Wakefield businessman to swim the Channel on Thursday
When his hopes of running the London marathon in 2020 were dashed, Wakefield businessman Lee Johnson set himself a new challenge - a solo swim of the Channel.
If all goes to plan, he will set out from Dover in the early hours of Thursday morning and hopes to land in France some 12-14 hours later - a swim of between 21-25 miles depending on the currents and conditions that day.
Lee, who is married to Gill and has two daughters 12-year-old Grace and five-month-old Eve, was inspired to take on the challenge by tales of the comedian David Walliams’ Channel crossing in 2006 and that of Sarah Thomas who crossed it four times in 2019 without stopping, taking an incredible 54 hours.
Lee, aged 42, is the managing director of Advanced Electrical Services on Pildacre Lane, Ossett.
He is a keen open water swimmer and, in recent years, has tackled a number of lakes in the Lake District including Windermere and Coniston.
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To take part in an official Channel swim, a number of very stringent conditions have to be met.
Lee said: “The Channel has been swum by fewer than 2,000 people worldwide. The rules state that I can only compete under the same conditions as Matthew Webb did, the first Channel swimmer in 1875.
“This means that whatever the weather, I cannot wear a wetsuit, I must not leave the water and I must not touch the boat or any member of my support crew.”
Throughout his gruelling challenge, water, energy drinks and snacks such as jelly babies will be lowered to him on a piece of rope to keep his strength up.
Lee is raising money for Henshaws College in Harrogate, a cause that is very close to his family’s heart.
Gill's cousin Patrick is a student at the college which helps people living with sight loss and other disabilities to achieve their ambitions and go beyond expectations.
Lee’s support crew, his training partner Dan Whittaker and coach Josh Laycock, will be in the boat with him, along with the pilot, his mate, and an official from the Channel Swimming Association.
Lee said: “Dan and Josh are there to offer support and encouragement and to keep an eye on my swimming as well as to feed me."
Dan, also from Ossett, will tackle his own Channel swim at the end of September.
Lee has met the cost of all the training and support crew from his own pocket to ensure that all the money he raises goes straight to Henshaws College.
You can follow Lee’s progress by tracking the boat using this link http://cspf.co.uk/tracking and to make a donation go to