving page to raise money for the charity.

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