A TEAM of five swimmers from Trafford became the first to swim the Channel this year at the start of the month.

Bob and Jo Bolton, Michael Boyle, Ian Griffiths and Neill Hughes, all between the ages of 50 and 60, finished the 28-mile crossing in 14 hours and 35 minutes after setting off from Samphire Hoe in Kent.

The team of swimmers from Trafford Metro Swimming Club, which is based at Sale Leisure Centre, were meant to attempt the crossing in August 2020, but weather conditions forced them to postpone for ten months.

Although the team waited for the return of the warm weather, the water was still a brisk 12.5 degrees.

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“[In August] it would’ve been a fairly straightforward swim, but because of the cold it was a bit more of a challenge,” said Bob, who as well as wife Jo is a coach at Trafford Metro Swimming Club.

“You’re only allowed to swim in a pair of budgie smugglers, a swimming hat and goggles,” he added.

However, the cold was not the only difficulty encountered by the swimmers.

They had to cross shipping lanes in the Channel, and the team even sighted some jellyfish and a shark.

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“Those ships create a big wave, and you’ve got to swim through it,” Bob said.

“And when you’re in the water, you don’t know it’s coming until it’s got you.

“Then you realise there’s going to be another two or three coming afterwards.”

Training was also an issue for the swimmers, who were only able to use their home pool in Sale for three weeks ahead of the challenge.

Fortunately, Bob is also a founder of Open Swim UK at Sale Water Park, which the team used instead.

And despite all these difficulties, Bob and the other swimmers have not been put off the open water.

Bob said: “I found myself swimming in the pool the other day and I thought I’d love to be back in the sea again.”

The team have raised more than £3000 for the Alex Hulme Foundation, the Lily Foundation and Crohn’s and Colitis UK, all of which are charities close to the team’s hearts.