Swimming the English Channel had been Amy Mellor’s dream since she was seven, and when she finally put her name down to take on the 21 mile challenge she had expected to have dad Kevin by her side.
The 68-year-old was determined to be part of his daughter’s support crew and watch her fulfil her lifelong ambition after entering remission for oesophageal cancer.
But, when tragedy struck and Kevin’s cancer returned, resulting in his death two years ago, Amy became even more determined to complete the daunting swim.
And with her dad firmly on her mind, the 40-year-old battled jellyfish stings, a fierce tide and the night-time chill to land in Wissant in France after 14 hours and 19 minutes.
“When dad got cancer I stopped putting this off. I thought ‘I’m not getting any younger and the opportunities won’t always be there’,” said Amy, who applied to do the swim while Kevin was in remission, only for the disease to return eight weeks later.
“He was going to be part of my crew, then he was not there to be my crew. My remit for the swim became to do it in dad’s memory.”
Amy began the huge challenge on Friday, August 22 with David Coleman and Shaun Woodward in the support boat offering her everything from carbohydrate drinks, medication and encouragement, as well as making sure she was a safe distance away when it became dark.
“They were absolutely amazing,” said Amy of her friends who alongside her enjoy swimming in the Nene in their spare time. “Without them I could not have done it.”
Amy is a member of PACTRAC (Peterborough Area Combined Triathlon Club) and Nene Valley Swimming Club and has taken on swimming challenges before, but nothing like this.
“The first six hours were lovely in the sunshine,” she recalled. “But the night was really, really challenging and when it turned to dusk I got a couple of jellyfish stings.
“I knew it would be hard but you need to get on with it. The water temperature was 18 Celsius but I had been swimming all the way through the winter to acclimatise to cold water.
“When I finished it was just elation and disbelief. I still feel that a little bit now. It will take a couple of months to sink in.”
Money raised from the swim will go to The Christie hospital in Manchester where Kevin was given chemotherapy and became enthused about the research being carried out.
Describing her dad, Amy said: “He was a real people person. He had a very tough cancer but fought it all the way. He was all about loving life. That’s what motivated me.”
To donate to The Christie, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/amy-mellorswims.