Chiswick estate agent Harry Middleton swims English Channel for charity

Image above: Harry Middleton swimming in the English Channel

Channel swim raises over £2,650 for charity

Harry Middleton, a local estate agent and endurance swimmer, has successfully swum the English Channel to raise funds for two charitable causes.

In a journey which began on Sunday (18 June) at 8.00am, lasting 12 hours and 46 minutes, Harry braved “tough” waters to support Make a Wish and the Fine & Country Foundation.

Make a Wish is a charity which provides experiences for children facing life-threatening illnesses, giving them joy and hope. The Fine and Country Foundation, established by estate agents Fine and Country, supports charities which combat homelessness and poverty, providing essential support to those who are struggling to make ends meet.

Reflecting on the gruelling swim, and the two years of training he endured in preparation, Harry told The Chiswick Calendar the journey had been “very tough” but was worth it in the end.

Images above: Harry smothered in suncream before entering the English Channel

“More of a mental challenge”

Harry trained rigorously for two years before making the crossing, and had to submit to a six-hour qualifying swim in water colder than 60°F (15°C) before he could even attempt the challenge.

“We signed up for it in October 2021, since then we have been doing about 16 hours in the pool [per week],” Harry said.

Over the past couple of years, he also participated in various training camps, mainly training in the pool at Virgin Active in Chiswick and occasionally at Ealing Swimming Club.

When asked how he managed to keep his energy up and his focus during swim, Harry said:

“You were getting fed during the swim. They were chucking food into the water and drinks into the water – it’s a pre-made carbohydrate drink and the food was just jelly babies… But it was more of a mental challenge after about seven hours.”

Image above: Harry swimming across the English Channel 

“We swam with dolphins…”

Harry shared some unexpected and memorable moments from his journey, recalling:

“We swam with dolphins or porpoises in the sea, which I thought was quite cool.”

After about four hours of swimming, putting him halfway across the Channel, the currents and sea conditions changed drastically with currents moving at 5 knots per hour in a north-westerly direction.

Harry and his fellow swimmers had to keep moving, to avoid being pushed back towards England, but effectively this was just keeping them in the same position.

The last six hours were further complicated by dense fog, limiting visibility to a mere ten metres. Despite these challenges, the team successfully completed the crossing, eventually landing in France.

Image above: path of Harry’s swim across the English Channel

Search for firefighter Iain Hughes called off

The dangers of Channel swimming were brought home this week by the loss of Iain Hughes, a firefighter from Sandwell, West Midlands, who was also making the crossing for charity.

He went missing after setting off from the Kent coast on Tuesday morning. The 42-year-old married father-of-two was accompanied by a support boat but he went missing later that day in French waters.

French and Belgian authorities, which included military helicopters and police and navy patrol boats, called off their search for him on Thursday (22 June).